Intermittent fasting: fad diet or new way of eating?

Fasting is a common practice in many religions.  Catholics fast during Lent, Muslims during Ramadhan and Jews on Yom Kippur.  Buddhists and Hindus also have fasting as a common religious practice.  What is it about refraining from food that is so beneficial that so many cultures and religions practice it?  Science is just coming up with the answer.

A review article published in New England Journal of Medicine on Dec 26,2019. (N Engl J Med 2019;381:2541-51) states the many benefits of intermittent fasting on human health.

Intermittent fasting can be achieved in a few different ways.  You can do time restricted eating daily where you only eat during a 6 hour window, for example you would eat between 12pm and 6pm daily.  The other option is to do a 5:2 fast where you eat how you normally eat for 5 days a week and then fast for 2 days a week where you eat one reduced calorie meal of 500-700 calories.  Personally I prefer the restricted daily eating as the body gets used it and then it becomes your new normal.

When the stomach is empty for a prolonged period of time, body goes into what is called “metabolic switching” where it starts using fat for energy instead of glucose.  This switch is an important step which allows the body to carry out many processes that confer all the benefits of fasting

The benefits of intermittent fasting include :

    • Increased insulin sensitivity
    • Increased heart rate variability
    • Improved cholesterol profile
    • Healthy gut microbiota
    • Reduced abdominal fat
    • Reduced inflammation
    • Reduced blood pressure

So if you are going to try any new “diet” then Intermittent fasting is the way to go.  There is a lot of evidence as to its benefits and from personal experience, I feel it is not as hard as it appears.  Once the body gets used to 2 meals a day, you won’t even feel that hungry.  Let me know if you want to try it and need support.

Yours in Health & Wellness
Aziza Amarshi, RPh, RHN
Pharmacist & Holistic nutritionist