Intermittent Fasting… is this your new secret weapon?
Until about ten years ago, ‘fasting’ was associated with religious practices or ‘cleansing’ approaches to wellness. Fasting went ‘mainstream’ as a weight loss method on the back of a television series by the ever-popular medical journalist Dr Michael Mosley, with the 5:2 approach of having 5 days of ‘normal’ eating and two days each week with a food intake of only 500 calories.
That approach has morphed into a range of strategies of restricting the ‘calorie consuming window’ for weight management, with associated reported (but as yet clinically unproven or untested) health benefits. So, in what circumstances might ‘fasting’ be worth considering, and under what circumstances should it be avoided?
In her 25 years’ experience as an Accredited Practising Dietitian, Dr Kerith Duncanson shared with us that for people with particular health conditions and personality types, intermittent fasting is particularly beneficial. These health and personality traits include:
- Individuals who are above their healthy weight and feel they need a ‘set plan’ to follow to reduce food intake
- People who want a simple approach to reducing calories, but know how to obtain a good overall balance of nutrients in their diet (“I know what I should be eating”)
- Those who feel they overeat or crave specific foods, and want to get out of that habit
- People who want to curb their appetite, knowing they eat too much food relative to physical activity
On the flip-side, those people for whom intermittent fasting would not be recommended by Dr Duncanson would be:
- Anyone with complex medical conditions and medications (except under dietetic and medical supervision) or are recovering from illness
- People who suffer from hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels)
- Those who require consistent intake of specific nutrients, eg. women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Athletes, especially if maintaining muscle mass is a priority for your sport
- For those with inflammatory conditions, prolonged intermittent fasting (full days) is not recommended, but short term, same day periods of fasting may be appropriate
- Those who prefer ‘cutting back a little’ each day, the ‘moderation’ approach might suit better
Fasting is equally as effective as other methods of calorie restriction for weight and metabolic health as long as overall nutrition remains a priority, and specific health and medical needs are considered.
Dr Kerith Duncanson
Accredited Practicing Dietitian
Guest speaker at Golden Door Elysia Health Retreat and Spa