Intermittent fasting – is it for everyone?

Intermittent fasting has become one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. People are using it to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their lifestyles. But is it for everyone?

Fasting has been around for decades and many different religions practise some sort of fasting during holy periods.

However, intermittent fasting (IF) is a type of weight loss strategy in which the person undergoes a voluntary fast for a specific period of time. The benefit of this fasting is that after 12 hours your body starts to break down fat through a process called lipolysis; as opposed to storing fat, which is typically seen after eating a meal. Scientists refer to this process as a way to flip your metabolism’s switch.

The benefits of IF include weight loss, some improvements in blood glucose levels, anti-aging effects, reduction in cardiovascular risk, as well as cancer.


May not be good for everyone

Whilst there is growing evidence that IF has its benefits, it’s crucial to remember it may not be an approach that works for everyone. It’s important to work with an expert, such as a registered dietitian, to determine which strategy would be the best for you. This could be IF, low-carb diets, Keto diet, Calorie restriction, Very Low-Calorie diets (800kcal), etc. Remember, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

The best approach for IF would be the 16/8 whereby you consume all your calories in an 8-hour window. This would mean having supper at 6pm and then your next meal at 10am the next morning. The best results have been seen when you combine IF and a calorie restriction; this means one should still be mindful of the types of foods being eaten in the 8-hour window.

Some research shows that IF actually helps with fat loss, as well as fat redistribution whereby the fat around the tummy is redistributed in the body, thereby reducing the risk of cardiac disease.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone, since it does not always yield positive results and can cause hypoglycaemia for people with diabetes and low blood glucose levels in pregnant women.

Although intermittent fasting can seem convenient to do, it is advisable that you consult your medical practitioner before implementing it, especially if you have a medical condition.


Omy Naidoo is a registered dietitian and founder of Newtricion Wellness Dieticians. He has been in practice for 13 years. He worked within the government sector and then moved into the pharmaceutical industry. His key focus is on diabetes products. This enabled him to further his knowledge and skills in diabetes management. Thereafter he went into private practice.

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