Here’s what you need to know about intermittent fasting, the dieting method some people swear by.
Intermittent fasting is now one of the world’s most popular dieting methods – it’s easy to implement and stick to. Rather than telling you what and what not to eat, this dieting method is about when you eat.
There are a few ways that you can attempt this. Some people go by the 16/8 method, which restricts your eating period every day to just eight hours – you will have lunch and dinner but not breakfast. There are others who fast for 24 hours up to twice a week. And some prefer to limit their calories to 500 or 600 calories for two non-consecutive days in a week.
(Also read: Will Eating Less Make Your Stomach Shrink?)
How it works: It’s a case of simple mathematics. By limiting the number of hours you are allowed to eat, you end up reducing the calories you consume. But this only works if you don’t wind up bingeing during your eating hours.
Fasting also causes other processes in your body to take place. For example, human growth hormone levels increase and insulin levels drop. They have the effects of promoting fat loss and muscle gain and making stored body fat accessible for energy use.
What to expect: Just as with other dieting methods, a fast drop of weight can be seen, says Louis Yap, dietitian at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. However, Louis advises everyone to take this with a pinch of salt as part of the weight loss is due to water loss and you may feel dehydrated as a result. And if you’re not disciplined enough, the rebound may happen quickly too.
Should you try it: Intermittent fasting is safe as long as you are consuming nutritious food and not avoiding any food groups, says Louis. But he suggests that this diet can be used for initial weight loss while a more sustainable, controlled diet can be used long-term for maintenance.
If starving for 16 hours a day sounds too much, you may attempt a more moderate version by keeping fasting to 12 hours a day while eating your regular meals within the other 12. Regardless of how you go about intermittent fasting, be sure to still include low-fat dairy products, fresh fruits and lots of water into your everyday diet. And when in doubt, consult a dietitian to ensure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients.