As life gradually returns to normal after the coronavirus crisis, many of us may be feeling the effects of life in lockdown on the scale. What’s jokingly being referred to as the “quarantine 15” has many of us now wondering how to shed those extra pounds as we adjust to the “new normal”. One popular diet trend you may have heard of is called Intermittent fasting (IF). IF is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. The most popular method known as the 16/8 method involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours (i.e. 11-7 pm or 12-8 pm) and fasting for the 16 hours in between. Studies in both animals and humans have shown IF can be a very effective weight loss tool. You may be wondering how simply changing the timing of your meals helps you lose weight? Aside from consuming fewer overall calories, turns out fasting triggers several hormonal changes, including lowering insulin levels, increasing growth hormone and the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Short-term fasting (because of these changes in hormones) may increase your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, which in addition to the reduction in overall calories results in weight loss. Although more studies are needed, IF may also have positive effects on blood pressure, inflammation, heart health, brain health, and aging. Just a few things to keep in mind:
- It’s important to continue to follow a healthy diet (such as a plant-based Mediterranean diet) during your eating period. (If you binge and eat lots of unhealthy foods during your eating periods, you may not lose weight at all).
- If you take nutritional supplements, remember most work better when taken with meals, so try to avoid taking them during your fasting period, which can cause an upset stomach.
- Although IF can be a very effective weight loss tool, it is not for everyone. Always check with your doctor before starting any weight loss program, particularly if you have a medical condition.
(1) Cabo, R. D., & Mattson, M. P. (2019). Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 381(26), 2541–2551. doi: 10.1056/nejmra1905136
(2) Jane, L., Atkinson, G., Jaime, V., Hamilton, S., Waller, G., & Harrison, S. (2015). Intermittent fasting interventions for the treatment of overweight and obesity in adults aged 18 years and over: a systematic review protocol. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, 13(10), 60–68. doi: 10.11124/jbisrir-2015-2363
(3) Patterson, R. E., & Sears, D. D. (2017). Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting. Annual Review of Nutrition, 37(1), 371–393. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634
(4) Tello, M. (2020, February 10). Intermittent fasting: Surprising update. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-201806291415
(5) (TechSpace), N. K. (2020, April 23). Intermittent Fasting 101 – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#:~:text=Intermittent fasting (IF) is an,described as an eating pattern.
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