Intermittent fasting –  to fast or not to fast?

Intermittent fasting has grown in popularity in recent years. Many people, including celebrities are using it to lose weight and improve their health however, does intermittent fasting work and is it right for you? Below we explain what intermittent fasting is and some of the known benefits…….

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating regime that cycles between a period of fasting and a period of eating. Typical methods are 16/8 – where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour period, for example between 12pm and 8pm. Alternatively, the 5:2 method, suggests consuming only 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days and eating normally for the other 5 days of the week.

The Eat Stop Eat method involves doing a 24 hour fast once or twice per week and eating normally for the rest of the week. So, for example, if you have dinner on Monday evening at 6pm and then do not eat anything until Tuesday evening at 6pm, you have completed a 24 hour fast. You may drink water and other zero calorie beverages during the fasting periods.

By using one of these methods, you will reduce the number of calories you eat in a day and weight loss should follow, as long as you don’t over eat during the eating period. Studies have shown the most common and successful method is the 16/8 method. Scroll down for 5 day diet plan using this method.

What are some of the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Weight loss and a reduction in belly fat

According to research, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat.1

A review of scientific data in 2014 showed that intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of between 3-8% over 3-24 weeks. In addition, people also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference which indicates a reduction in belly fat.1  which is great news for slimmers!


Can reduce insulin resistance

Type 2 diabetes is on the increase and is diagnosed by an increased amount of glucose in the blood.

Human trials on intermittent fasting showed a reduction of fasting blood sugar by 3-6%.1


Can reduce oxidative stress & inflammation

Oxidative stress is bad news for the body this can lead to cell and tissue damage and is involved in many chronic health conditions.2

Fortunately, several studies have shown that intermittent fasting may support the body to guard against inflammation and oxidative stress.3,4

 May support heart health

Research suggests that intermittent fasting may reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol, blood triglycerides, blood sugar and insulin resistance – which are all factors linked to heart disease.5

 May prevent cancer

Results of animal studies show that intermittent fasting may be a tool to prevent cancer.6


A word of caution

Intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals with type 2 diabetes can fast, however they should do so only under medical supervision. Individuals taking medication should discuss with their GP whether intermittent fasting is right for them, due to the need for some medication to be taken with food. Fasting is not recommended for adolescents who are still growing and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not fast.

Additionally, fasting is not suitable for anyone with an eating disorder or who have a history of an eating disorder.

To finish

Intermittent fasting can be a great tool to aid weight loss and with the added benefits as highlighted above therefore for those who can fast it is worth a try. For those individuals who cannot fast, there are other strategies that can help. if you want more information about this chat to our specialist weight loss Dr or nutritionist for guidance.


  1. Barnosky, A,.R. and Varaday, K.A. (2014) ‘Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings’ Translational Research, 164(4), pp.302-311
  2. Johnson, J. et al. (2007) ‘Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma’, Free Radical Biology & Medical Journal, 42(5), pp.665-674 doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.12.005.
  3. Aksungar, F.B., Topkaya, A.E. and Akyildiz, M. (2007) ‘Interleukin-6, C-reactive protein and biochemical parameters during prolonged intermittent fasting’, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 51, pp.88-95. doi:;000100954.
  4. Al-Islam, M. et al. (2011) ‘Intermitttent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects’, Nutrition Research, 32(12), pp. 947-955. doi: https://doi,.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2012.06.021.
  5. Varady, K.A. et al. (2009) ‘Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(5), pp. 1138-1143, doi:
  6. Lee, C,. et al. (2012) ‘Fasting Cycles Retard Growth of Tumor and Sensitize a Range of Cancer Cell Types to Chemotherapy’, Science Translational Medicine, 4(124), pp. 124ra27, doi: 10.1126/scitransimed.3003293.

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