The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that intermittent fasting reduces blood pressure, helps weight loss and improves longevity. The concept is occasional starvation, and practitioners describe two main types:

  • Circadian rhythm (daily) restrictions – instead of eating throughout the day which most of us do, one restricts their eating to a 8 hour window every day
  • 5:2 intermittent fasting, where 2 days per week are capped at around 500 calories

The evidence is emerging and relevant for us to explore, but we need to consider circumstances for each individual.

In obesity and diabetes, studies have shown lower obesity risk in general populations, improved metabolism (reduced fat and increased muscle) and in some reported cases, actually reversed the progression of diabetes (reduced medication requirements including insulin).

In cognitive function and longevity, studies have shown improved neuroplasticity, improved verbal function and an association with longer life spans. Shift workers that have time-based restrictions on their diet can perform better at work.

So how do we do this effectively, if this emerging research holds true? Some tips include:

  1. Eliminate night time eating after dinner – this has a direct correlation with developing diabetes
  2. Reduce sugars and refined grains – see our blog on plant-based diets
  3. Be active and build muscle tone in between meals – walk it off (briskly) or exercise
  4. Eliminate snacks – helps your body go into negative caloric balance
  5. If you are to try intermittent fasting, don’t go overboard and binge during the “on” hours or days – total consumption is key

Anyone keen on trying intermittent fasting can talk to one of our dietitians.