Should I try intermittent fasting? Pros + Cons of intermittent fasting
Why would you ever want to starve yourself by choice?
If you’ve ever stumbled upon the intermittent fasting trend, you’ve probably had this thought.
Yet despite the fact that this style of eating seems so obviously restrictive, it’s all the rage right now.
So perhaps you are a little bit curious about intermittent fasting. Maybe you’ve even thought about trying it (especially if a friend or colleague has just lost loads of weight on it!)
To help quench your curiosity, I’ve set the record straight on the intermittent fasting diet trend. Here’s what you need to know.
What is intermittent fasting?
Put simply, intermittent fasting is when you cycle through periods of eating and not eating.
There are a couple of different ways people choose to do this. Some people will fast for a couple of days (for example, Monday and Tuesday), then eat normally for the rest of the week.
However, the most common version is when you have a set period within which you’ll have your meals (for example, between 12 pm to 8 pm) and you don’t eat outside the confines of that.
The two most popular intermittent fasting protocols are 16:8 (where you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8) and the 5:2 diet, where you restrict to 500-600 calories per day.
Another version is Eat-Stop-Eat, where once or twice a week, a 24-hour fast where you don't eat anything from dinner until dinnertime the next day.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Unsurprisingly, the most popular and well-publicised benefit of intermittent fasting is the weight loss.
Thus the current obsession with it.
But beyond that, other reported benefits of intermittent fasting are improved mental clarity and focus, increased energy levels and reduced blood cholesterol levels.
Why does intermittent fasting lead to weight loss?
Provided you don’t binge on 25 packets of chips during your allocated meal times, you’re inevitably going to end up consuming less calories than usual, which leads to weight loss.
Also helping things along is the fact that if you fast for long enough, it may push your body into the metabolic state of ketosis.
This is when your body’s fuel source switches from glucose (because it doesn’t have enough coming in) and starts burning fat. It’s likely that this process accounts for the other benefits people are reporting (for example, the mental clarity).
Does intermittent fasting work?
Intermittent fasting does work.
There are loads of studies to suggest that fasting can be effective for your health and losing weight.
And now heaps of doctors are recommending it to patients.
But the thing is that ALL diets work. Until they don’t work. Until you realise that you don’t want to intermittently fast for the rest of your life.
And intermittent fasting - like all diets - only works while you’re following it.
Plenty of research shows that most people (an estimated 95% of people) don’t stick to diets, and end up gaining more weight than lost.
So yes, it works - but how long can you really maintain it?
And considering that weight cycling (that’s when your weight goes up and down a lot) has been shown to be worse for you than being overweight, is it better not to try intermittent fasting as all?
Should you try intermittent fasting?
Only if you think you can live like this for the rest of your life.
I’m being serious.
Most people think: “I’ll just lose weight by intermittent fasting and then I’ll transition to ‘general healthy eating”.
I’m so sorry to say it but this isn’t going to work.
When you deprive yourself of food, going back to just ‘eating everything in moderation’ is even tougher because now you feel deprived and cravings are most likely stronger.
If ‘general healthy eating’ strategy was going well, then you wouldn’t need to try intermittent fasting in the first place.
Instead of intermittent fasting, why not get serious about creating a really healthy ‘general healthy eating’ now - and skip the middle man, or woman?
One of the biggest concerns about intermittent fasting is that it’s dangerous. However, people have been intermittent fasting for centuries with no serious health complications.
But does that mean you should try intermittent fasting? Hell no! Walking on a bed of lego pieces or having a pap smear every day for the rest of your life (probably) won’t kill you, but does that mean you want to do it? Because chances are, it would be a similar level of discomfort.
Intermittent fasting is still a highly restrictive way of eating. It can wreak havoc on your social life (“Oh, you want to go to brunch? Sure, but I can only go after 2 pm!”) and lead to obsessive thoughts about food.
Plus, it can make you hangry during those periods when you’re not eating, and nobody wants to deal with that!
If you’re someone who is never hungry for breakfast or likes to have dinner really early then hey, maybe intermittent fasting would work for you. You may already be doing it without knowing!
But if it feels like something that’s going to be a punish to fit into your lifestyle, chances are you won’t stick to it for more than a few weeks.
And with this kind of thing, you really need to stick to it long-term to see any kind of lasting change — otherwise, the second you stop you’ll most likely put the weight back on, and then some.
Unless you want to fast periodically for the rest of your life, this is yet another diet trend best left on the shelf.
Ready to ditch the fads and eat well without restriction? My new book The Nude Nutritionist is filled with 50+ healthy, easy and delicious recipes using everyday ingredients.
You can get it online here.
Enjoyed this post? Here’s a few more healthy blog posts you might love:
Ever wondered how you can build confidence? Do you want to become more confident in how you look so you are less self conscious? Here’s my guide to long-lasting unconditional confidence.
Would you take off your clothes in a room filled with strangers? I did - and it was amazing. Here’s what I learned from stripping off.
With all the hype, you’re probably at least a little bit curious about intermittent fasting. To set the record straight, I’m answering your burning questions like “Does intermittent fasting really work?” and “Should I try intermittent fasting”?
By working with (not against my cycle) I’ve discovered incredible ways to better manage my mood, body confidence, skin, hunger, cravings, exercise, sleep, sex drive and energy. Here’s how tracking my period helped me improve my health.
Feel guilty for demolishing the kitchen in another food binge? Angry with yourself for overeating yet again? Here are some simple strategies to help transform the binge into something useful.
If you want to become a nutritionist or a dietitian, this is my honest advice on starting a career in nutrition. Find out how I got my nutrition career started, what I recommend for study and how much nutritionists and dietitians earn. Plus more!
I got to have a chat with the legendary Ian Thorpe about mental health, body image and his work with Reach Out.
Are you too hard on yourself? Do you lie in bed at night running through all the ways you’ve failed or aren’t ‘good enough’? It’s essential to learn to be kind to yourself. Here are my go-to strategies when I need to be extra kind to myself.
The hashtag #celeryjuice has amassed over 80,000 photos on Instagram, with everyone from health bloggers to celebs espousing the benefits of the stalk-like vegetable. Read on to learn more about the celery juice trend and whether you should bother trying it.
They say you can never have too much of a good thing, but this isn’t the case for exercising or eating healthy. Here’s how to tell if you’re under eating or over exercising - and the steps to take to help you bring back balance.
Do you feel bloated after finishing a meal? Here’s how to know if it’s actually a health issue for you, and what to do if it is.
While I won’t pretend to know exactly what’s in store for this year, these are the things I’m most excited about in 2019 — in my career, health and life.
Diet new year’s resolutions don’t work, and they’re distracting you from setting goals that actually matter. Here are some inspiring new year’s resolutions you can set instead.
With free-flowing food, swimsuits and tonnes of photos being taken, the holidays can be a hard time to be confident and body positive. Here’s some things to keep in mind to help banish food guilt and feel good about yourself over the holidays.
Feeling guilty for not reaching your 2018 health goals or new years resolutions? If you didn’t smash all your 2018 health goals, have a read of this.
Confused by what foods are actually healthy for you? Here are 5 foods that normally get a bad rep for being unhealthy. Luckily, they’re actually healthy for you.
Looking for a new swimsuit that makes you feel good? Here are some of the best one-piece and bikini swimsuit brands in 2018.
Follow these 3 steps to boost your body image, without deleting Instagram. Transform social media from comparison trap to a confidence booster.
Some Instagram accounts can help you love your body. Here’s the BEST 12 body positive Instagram accounts that can boost body positivity.
There’s a simple reason why you don’t feel full after smoothies + how one small tweak can make the difference.
Here are 6 things you can do to stop feeling fat.
There are few very important things to keep in mind if you want to teach your children how to have a healthy relationship with food.
How many years have you wasted hating your body and wishing you looked like someone else? If you feel unhappy with your body and hate your weight, it’s time for a change.
I'm not sure why it's called the 'health' food aisle...
I used to hate my body (I mean like really hate my body). But now I love my body, something I never thought was possible! So, how do you go from hating your body to loving your body? Here’s 15 ways how I learned to love my body and be body confident.
I travel as much as I can, hopping on a plane about once a month. Here’s how I stay healthy when I travel.
Looking for the best restaurants and places to eat in Prague? I've got you sorted. Here is my list of the best places to eat in Prague in 2018.
Eat healthily, save money and reduce food waste.
Loving your body in a society that tells you not to is a radical act of self-love. I learned that having a supportive partner can help you learn to love your body.
You spent all week eating well but the scales don't reflect it. If you eat healthily and still can't lose weight, read this.
Some healthy recipes you might love!
In just 15 minutes, you’ll have this flavourful, easy and healthy meal ready to eat.
Here's a quick and healthy breakfast recipe idea with only 5 ingredients. It's a great meal prep recipe to make ahead of a busy week! All you need is milk, oats, chia seeds, cacao and maple syrup to create this quick and easy breakfast meal.
If you’re looking for a quick, one-pot, midweek meal – try out my healthy 20-minute chicken curry. Yum!
With just 5-ingredients, this super simple Low GI rice pudding is awesome for breakfast or dessert. Oh, and did I mention it’s ready in just 10 minutes?!
Best. Healthy. Appetiser! Big call - I know - but this healthy appetiser is seriously great to take to a party. It’s got texture and flavour PLUS it’s super easy. My friends loved it. I bet your friends will too… Enjoy making this delicious recipe!
This quick and easy healthy dinner recipe is going to spice up your midweek meals. With a few basic, everyday ingredients and one-pan - you’ll pull together a delicious and healthy dinner the whole family will enjoy.
This is comfort food made healthy! It's rich, it's creamy and also loaded with six sneaky serves of vegetables - making it ideal for kids and adults alike.
Warning: You're going to want to eat the entire tray of these crispy sweet potato curly fries. Good thing they’re healthy and easy to make!
Mornings just got a whole lot more cosy and tasty with this 5-minute breakfast. Perfect breakfast for cold mornings.
Finally! A delicious smoothie recipe that easy to make AND keeps me full for hours. I’ve been waiting for you a long time…
No time to cook? Make dinner great again with this 20 minute super-simple recipe. Faster and more convenient than takeaway. But the best bit? Minimal cleaning up.
Here’s a quick and easy midweek dinner option. I’ve snuck vegetables into these delicious patties so they’re a fabulous for lowering your grocery bill and boosting your health by eating less meat.
Want a simple, yet healthier lasagne without the fuss? This healthy lasagne is the best comfort food. It’ll help you eat healthily on a budget and it’s vegetarian, so it’s perfect for meat-free Monday.
Is this the best mushroom soup recipe ever? This soup is seriously delicious, east, affordable and simple recipe. Perfect for beautifully healthy for meal prep or mid-week dinners.
My mum makes the BEST Thai Corn Soup. I turned it into a healthy version that doesn’t compromise on flavour. This healthy recipe is great for meal prep, if you’re on a budget or love meat-free Mondays.
A surprisingly quick and easy breakfast idea for a seriously healthy start to your day.
This super simple one tray salmon bake is a game-changer for mid-week meals.
This one-tray balsamic chicken is a perfectly balanced meal to make for a mid-week dinner (or meal prep)!
This Loaded Greek Salad is one of my favourite recipes. It uses everyday ingredients to create something really special... in a matter of minutes.
One pot and just a few key ingredients, this easy (and cheap!) recipe will create a delicious meal. Make it for Meat-free Monday and you'll have plenty of leftovers to enjoy throughout the week.
A delicious 4-ingredient treat. I pretty much just took the yummiest ingredients and blitzed them up into a recipe. How could it not be good?
This is an easy, classic and oh-so-delicious salad recipe to add to your repertoire. It's perfect for meal prep...!
With only four ingredients, this simple salad is perfect for mid-week meals (or entertaining).
The perfect Summer BBQ salad to impress friends and family. Add this healthy recipe to your repertoire when you're next entertaining.
You're busy? Me too! So here is an easy and healthy mid-week Eggplant Parmigiana. You pretty much throw all the ingredients into a tray so it's kinda hard to mess up. Enjoy!
You'll want oodles of these zoodles with this delicious creamy avocado dressing. Topped with flakey almonds, bright cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese, I know you're going to love this healthy recipe.
When you make your own muesli or granola, it's often a lot healthier because you know exactly what goes into it. Try my homemade toasted muesli (granola) recipe for a healthier breakfast cereal.
This soup is so filling and healthy. I'll meal prep this recipe ahead of a busy week. It's a great way to get through veggies in the fridge and feed the family a really nourishing meal for less.
Tomatoes are at their best during Spring and Summer and this simple 4-ingredient Tomato and Feta Salad is a winner, especially for BBQ season. Swap the boring same-same salad for this simply wonderful dish.
This quick and easy overnight oats is wonderful for busy mornings. You can meal prep them on the weekend ahead of a busy week.