What is the Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan?
According to Google data, intermittent fasting was the most searched for diet trend in 2019. So, what exactly is it? Just another fad diet, or something more?
DOES FASTING MEAN NO FOOD?
The short answer here is no. The longer answer, as ever, is slightly more complex.
There are two main versions of intermittent fasting: One is the 5:2 regime, made popular by Dr Michael Mosely; The other is called 16:8. Each balance their ‘fasting’ slightly differently.
WHAT IS THE 5:2 DIET?
The 5:2 diet plan is a regime where you eat normally for 5 days of the week, then restrict calories to between 500-800 for the remaining two days. Therefore, there are no days where you avoid eating altogether, and only two days of the week where you must think about calorie counting.
The guidelines are simple too. The two days you restrict calories can be any two days, as long as they are not consecutive. Most people choose a Monday and a Thursday, so that the regime does not interfere with their weekend!
WHAT ABOUT THE 16:8?
The 16:8 refers to the hours of the day. In this regime you are basically restricting your food consumption to just 8 hours of the day, the other 16 hours are drinks (water, tea, coffee, not thick shakes!) only. In this way you are really cutting out one of your meals every day, which naturally reduces your calorie intake.
• These regimes are both reasonably easy to follow and require minimal levels of planning. They are also easy to maintain long term.
• Intermittent fasting has been well researched, and its fans say that it can help improve health. Claims include reduced cholesterol, improvements in blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, as well as effective and sustained weight loss.
• Because you are restricting the amount of food on certain days or to certain hours, you should also learn which foods fill you up and satisfy you the best. This is something else which contributes to long term success.
• Some people struggle with the concept of no snacking within the 16 hours, or the planning required to obtain just 500-800 calories within a day.
• People with blood sugar issues should talk to a doctor first, to make sure that engaging with the intermittent fasting plan will not adversely affect their blood sugars.
• This type of regime should not be undertaken by anyone with a history of eating disorder.
• Some people may struggle with the hunger during the fasting phases of their chosen regime.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
As always, if this type of diet plan appeals to you, do your research. Get recipes, make a plan and stick to it. Also, if you choose the 5:2 plan, decide which days will be your fasting days and stick to them! Changing your mind halfway through a day will result in failure of the regime.