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Introduction to Intermittent Fasting


A common thread among many diets is they tell you what to eat. The Intermittent fasting plan’s focus is on when you eat.

Introduction to  the 5 most popular eating styles. 

Part 3

Intermittent Fasting  

What is it?

A common thread among many diets is they tell you what to  eat. The Intermittent fasting plan’s focus is on when you eat.

By eating during a specific time and fasting for a certain number of hours daily, can help your body burn fat.

This is the main reason people adopt this eating regime however there are other health benefits too.

It was Mark Mattson, neuroscience from John Hopkins, who studied intermittent fasting for 25 years. He believes our bodies have evolved to a point where we can go without food for a long period of time.

Caveman were hunters and gatherers who thrived for long periods without food because it was very time consuming trying to hunt for game and of course this involved physical exertion. 

Let’s go back 50 years ago, where is appeared to be  easier to sustain a healthy weight.

As Mark says reminds us, were no computers, the tv stations locked down at 11 pm and people went to bed.  We spent more time outside more playing games and got more exercise. We also had more time to prepare real food.

Now we sit more, eat more, move less, watch more. We have a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes and as well as higher levels of stress and anxiety.

Scientific studies are showing that intermittent fasting may help reverse these trends.

How does intermittent fasting work?

Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.

To do this we choose regular time periods to eat and fast. There are many options to choose from to do intermittent fasting. Such as you may eat during an 8 hour period and fast for the rest of the day. Another way is to choose to eat only one meal a day for 2 days a week.

Another, known as the 5:2 approach, which I believe Michael Mosley introduced to the world a few years ago.

This involves regularly eating five days a week. For the other two days, you limit yourself to one 500–600 calorie meal. An example would be if you chose to eat normally on every day of the week except Mondays and Thursdays, which would be your one-meal days.

The downside of this is that most people think those 5 days you can eat whatever you eat and this is not the case. Those on this plan need to be mindful and take enjoy eating good clean nutritious food which supports good health.

Michael has since brought out another diet called the 800 calorie plan. 

What can I eat?

The Mediterranean diet is recommended as a good guide to as to what to eat. We highlighted this plan Introduction to the Mediterranean Diet – Femme Fitale

To reiterate, those 5 days are not a invitation to eat with high-calorie junk food, super-sized fried items and treats. Water and zero-calorie beverages such as black coffee and tea are permitted.

Mattson says that after hours without food, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat. He refers to this as metabolic switching.

The Benefits

The metabolic switching Mattson refers to says it effects not only the body but the brain. Here are some intermittent fasting benefits research has revealed so far:

  • Thinking and memory. Studies discovered that intermittent fasting boosts working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans.
  • Heart health. Intermittent fasting improved blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other heart-related measurements.
  • Physical performance. Young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice who were fed on alternate days showed better endurance in running.
  • Diabetes and obesity. In animal studies, intermittent fasting prevented obesity. And in six brief studies, obese adult humans lost weight through intermittent fasting.
  • Tissue health. In animals, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage in surgery and improved results.
  • Protection of Organs. Can protect organs against chronic disease such as heart disease, age related neurodegenerative disorders and some cancers.

Is it safe? 

Before trying this programme its recommended to speak to your doctor regarding why you want to try this, Is it just about losing weight?

It is not recommended for

  • Children and teens under age 18.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • People with diabetes or blood sugar problems.
  • Those with a history of eating disorders

*This article was summarised from many articles from Mark Mattson on this topic.

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