MULINGE: How to lose weight through intermittent fasting
By Eunice Mulinge
Is there a ‘best’ way to cut weight? This is perhaps one of the most common questions anyone planning to embark on a weight loss journey will ponder.
Whether it’s a quick search on the internet or inquiry from someone who has tried losing weight, you will end up with varying recommendations.
However, an analysis of hundreds of weight loss studies shows that losing a couple of kilos generally depends 80 percent on your diet and 20 percent exercise.
In the recent past, numerous diet fads have been brought to our attention and in 2018–2019 intermittent fasting (IF), has been on the rise.
Let’s talk about IF. Unlike other diets that dictate on WHAT to eat, IF focuses on WHEN to eat.
There are several ways on how to follow the IF diet and I will mention a few.
16:8 which gives you an 8 hour eating period daily, 5:2 where you fast two days in a week and consume 500-600 calories on the 2 days, OMAD which basically means one meal a day and lastly prolonged fast which means fasting for more than 24 hours.
As a certified nutritionist, I would vouch for 16:8, which will comfortably allow you to consume your daily kcals in 8 hours.
For instance if you’re doing 16:8 intermittent fasting, you could have breakfast at 10am and dinner at 6pm.
During the fasting hours, one can take liquids with close to zero calories mostly water, black coffee or tea without any sweetener.
Note that, every single nutrient is very important for proper body functioning. And that’s why there is need for properly-calculated meal plans including a variety of food groups.
IF has benefits including promoting weight loss, blood sugar regulation, reduction in blood pressure among others.
However, everything comes with it’s pros and cons. When you fast for long, your body goes into starvation mode and this can have various effects in your body such as:
1. Your daily nutrient needs are not met which leads to nutritional deficiencies.
2. With time, your body metabolism is slowed down and muscle is broken down to release glucose hence muscle loss. With a slow metabolism that means fewer calories are burnt per day.
3. Electrolyte imbalances a good example being hypokalaemia.
4. Low blood pressure and slower heart rates are experienced.
6. Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
7. Hypothalamic amenorrhoea, which refers to missed menses. (IF may disrupt hormones.)
8. Hair loss and brittle fingernails.
9. Lack of proper concentration and irritability due to low sugars.
10. Gallstones are also common in prolonged fasts.
11. Brittle bones and lowered immunity maybe experienced too.
12. Cancer relapse has also been shown as another side effect. Autophagy promotes multiplication and growth of all cells including cancer cells so consult your doctor’s before deciding to try IF.
In view of the aforementioned risks, I would strongly advise you not to consider the prolonged IF journey for quick weight loss. The risk is not worth it.
Instead, I would recommend that you look for a sustainable and long-term lifestyle change.
That weight was not gained overnight and therefore cannot be lost overnight.
There is no shortcut to weight loss but portion control, eating whole foods, adding lots of fibre to your diet, consuming meals consisting a variety of food groups, exercises and taking lots of water is the right way to weight loss.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clearly states that “weight loss isn’t about a “diet” or program. It’s about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits.”
Remember losing weight is not a miracle, the miracle is in keeping it off.
The writer is a KNDI certified nutritionist
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