The Beginner's Guide to Intermittent Fasting

intermittentfasting Sep 03, 2020

Intermittent fasting. The latest buzzword on the health scene. 

Many people are aware that intermittent fasting is a popular diet to lose weight. But, is it all that it’s cracked up to be? Today, we’ll decipher the science to help YOU better understand the mechanisms behind intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting was first established to better manage breast cancer and dementia. Results highlighted favourable outcomes, one of those being weight loss. From here, the intermittent fasting diet was picked up by health gurus and commercialised for all.  

Simply put, intermittent fasting generally leads to a kilojoule restriction. A kilojoule deficit is created, by limiting the period of time you can eat and drink across the day. Inevitably, this results in weight loss. Other benefits to intermittent fasting include:

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Lower blood glucose and insulin levels.
  • An improved lipid profile.
  • Less inflammation in the body.
  • Improved recovery from illness, e.g. heart attack or stroke.
  • An extended lifespan.

Why would intermittent fasting extend your lifespan? 

It’s a bit of a tricky question, but let’s break it down.

In our bodies, we have an enzyme responsible for ageing. 
This enzyme is continuously in action when we eat regular meals across the day. This can accelerate the ageing process and shorten our overall life expectancy.

However, when intermittent fasting is practised, this enzyme is inhibited. T
his stimulates a cleaning process, by removing junk from the body. Junk may include defective proteins or dysfunctional mitochondria. Overall, this can reduce the risk of chronic disease and add a few extra years to your life!

However, if the cleaning process lasts too long, adverse side effects can arise. These detrimental consequences may include depression, anxiety, infertility, and bone issues. Hence, why intermittent fasting is INTERMITTENT. Meaning, it should only last for a short period of time.

There are three primary forms of intermittent fasting, which include periodic fasting, daily intermittent fasting (time-restricted fasting) and intermittent energy restriction.

Periodic fasting

Alternate day fasting is a common form of periodic fasting and generally describes full 24-hour fasts. That being, no food or drink for an entire 24 hours. These fasts can occur several times a week or several times a month. Periodic fasting can also increase feelings of hunger, which begs the question of its long-term sustainability. However, the evidence does highlight significant amounts of weight loss, especially of fat.


Intermittent restriction  

Another popular regimen includes the 5/2 diet, which describes five days of normal eating, with two days of restricted intake. Restricted intake generally sits around the 4,130 kilojoule mark (approx. 1000 calories). When the 5/2 diet is followed appropriately, individuals are likely to see improvements in:

- Fat levels.

- Insulin resistance.

- Energy restriction.


Daily intermittent fasting (time-restricted fasting)

The 16/8 diet has hit the headlines as one of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting. The diet involves sixteen hours of fasting, with an eight-hour window to consume food or fluid. There’s quite a lot of evidence to support this diet, as research showcases improvements in:

- Appetite.

- Weight loss & fat mass.

- Glucose levels and insulin sensitivity.

- Blood pressure.


There’s really no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to intermittent fasting, So, if you’re considering one of these diets, it’s a good idea to consult a dietitian. They can provide tailored support regarding which diet is likely to work best with your lifestyle, as well as nutritious food suggestions to meet dietary requirements. Here at CQ Nutrition, we are more than happy to help. The incredible dietetic team have both the knowledge and experience to help you achieve your health goals and select a diet that will work best for you. 

Written by Annabel Johnston, 



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