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Is intermittent fasting right for you?

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a term used to describe a few approaches which result in increased fasting (with either no food or a significant calorie reduction) compared to a usual dietary pattern. This includes time-restricted eating, alternate day fasting or reducing calorie intake on 2 days per week (such as the 5:2 diet). The premise behind intermittent fasting is that it results in a calorie-deficit which may be easier to maintain than traditional dieting approaches.

The most common approach is time-restricted eating which involves restricting food intake to a 4–12-hour window only. For example, the 16:8 diet involves 16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of normal eating. In practice this may involve eating normally between 11am-7pm and then fasting from 7pm-11am.

What are the pros?

Intermittent fasting is generally well tolerated and safe for most individuals
Time restricted eating such as 16:8 can be easier to follow than a regular calorie deficit
Time-restricted eating may have benefits outside of weight loss such as improving fasting blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity
Intermittent fasting may improve cardiometabolic risk factors such as cholesterol levels and blood pressure
Most studies have shown greater preservation of lean body mass when following an intermittent fasting diet than a regular calorie deficit.

What are the cons?

For some people, intermittent fasting can be too restrictive and as a result may lead to overeating
May impact concentration and mood
Alternate day fasting can be more difficult to adhere to than a regular calorie deficit
It is not recommended for individuals who are pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, taking cholesterol or blood pressure medication or have a history of disordered eating, without prior discussion with a healthcare professional.

How do I know if it’s right for me?

There are a few factors to consider when determining whether intermittent fasting if right for you. One of which is your ability to adhere to the diet. If you’re someone who usually only eats 2-3 meals per day, then it might be easier to follow a time-restricted eating pattern than someone who regularly eats 3 meals and 3 snacks per day. Additionally, if you have difficulty eating late at night, you may need to adjust your eating window to account for this.

Despite evidence that intermittent fasting can result in weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity, this is not the case for all individuals. Research has shown that our body’s fat burning capacity can impact our body weight and body fat. Therefore, understanding and modifying this fat burning ability, may increase the effectiveness of weight loss interventions, such as intermittent fasting.

Utilising a method known as indirect calorimetry to determine your metabolic efficiency (or whether your body is burning fat effectively when fasted) can provide an insight into whether intermittent fasting may be right for you. It also allows you to receive individualised recommendations tailored specifically to your metabolism.   

Life First now offers a metabolic program which includes indirect calorimetry testing using ECal as well as body composition analysis using SOZO. Get in touch with us if you want to find out more!




Cho, Y., Hong, N., Kim, K.W., Cho, S.J., Lee, M., Lee, Y.H., Lee, Y.H., Kang, E.S., Cha, B.S. and Lee, B.W., 2019. The effectiveness of intermittent fasting to reduce body mass index and glucose metabolism: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(10), p.1645.

Goldenshluger, A., Constantini, K., Goldstein, N., Shelef, I., Schwarzfuchs, D., Zelicha, H., Yaskolka Meir, A., Tsaban, G., Chassidim, Y. and Gepner, Y., 2021. Effect of Dietary Strategies on Respiratory Quotient and Its Association with Clinical Parameters and Organ Fat Loss: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 13(7), p.2230.

Lam, Y.Y. and Ravussin, E., 2017. Indirect calorimetry: an indispensable tool to understand and predict obesity. European journal of clinical nutrition, 71(3), pp.318-322.

Zhu, S., Surampudi, P., Rosharavan, B. and Chondronikola, M., 2020. Intermittent fasting as a nutrition approach against obesity and metabolic disease. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 23(6), p.387.


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