Is intermittent fasting for you?

What would you say if we were to tell you that the answer to losing weight, improving body health and feeling better overall is to skip a meal once in a while? A new study has confirmed that intermittent fasting can produce a whole host of health benefits.

Since the 1930s, scientists have been researching the benefits of reducing calories by skipping meals. There are studies which have found that significantly reducing calories can lead to a longer, healthier life. Further studies show that reducing calorie intake by 30–40 per cent, can extend your life span by up to a third or more. Fasting could also be a key to tackling the obesity epidemic and fatty liver disease. Furthermore, there’s evidence which shows that limiting food intake may reduce the risk of many other common diseases.

Intermittent fasting refers to lasting without food for a longer-than-normal period of time – say between 14–18 hours. Sound difficult? Well it may be easier than you think. In fact, you’re probably already more than half way there.

Each of us fasts every day – only we don’t call it fasting, we call it sleeping. And using the time in which you sleep is a good way to begin intermittent fasting. Eating your dinner at 7pm each night, then skipping breakfast the next day, will give you around 14–18 hours of fasting. The beauty of this system is that you are asleep for around 8–10 hours of the fasting period, so you don’t feel the pangs as much. Now, it goes without saying that everyone is different, and if you feel that you need to eat earlier the next day then you should trust what your body is telling you. It’s best for some to start small and then gradually increase the time between meals.

It will take some time for your body to adjust and it is always a good idea for you to speak to a doctor before you try intermittent fasting, especially if you have any medical conditions, dietary requirements or a chronic disease. You should also be self-aware, because fasting can play havoc with your emotional and physical state. Still, the benefits of fasting are well documented and it may well be worth it to at least give it a go. If it doesn’t work, or you don’t feel that it’s for you, then try something else. It won’t be the end of the world if fasting is not your thing.

If you feel like having a go at fasting, here are some things to keep in mind:

Drink plenty of water – staying well hydrated will make fasting much easier to get through

Retrain your mind – don’t think of fasting as depriving yourself from food; it’s better to think of fasting as ‘taking a break from eating’

Fast when you’re busy – it’s better to fast when you’re busy, not when you’ll be bored and tempted to have a snack

Get some exercise – intermittent fasting with exercise will help you get better results.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.