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Why the fuss about intermittent fasting?

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Pauline Muindi | May 5th 2019

Losing weight is hard. You will drown yourself in unpalatable green smoothies, turn orange from nibbling on carrot sticks, give up all carbs in order to live like a Neanderthal, and almost kill yourself in the gym only to lose a measly 5 kilograms. Even worse, sometimes the weight piles back on quickly as soon as you stop exercising or dieting.

Enter the fitness trend is...intermittent fasting!

IF works quite simply: strategically skipping meals helping reduce overall food intake, which encourages the body to burn fat for fuel. Unlike traditional diets, studies have found that fasting doesn’t deplete muscle mass - something which has made fasting popular with fitness buffs.

Fasting is not a new phenomenon. According to Mark Sissons, author of the lifestyle and diet book “The Primal Blueprint”, intermittent fasting is aligned with natural hunter-gatherer behaviour and simulates a period when food supplies were periodically scarce.

Any more effective?

While adherents of intermittent fasting will tell you it helped them lose and keep off weight more easily than any other solution, the latest research claims that it’s no more effective than old-fashioned calorie restricting diets. In the German study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers observed 150 overweight and obese non-smoking patients for a year. Some were directed to cut their calorie intake by 20 per cent while others followed the 5/2 method of fasting. They found that both groups had lost similar amounts of weight and body fat.

Perhaps, what the research didn’t consider was the fact that most people are unable to calorie-restricting diets for a long time, whereas intermittent fasting is more manageable. Fans of intermittent fasting report less hunger and cravings. Also, I.F. requires no special preparation, calorie-counting, or special foods- which makes it a great choice for anyone who wants a simple weight loss approach.

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