Everything You Need to Know About Starting Intermittent Fasting

Everything You Need to Know About Starting Intermittent Fasting

A diet that leads to weight loss and you can still eat your favourite foods… we're intrigued.

There has been a lot of buzz lately about intermittent fasting (IF). Celebrities have been raving about it, while many ardent IF followers swear by the new lifestyle change, boasting more clarity and energy along with the weight loss!

Here’s the question though, is it just another fad diet or is it the real deal?

What's all the hype about?

Dr Lee Phong Ching, Consultant, Department of Endocrinology, SGH, explains that intermittent fasting (IF) provides structure and limits the amount of time we spend eating. Thereby reducing the total calorie intake will be reduced. Of course, the result is weight loss.

So what exactly does this mean? The basic concept is to “fast” for a certain number of hours and “feed” (a healthy balanced diet) for the remainder of the day. We see this as more of a lifestyle change than a strict diet. It doesn't involve restricting or cutting out food groups, tedious calorie counting or fiddly portion control, making it easier to follow.

One does not feel deprived, and so the urge to binge is (hopefully) less.

Where do you begin and which method is best for you?

IF offers various types of fasts you can follow, which helps make it a change that is easier to stick to. Each type outlines the number of hours you feed and the number of hours you fast.

Best intermittent fasting methodBest intermittent fasting method

The 16:8 IF method is the most widely used. You fast for 16 hours and then eat during an 8-hour window. You consume your last meal at 8 pm and fast for the next 16 hours. Your next meal will be at noon. So essentially, you skip breakfast.

Other options include the 14:10 formula, and some people even swear by the 20-24 hour fast, once or twice a week. Then there’s the 5:2 plan, where you fast for two days restricting calories to 300-500 per day, eating your regular meals for the remaining five days.

What does it entail?

What you are doing through intermittent fasting is essentially reducing your calorie intake for the day. When you do this, your body will need to use another fuel source for energy after using up its sugar fuel. This process begins typically around 12 hours after you last ate and is where the body begins using the fat you have stored for energy, leading to weight loss.

It is important to understand that while you are fasting, you can consume only non-caloric drinks such as water, infused water, black tea, black coffee, herbal infusions and green tea. None of which contains sugar or even artificial sweeteners. The idea is that these drinks don’t upset the process inside your body while you are in a fasted state. 

If you have the green light from your health practitioner to give IF a try, as a starting point, fasting for 12 hours may be an excellent place to begin. You can then increase up to 16 hours if you see the desired results and feel the below-listed benefits or just feel fantastic overall!

Benefits you can expect

Along with the possibility of weight loss, IF boasts a whole host of possible health benefits.

5 benefits of intermittent fasting5 benefits of intermittent fasting

#1: Weight loss

As is to be expected, when you cut down or restrict your calorie intake, combined with a sensible diet, you should lose weight!

Coupled with light to moderate exercises, such as yoga, pilates or brisk walks, the effects can be pretty impressive! Ideally, you should time your workout, closer to the time you break your fast, or during your “feeding window”, to minimise any adverse effects and be sure to hydrate. Take drinks such as coconut water or sports rehydration drinks after breaking your fast.

IF has been shown to promote fat loss without causing any muscle damage, and when done with regular exercise, it can, in fact, promote muscle building.

#2: It is a flexible option

This type of “diet” is relatively flexible in terms of commitment. You don’t need to fast all seven days of the week. As shown above, there are also various routines you can follow.

You can intermittently fast for five days of the week, and for the remaining two days, you eat a regular balanced diet. This plan works well and fits most people’s busy schedules. For instance, the 16:8 or 14:10 fasts allow you to be disciplined during the week and enjoy the weekend!

However, if you are embarking on the 24-hour fast, it is advisable to do it for only a couple of days of the week while enjoying a regular healthy balanced diet for the remaining five days of the week.

#3: It is said to promote heart health

IF has been shown to lower blood pressure and generally improve overall heart health. This effect, in turn, can help reduce the risks for heart disease and heart attacks - a definite benefit!

#4: Improvement in diabetes and obesity

If you are at risk for diabetes and are obese, IF has been seen to improve weight loss and insulin sensitivity.

#5: Better thinking and memory power

Some people have claimed to have increased clarity and thinking while being in a fasted state - a welcome bonus!

The big question - is Intermittent Fasting for you?

Whether IF is for you is dependent on your health and preference. Yes, it provides an easy tailor-made option to maintaining and losing weight. Hey, when it’s this easy, you’re more likely to stick to it, right?

But we encourage you to chat with your doctor before beginning any diet or lifestyle change and gather all the support you can get from your #KydraSquad pals to make this lifestyle change a success!

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