The idea of fasting has been around for centuries. Whether you are cautious of what you eat by counting your daily calories or you practice alternate-day fasting, either approach can be effective if you want to shed some kilos, a new obesity study suggests.
What is Alternate-Day Fasting?
Alternate-day fasting requires you to alternate between eating small portions of food on one day and then feasting the next day. This trend is catching up in India. Food lovers who hate the concept of a conventional diet — eating fewer calories every day and then exercising to “earn” more – will approve of the idea of eating small portions on some days and more on other days. But, does this diet regime work?
Can Alternate-Day Fasting Help Lose Weight?
A study [Ref] suggests that intermittent fasting may help people lose weight, however, it may not be the safest diet regime. When you fast, your body is forced to dip into energy stores to get the fuel it needs to keep going, so you will definitely lose weight. This study [Ref] found that the “automatic calorie restriction” benefits still held true with a modified one-day fast. On their fast day, the participants got 25% of their calorie requirements. The next day, they ate a bit more, but not enough to make up for the huge deficit that they created on a fast day. Whereas another study [Ref] found that just one modified fast day per week (330-430 calories on the “fast” day) made weight maintenance easier.
Is It Worth a Try?
Yes, if you want to lose weight. You can also try this diet regime if you are okay with the idea of going a whole day with no food or very little food. But if you are doing an intense workout on most days, avoid this diet regime.
Other Benefits of Alternate Day Fasting
Besides helping you to lose some weight, intermittent fasting has other benefits like:
Reverse symptoms of type 2 diabetes: Losing weight and restricting your calorie intake can go a long way in reversing many symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Among pre-diabetic persons, 8 to 12 weeks of alternate-day fasting has shown a drop in insulin levels by around 20-31%. This can significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Learn more about diet for type 2 diabetes.
Good for heart: Heart ailments are the leading cause of death worldwide. Many studies have shown that alternate-day fasting is good for the obese individuals. It’s health benefits include reduced waistline, decreased blood pressure, and decreased blood triglycerides (up to 30%).
Kills cancer cells: Research suggests that cancer patients, undergoing chemotherapy treatment, experienced a better outcome with less severe side effects while fasting. It seems like fasting causes cancer cells to eventually destroy themselves during a carefully monitored fast. With and without chemotherapy, fasting has been shown to slow the growth of breast cancer, melanoma, and certain brain cancers.
What to Eat and Drink on Fasting Days?
There is no thumb rule on what you should eat or drink during fast. You should only keep in mind that your total calorie intake does not exceed 500 calories. Hence, it is advisable to drink low-calorie or calorie-free drinks on fasting days, such as water, coffee, and tea. Many people find it best to eat one “big” meal late in the day, while some opt for early or split the amount between two and three meals. Since your calorie intake will be drastically limited, you should focus on nutritious, high-protein foods, and low-calorie vegetables. These will make you feel full without many calories. Soups are also a good option on fasting days, as they tend to make you feel fuller. Diabetics can refer to our diabetic-friendly recipes.
Alternate-day fasting is safe for most people. It will help you to avoid binge eating or raise your risk of weight gain after you stop the diet. Also, it is easy to follow.