Intermittent fasting (IF) refers to a group of fasting diets that alternate between eating until full and fasting until empty, or fasting during certain times of the day. These diets come in various forms. The 2 most popular versions are as follows:
whereby people alternate between days with food and days without food. This means during the day of fasting, consuming around 25% of the total amount of calories that the body requires for a single day. Then on the eating day, consuming around 125% of the total recommended daily calorie intake.
which has been particularly popular in Thailand recently, is time-restricted feeding (TRF). This diet limits the times of the day during which the person may eat so as to leave the rest of the hours for the body to rest and cleanse. The eating window ranges from 12 hours all the way to 3 hours a day, with the most common being 16/8, meaning a fast of 16 hours and an eating window of 8 hours.
From research into IF fasting techniques that have been carried out on both humans and animals, it has been found that the TRF method yields greater results. Many studies have found that TRF has a greater effect on weight loss, fat percentage reductions, blood sugar level decreases and cholesterol level reductions. Additionally, those groups who adhere to a TRF regime combined with resistance training techniques find that it helps to reduce any muscle loss that may otherwise occur in conjunction with weight loss.
Therefore, if you would also like to hop on the IF bandwagon to help you lose weight, do have a go. However, it is recommended that you first try the TRF method rather that the alternate day fasting technique. Begin with a 12-hour fast, for example, eating breakfast after 6am and making sure to finish your evening meal before 6pm with no food consumed before bedtime. Then, gradually increase the fast time until you are only eating 2 meals, breakfast and lunch, and skipping dinner so that the body goes through a much longer period of fasting.
That being said, there are 2 things to be aware of when breaking your fast. The first is to make sure you eat healthily when it is the time to eat because eating whatever you fancy during TRF, like braised pork leg on rice, a cheese sandwich or fried chicken, will not result in weight loss, and possible even worsen overall health.
The second thing to remember is that these techniques are not suitable for people with underlying stomach conditions. If you feel a burning sensation in the stomach when fasting, please return to your normal, healthy diet because fasting to the extent that a gastric ulcer occurs will be a lot worse for your health in the long run.
In conclusion, you may want to try intermittent fasting techniques as they can help you lose weight, but don’t forget to exercise too, and remember not to push yourself so hard that it leads to you getting sick.
The First Class Honors Medical Degree, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University , 2000