Ro Huntriss - EXALT Clinical Lead Dietitian
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Safe & Sustainable?
Our clinical-lead dietitian & nutritionist Ro Huntriss, was recently asked by Women's Health to contribute her thoughts on intermittent fasting on our behalf 🤯 🥳
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) has become a popular dietary intervention over recent years, largely due to the 2012 BBC documentary "Eat, Fast and Live Longer". Since then its popularity has skyrocketed, and research has associated it with many health benefits.
One of its best-known benefits is weight loss (1). But the benefits seem to stretch even further than that, as studies have shown a reduction in blood sugar and insulin levels (2). So IF could be a useful tool for those with diabetes or at risk of diabetes. Intermittent fasting (IF) has also shown to improve inflammation (3) and could even help us to live longer (4)!
Is Fasting A Sustainable Way to Lose Weight?
IF can be a sustainable way to lose weight if you can handle it, and get over the initial steps of getting used to the regime. It takes getting used to going hungry for longer periods of time than you'll initially be used to — and that can be a really difficult thing to handle some days!
If you like freedom over your day and meal-plan you may feel restricted by IF.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
There are many variations of IF. But two of the most popular are the 16:8 and the 5:2 structures.
The 16:8 structure is where you fast for 16 hours (including the time your sleep) and you eat within an 8-hour window. Use this simple calculator to work out when your last meal, and first meal the next day should be.
The 5:2 structure applies to the 7 days of the week (5+2) instead of hours of the day. It is typically when you eat as normal throughout the week, but for two days of the week, calories are significantly reduced to approximately 500-600 calories per day. The fasting days can be changed each week, as long as there are two fasting days in each seven.
What Foods To Eat Between Intermittent Fasting?
It's no good just relying on IF to save your diet if you fill your 8 hour window with big-macs and frappuccino's.
As important as the fasting aspect is, what we consume during the non-fasting window is equally as important. Lots of high-calorie, processed foods will dull the positive effects of the fasting, so it’s important to focus on whole, nutritious foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and lean protein sources as the foundation to your diet. With - of course - the occasional treat.
What Are the Downsides of Intermittent Fasting?
Well, for one... no more fry-ups on a Sunday morning. And depending on your timings, maybe no brunch either. You have to sacrifice either morning meals or evening meals, there's no in-between. The thought might be almost too much to bear for some.
Plus, although intermittent fasting can work well for many, it won’t be suitable for all. For example, this approach would not be advised if somebody was pregnant, breastfeeding, prescribed certain medications or has experienced an eating disorder in the past.
EXALT's high-protein smoothies offer all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) using only natural ingredients offering a generous nutrient provision. The EXALT range is a great option on your non-fasting days if following the 5:2 diet or during your eating window if following a 16:8 or similar approach. The high protein levels also help you to manage your hunger whilst fasting, and the nutrient provision will help to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.