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Intermittent fasting means you restrict when you eat (rather than what you eat).
There are different approaches to intermittent fasting, the most popular involving limiting your eating to a certain time frame e.g. 12pm - 8pm or the 5:2 method where you eat normally for 5 days and then eat very little (e.g. one meal’s worth) for 2 non consecutive days. Some studies claim being in a fasted state gives you additional fat burning powers.
- Weight loss is achieved in the short term.
- Some may find it easier than regular calorie restriction i.e. eating less at each meal.
- Don’t need to change what you eat and is more practical than other diets.
- Some intermittent fasting plans can be very restrictive on when and how much you can eat.
- Does not focus on the quality of what you eat.
- No evidence that it is better than calorie restriction.
- No long term evidence is available of it’s effectiveness.
Can intermittent fasting help you lose weight? In the short term, yes. Is it safe? Well, that depends on the regime you follow. Having too long a fasting period, and generally not eating enough will leave you feeling tired, and puts you at risk of vitamin deficiencies and muscle loss.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t focus on what you eat. This can be a good and bad thing. Good because you don’t need to buy a whole lot of new foods or cut out any of your favourite foods, not so good because it doesn’t emphasise the importance of a healthy balanced diet.
The main complaint people have when following intermittent fasting is hunger, which is not surprising. This hunger may make you eat when you are supposed to be fasting or eat a bit too much during non fasting times, which might make weight loss even harder to achieve.
And there is no evidence that intermittent fasting is any better for weight loss than regular calorie restriction by reducing how much you eat. It is better to continue to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and still lose weight as long as you make these meals nutritious and balanced.