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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Can food abstinence really live up to its appeal? Sunny Rodricks tells you more about intermittent fasting and how to go about it

All the diets you have been on have eventually failed. They may work for a while, but they get less effective over time. But what about intermittent fasting? It sounds appealing, because it seems to advocate fasting... but only intermittently. Hmm... Here we’re telling you about the regimen, its benefits and downsides, as well as the different types of intermittent fasting.


According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, intermittent fasting proposes three ways of fasting. They are:

  • Daily fasting: In this type, also called time-restricted fasting, people fast for 12 to 16 hours in the day thereby feasting for about eight hours. Most people who follow this scheme start their fast at night, skipping breakfast the next morning and eating their first meal at around lunchtime. That gives them another seven or so hours to eat before the next period of fasting.
  • Weekly fasting: This option, also called modified fasting, allows a person to eat about 25% of their recommended daily calorie intake on two days in the week. For the rest of the days in the week, they can eat normally. This eating pattern is also called the 5:2 diet, as it involves restricting your diet for two non-consecutive days in the week.
  • Zero-calorie fasting: In this type, also dubbed alternate fasting, a person can switch between periods of consuming zero-calorie foods and beverages (which is considered fasting) and eating normally. While some choose to follow a high-fat or ketogenic diet on days when they’re not fasting, others stick to a balanced meal plan. In this type, fasts can go on for up to a full week!


Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can contribute to decreased low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or the bad cholesterol, as well as reduced inflammation. Here are a few health benefits of this type of fasting.

Less snacking Intermittent fasting helps you cut back on late-night snacking.

  • Waking up earlier: Getting seven hours of sleep a day has been linked with weight management, reduced risk of chronic disease and improved metabolism.
  • Effect on the brain: A purposeful eating schedule improves memory, elevates mood and lowers the risk of cognitive decline associated with ageing.
  • Fat burning: Because eating times are restricted, insulin levels are low during the fasting stage. This prompts fat burning to keep energy levels stable.
  • Better food choices: When you know you have a few hours in which to eat, you tend to make smarter food choices. It simplifies and structures the process of picking what you should eat as a snack, something that many intermittent fasters appreciate.

Easy plan to follow Intermittent fasting is relatively easy to get accustomed to, and it does not cost much either.


With any diet plan, there are downsides, and with intermittent fasting you will be left with increased hunger, lower energy levels, nausea and dehydration. Also, you could put on weight with the regimen. That’s because fasting can cause you to eat more during the period of allowed eating than you generally would during the day or week.


Intermittent fasting is the term used for diets that involve a period of fasting alternated with a period of non-fasting. Technically, it isn’t considered a ‘diet’ but an ‘eating pattern’, because it focuses on timing your meals rather than controlling what foods you can and cannot include in your meals. Typically, intermittent fasting methods involve six to eight hours of feasting during the day, with the remaining 16 or 18 hours of the day spent fasting.

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