Nutritionist & women’s health expert Zoe Palmer-Wright shares the benefits of intermittent fasting for health.
Intermittent fasting (IF) has become popular in recent years as a means of achieving fat loss, however, I am much more interested in intermittent fasting for the positive impacts it has on metabolic health and I have been researching fasting as a means of health promotion for over 12 years.
Fasting refers to periods of voluntary abstinence from both food and calorific drinks, and has been practiced for hundreds of years all around the world for health and spiritual reasons. Intermittent fasting specifically refers to an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating and there are many various different forms of this kind of fasting.
One of the reasons for its popularity is that intermittent fasting is very flexible, you can choose a daily time-restricted eating window, or fast on one, two or three days per week – whatever works for you.
The most popular plan, the 5:2 – involves severe energy restriction for two non-consecutive days a week and regular eating the other five days. Many people love this because it allows them to choose the days they fast, and keep some normality in their life, while also experiencing dramatic health benefits.
Time-restricted eating is a another type of Intermittent Fasting where you only eat within a set time “window” for example, most commonly this is only within 8 hours of any 24hr day. This means the remaining 16 hours of the day you fast. There is also alternate-day fasting where you fast one, two or three days per week on non-consecutive days.
- Increased energy levels, feelings of wellbeing and positive mood
- Weight loss (body fat not water)
- Clearer and more radiant skin
- Better digestion
- Sensitised taste buds, greater enjoyment of food, regulated appetite and fewer cravings
- A strengthened immune system as well as diminished allergic symptoms
- Reduction in dark under eye circles
- Improved mental focus, clarity and productivity
Fasting can also improve insulin sensitivity, as well as a range of other biomarkers, and can benefit people with certain health conditions such as IBS and constipation, PMS, acne and eczema and joint pain.
If the above points resonate with you, then I would recommend giving fasting a try. It will help you to lose a few pounds, but the health benefits you will feel, will far outweigh the initial weight loss.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- People with a history of disordered eating patterns (or the eating disorders bulimia and anorexia)
- People suffering from chronic stress and exhaustion
- Anyone training or exercising intensively.
Additionally, if you are taking any prescription medicines I recommend you ask your GP/healthcare provider if it is suitable for you to fast.
Intermittent Fasting may also not be the most nourishing thing to do in the week before your period or during your period (although this is certainly not the case for all women). As with everything – it’s best to listen to your own body and see what feels best for you.
If you do decide to do the 5:2 form of Intermittent Fasting, a nutritious FOGA Plantshake is perfect in this regard. Plantshakes are instant whole plant smoothies, and are the perfect way to ward off hunger and deliver a low calorie nutrient and energy boost. Each Plantshake is around 100 calories each, and they come in a variety of delicious flavours including Kiwi & Greens, Banana & Turmeric, and Peach & Cayenne. Foga have launched a discounted bundle specifically to support the 5:2 diet – it includes a months supply, which you can choose to use when you wish, a comprehensive e-guide which includes a daily plan and a shaker to make them on the move.
And if you are doing Intermittent Fasting within an 8-hour daily feeding window and 16 hour fast, or alternate day fasts, you can also incorporate Plantshakes into your feeding window to ensure you are getting the nutrients and fibre you need.
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