If you’ve ever been sucked into the vortex of diet culture, then you’ll have probably heard about intermittent fasting as a means to shed weight.
However, Dr Rangan Chatterjee recently shared reasons why it has been a popular recommendation of his for the past 10 years. And, for the diet averse among us, you’ll be glad to know that it doesn’t centre around weight loss.
Before reading ahead, remember that intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone, particularly for those with a history of disordered eating.
So, how does it work exactly?
Writing in The Independent, Dr Chatterjee says that eating within a defined window helps us to be more aligned with our circadian rhythms, (that’s your body’s 24-hour internal clock). As such, it can help with blood sugar regulation and our immune health, as well as improve sleep quality and ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Speaking with HuffPost in 2018, Dr Adam Perlman, an internist at the Duke Center for Integrated Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, US explained, “Intermittent fasting is allowing the body to have a prolonged period of rest without calorie intake.”
“Research has also shown that intermittent fasting has effects on the gut flora, which might also explain some of the effects on metabolism,” Perlman said.
There are many ways to approach intermittent fasting, such as the 16:8 diet, in which you fast for 16 hours and then eat within an eight-hour window. There’s also the 5:2 diet, where you drastically cut back on calories just two days a week, and there are 24-hour fasts, where you don’t eat anything one day each month.
Dr Chatterjee’s ’12-hour’ fast is pretty straight forward. Imagine you have breakfast at 8, then have dinner at 8. That’s your 12-hour window. He says it’s an “easier” way to begin thinking about how and when to eat.
It certainly looks like this method has less restriction than other fasting patterns. Plus, as Dr Charrerjee writes, it’s a very “fluid and flexible” way to be kind to our bodies and mindful of our digestive health.