Fasting diets have received a lot of attention of late, however it’s important for you to be prepared before trying one.
A number of different fasting diets are available. In general, they involve eating normally some days and a very low intake or even no food on other days. For example, with the 5:2 eating plan (promoted by British TV presenter, Dr Michael Mosley), on five eating days you eat whatever you want and on two fasting days women’s total food intake is 2,100 kilojoules and men 2,500 kilojoules.
Fasting diets claim they achieve weight loss and also other benefits including prevention of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease and some cancers, and increased lifespan.
Different mechanisms are involved, for instance, fasting diets are supposed to lower levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1, which is associated with cancer.
But it is still too early to confirm that there are benefits. Most of the research has been on animals and only a small amount of short term research on humans. Only after more long term research has been done on humans, will it be known if fasting diets really do help.
Important steps beforehand
In the meanwhile, if you’re considering a fasting diet, it’s recommended beforehand to:
- Talk to your doctor about the impact of reduced food intake, especially if any of the following are relevant to you:
- Children and teenagers
- Eating disorders
- Recovering from surgery
- Know the potential pros and cons. Pros may include re-learning the feeling of hunger. Cons may include gorging yourself during non-fasting days.
- Prepare yourself for possible side-effects including irritability, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, dehydration, tiredness, dizziness and constipation.
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