If you’re into health trends, you’ll know all about fasting. But for those of you who aren’t across it, put simply, fasting is just a fancy term for not eating! There are different ways to incorporate fasting into your healthy eating routine and I’m going to outline some of those. But the burning question for you is – what’s so special about a fasting diet and how can it radically improve my health? Read on to learn the answers and to find out some tips on getting started with fasting.
Intermittent fasting and its health benefits
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of cycling between periods of eating and fasting. Most of us already fast every night (while we sleep) but with intermittent fasting you may extend the fast by missing breakfast or dinner, or just eating during a specific window of time during the day.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to exert a number of remarkable improvements in terms of our cardiovascular and metabolic health markers. The benefits of fasting include:
- Reduction in body fat
- Lower blood pressure
- Better cholesterol levels
- Enhanced insulin sensitivity
Why is fasting considered transformational?
The key thing with intermittent fasting is that it emphasises when you eat over what you eat. And that is good news for many people who obsess over macros, calories and portion sizes, or struggle with yo-yo dieting. Intermittent fasting is also flexible so you can approach it in the best way for your lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting is certainly not a green light for tucking into a bunch of calorie dense, high fat/high sugar foods, not at all. Eating a healthy diet, packed with plenty of colourful fruit and vegetables, quality protein and healthy fats will always be crucial to achieving optimal health. That dietary mix delivers the right nutrient profile for the proper functioning of our bodies so you should be aiming to achieve that foundation regardless of any eating pattern. Fasting is simply an adjunct to healthy eating that can provide an extra boost towards achieving your health, wellbeing and weight loss goals. Here are a few commonly used techniques for integrating fasting into your routine.
The 16/8 Method
This fasting method advocates keeping your eating time to an 8 hour window per day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours per day. The beauty of this method is its simplicity. You can achieve the eating window by skipping breakfast and not eating anything after dinner. Most people would eat two or three meals per day. You can also drink non-caloried beverages at other times to reduce hunger. Examples are tea, coffee, water (but no milk or sugar).
The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 diet is one of the most well recognised and popular methods of intermittent fasting. Designed by Dr Michael Mosley, it recommends cutting food intake on two non-consecutive days a week by skipping either breakfast or dinner. You eat healthy food on the other days in your normal eating pattern, which for most people is three meals a day with a snack or two. This diet has become wildly popular as it’s so easy to adopt and can deliver real health improvements, such as reversing or improving Type 2 Diabetes.
The Blood Sugar (Fast 800) Diet
Fast forward a few years and Dr Mosley launched his second fasting diet, the Blood Sugar Diet. This incorporates his famous Fast 800, aimed at faster weight loss. With new research under this belt, he settled on 800 calories per day as being the sweet spot for activating metabolic health benefits and rapid weight loss, yet remaining sustainable for participants. Following the Fast 800 method means eating a Mediterranean style diet of 800 calories every day of the week, allowing an overnight fast of at least 12 hours or more. This is recommended as a kick-start for your body, usually for between 2 and 8 weeks in total. Then Dr Mosley promotes moving onto the 5:2 diet for maintenance as the 5:2 diet is less restrictive (and therefore more sustainable) in the mid-long term.
The easiest way to get started with intermittent fasting
Do you like the sound of intermittent fasting and think it could be your new secret weapon? If you want to give it a try, one of the simplest ways is to go with a ready-made plan. I’ve been working with Dietlicious for over two years now and highly recommend their food. They offer a huge range of healthy meals that are made from scratch using high quality wholefood ingredients. Their weekly meal plans include a 5:2 Diet option as well as the Fast 800 option.
If you’re not great in the kitchen or have trouble resisting temptation, having it all ready-made can mean a greater chance of success. Your daily nutrition is taken care of, not to mention you save time on shopping and cooking. You get a range of great tasting meals so all you need to worry about is watching the clock for when to eat them!