Discover the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting: A Sustainable Approach to Weight Loss

Advice From A Dietician

Daniel Murphy // Dietitian // Nov 23

Intermittent Fasting- Plate with tomato and veg in the shape of a fasting timer

Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss

In a world teeming with trendy diets, intermittent fasting has carved out a significant niche, hailed by many as a groundbreaking approach to weight loss and wellness. However, like any dietary trend, it’s crucial to approach intermittent fasting with a healthy dose of skepticism. Praised for its supposed ability to promote fat-burning and overall well-being. This method focuses on timing of meals rather than specific dietary restrictions.

While intermittent fasting can be beneficial for weight loss, it has both pros and cons that I see as a dietitian on a weekly basis. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution and tends not to work for individuals with a busy work life. The practice involves extending the intervals between eating, leading the body to burn fat for energy. But this approach can vary greatly in effectiveness from person to person. Overall, it creates a calorie deficit.

Moreover, intermittent fasting is often linked to a range of health benefits, from improved insulin sensitivity to decreased inflammation. However, nutritionists and dietitians, often emphasise the importance of considering individual dietary needs and health conditions before adopting such practices. Read my tips below before considering if this is for you.

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What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting, refers to an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Unlike traditional diets focused on what to eat, intermittent fasting centers on when to eat. This approach, often highlighted by nutrition experts and wellness bloggers, has garnered significant attention for its potential health benefits and simplicity.

-16/8 Method

One common method of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method, which involves restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, followed by a 16-hour fasting period. For example, you might eat your meals between 12 pm and 8 pm, then fast from 8 pm until 12 pm the next day. This method is particularly popular due to its feasibility and flexibility.

-Time Restricted Eating

Another approach is time-restricted eating. I’m personally a bigger fan of this style as it’s not as restrictive. It also offers more flexibility for those who have busy lifestyles. Time Restricted Eating is all about setting a specific window for consuming all your day’s calories. This could be an eating window of 10 hours with a 14-hour fast, or even could be a 12 hour eating window, it’s a flexible approach. 10 hours of eating might sound like a lot but it often stops late night snacking which is beneficial for weight loss.

As with any dietary change, it’s important to focus on which eating pattern you enjoy and can sustain over a long period of time.

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Benefits of intermittent fasting for Weight Loss

One of the key benefits of intermittent fasting is its ability to promote weight loss. Limiting the time you can eat throughout the day limits calories which creates a calorie deficit. This approach can lead to a decrease in body fat while not having to track intake.

Beyond weight management, intermittent fasting has shown promise in enhancing metabolic health. It can improve insulin sensitivity, which is crucial in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. This however can also be achieved with regular exercise and a balanced diet also.

When you eat, the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is used as the primary source of energy. Any excess glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. However, when you fast, your body depletes its glycogen stores and begins burning stored fat for fuel. This fat-burning state is known as ketosis, and it is where the magic of intermittent fasting happens.

Fasting can be a beneficial approach to weight loss. However, I find it doesn’t work well for individuals who work long hours, or shift work. Intake is already restricted when in these roles and fasting on top of this leaves you extremely limited with food intake.

Limitations of Fasting

Continuing from my quote, fasting tends to not work well for those working long hours. Let’s give an example. If working 12 hour shifts, you get two maybe three breaks. If fasting for 8 hours starting at 11am and ending at 7pm, food can only be eating at two points of the day. Two meals a day is super restrictive. Overtime it leads to energy lows, stalls in weight loss and massive sugar cravings. I also advise against it for athletes in performance. 

Closing the Window Further

There is always a push to restrict the window even more eg lowering 8 hours of eating to 6 hours. This again is not advised as it can again lead to sugar cravings and a poor relationship with food. 

Fasting tends to work best for individuals working from home where routine is a little more flexible or if working 9 to 5 jobs. It just leaves more room to have more food which great for weight loss sustainability. 

Nutritionist working out calories on calorie calculator

Tips for Successful Intermittent Fasting

If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, it’s important to start slowly. If unsure of where to start Time Restricted Eating starting at a 12 hour eating window can be beneficial. As I mentioned previously, I’d rarely suggest going below 8 hours of eating. Experiment with these two methods and see which suits your lifestyle best. 

It’s also important to listen to your body and adjust your fasting schedule as needed. If you feel weak or dizzy during fasting periods, it’s a sign that you may need to eat more throughout the day. Never jeopardise your health when looking to achieve a weight loss target. 

Common misconceptions about intermittent fasting
1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain hydration and support your body during fasting periods.
2. Eat a balanced diet: When you do eat, focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods that provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
3. Be mindful of portion sizes: Even though intermittent fasting does not restrict what you eat, it's still important to practice portion control and listen to your body's hunger cues.
4. Stay active: Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, as exercise can complement the benefits of intermittent fasting and support weight loss.
5. Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to support your overall health and well-being.

Working with a Nutritionist in Cork: What to Expect

Working with a nutritionist in Cork, offers unique advantages. We chat to individuals around fasting and see if it’s the correct. route to take for their lifestyle. This professional guidance can be especially beneficial when compared to self-guided dieting plus adds accountability. 

A key benefit of consulting a Cork-based nutritionist for intermittent fasting is the development of a personalised diet plan. Nutritionists consider individual health profiles, dietary preferences, and lifestyle factors, ensuring that the fasting schedule and eating plan are tailored to meet personal needs and goals. This personalised approach can significantly increase the effectiveness and sustainability of the diet.

Nutritionist making salad as part of a healthy diet.

Success Stories from Apex Nutrition

Meet Sarah, a 35-year-old marketing executive from Cork City, whose weight loss journey is both inspiring and enlightening. Sarah had struggled with weight management for years. She decided to try intermittent fasting after hearing about its benefits. Initially, Sarah set herself an aggressive 16/8 fasting schedule, believing that more restriction would lead to quicker results. However, this approach soon backfired.

Sarah’s Intermittent Fasting Story

The restrictive nature of my fasting led to intense sugar cravings, and I often overindulged as soon as my eating window opened. It felt like I was stuck in a cycle of restriction and overeating, moving further away from my goals. That’s when I decided to reach out to Apex Nutrition in Cork City. It was a decision that would change my entire approach to weight loss and health.

The team at Apex Nutrition listened to my struggles and immediately suggested adjusting my fasting schedule. Instead of the rigid 16/8 approach, they recommended a more flexible 12/12 schedule to start with. This adjustment seemed minor, but it made a huge difference. It reduced my hunger and cravings significantly, making the fasting periods much more manageable.

But that wasn’t all. The nutritionists at Apex also helped me understand the importance of what I ate during my eating windows. They guided me towards more balanced, nutrient-rich meals, which helped curb my sugar cravings and provided sustained energy throughout the day. This holistic approach to diet and fasting was something I had never considered before.

Over the course of 12 weeks with Apex Nutrition’s guidance, I saw remarkable changes. Not only did my relationship with food improve, but I also experienced a significant weight loss – a total of 8.5 kilograms. It was an achievement that seemed unattainable just a few months earlier.

The journey wasn’t just about losing weight; it was about learning to respect my body’s needs and understanding that sustainable health practices are far more effective than any extreme diet. The support and education I received from Apex Nutrition have been invaluable. They helped me transform my lifestyle in a way that’s manageable and enjoyable.

I’m more confident, healthier, and happier now, and I can’t thank the team at Apex Nutrition enough for their support and expertise. They’ve shown me that with the right approach and guidance, achieving your health goals is definitely within reach”.

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