Accredited dietitian and CEO of Be Fit Food, Kate Save, is an advocate of intermittent fasting diets such as 5:2 for rapid weight loss. She lays out her tips and tricks on how to nail this type of diet.
With so many different diets, meal plans, tips and tricks available these days it can be a little overwhelming when looking to choose the right method for rapid weight loss. One such method that has proven effective time and time again is intermittent fasting.
Despite becoming popular in more recent years, the concept of intermittent fasting isn’t a new one, in fact it has been around for a long time, and it boasts some amazing results for participants. Interestingly though, many people still don’t know exactly how it works, why it’s effective or how to go about it safely in order to achieve the desired results.
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves restricting your daily calorie intake to a relatively narrow window of time each day. One popular method for intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet. This involves eating normally for 5 days of the week and then restricting your calorie intake to 500-600 for 2 days of the week. Another example is the 16:8 method, which involves adopting an 8-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day.
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During intermittent fasting your body replaces burning glucose (carbohydrates) to burning fat as its primary source of energy and fuel. This results in rapid weight loss, as well as improvements in glucose regulation, blood pressure and heart rate. It should be noted that fasting requires commitment and with dedication you can see results anywhere between 2-10 weeks.
As well as rapid weight loss, fasting can have some major health benefits, including enhanced sleep, improved mental health and a reduction in the likelihood of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
Eating large meals before bed has been proven to negatively impact your sleep, preventing a refreshing sleep and promoting restlessness. However, fasting gives your digestive system a chance to settle down, bringing your body back to optional functioning and homeostasis. This will help you start the day feeling far more refreshed and energised, with a body clock that is more synchronised.
Mental Health Benefits
Anxiety disorders have been known to be linked to a person’s sleep, noting the importance of having a good sleep cycle to help improve the symptoms of anxiety. Therefore, fasting’s ability to restore equilibrium in that area, demonstrates its ability to lessen anxiety. It also steers participants away from foods that inevitably lead to energy crashes, with quick serotonin boots and can actually worsen a person’s symptoms over time.
Fasting is known to improve certain blood markers, such as increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL) and reducing triglycerides (TG), which are a type of fat present in the blood that is known to promote heart disease. Intermittent fasting can also reduce blood pressure and heart rate. These factors lead to improved heart health, and a lower chance of cardiovascular disease.
There’s more research to show that fasting successfully lowers blood glucose and insulin levels and is therefore an effective preventative method and treatment for the management of type-2 diabetes.
How to fast safely
The idea of rapid weight loss along with multiple health benefits may encourage newcomers to take the leap and begin their fasting journey, however, it is important that first-time fasters do so correctly and safely. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind while fasting:
Keep fasting periods short
The 5:2 diet is a good example of this, as you only fast for 2 days and are still receiving 25% of your daily calorie requirements. Longer fasting periods can increase the risks associated with fasting, such as dehydration, irritability, fainting, lack of energy and feelings of hunger.
Eat a small amount on fast days
This is also where the 5:2 diet is beneficial, as this can reduce the risk of fainting and other potential risks. Eating small amounts on fast days is far more sustainable than doing a complete fast followed by binge eating on the weekend.
You get 20-30% of your fluids from food, so dramatically cutting your food intake will therefore have an impact on your hydration levels throughout the day. You should aim to drink 2-3 Litres of water on fasting days but be careful to listen to your body, your thirst will tell you when it’s time to drink more water.
Don’t break fasts with feasts
It can be tempting after a fast to splurge on all of the foods you’ve been craving, however, this can leave you feeling bloated and tired and can impact any long-term weight loss goals. On your off days, try to stick to a normal eating routine and incorporate as many of the food groups as you can.
Stop fasting if you feel unwell
If you begin to feel unwell or become concerned for your health, stop fasting straight away. While tiredness, hunger and mood changes are normal, feeling sick is not. If you start to experience symptoms of dizziness, nausea and vomiting, chest pain or stomach pain, diarrhoea, or loss of consciousness please see your healthcare professional immediately.
Always speak to your doctor or healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet and/or lifestyle. Any kind of fasting is not recommended for women who are pregnant.
Overall, intermittent fasting can be a practical option for those seeking rapid weight loss. Any weight loss through fasting can be largely attributed to a significant reduction in calorie intake, however, its other benefits may also impact this. Be sure to do your research about intermittent fasting before undertaking it to make sure it is suited to you.
Kate Save is the CEO and co-founder of Be Fit Food, Australia’s leading ready-made meal provider for scientifically-backed healthy eating. Kate is also an accredited dietitian, exercise physiologist and diabetes educator.