Intermittent fasting: Dietician and weight loss expert opines on its surprising benefits and more

Fasting is observed by various people as a way to lose weight and take advantage of several health benefits. Here are some surprising health benefits that intermittent fasting can have on your body with expert inputs from dietician and weight loss expert, Palki Chopra.
intermittent fasting Intermittent fasting: Dietician and weight loss expert opines on its surprising benefits and more
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Fasting has been practised for thousands of years and is a staple across many religions and cultures. Although there can be a lot of reasons why people fast, the most important one has to do with the several health benefits, including, losing extra kilos, flushing out toxins, accelerating purification of blood, cleansing the kidneys, liver, colon and thus, keeping the digestive system healthy.

According to Palki Chopra, a dietician and weight loss expert, intermittent fasting is an eating style where one can cycle between eating and fasting in pre-defined breaks. There are several methods that split the day into fasting and eating, but the ultimate objective is to determine ‘when’ to eat, rather than ‘what’ to eat. Research shows that starving for 10-12 hours or more can cause the body to burn its fat into energy that releases ketones into the bloodstream which encourages weight loss.

The best schedule involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours and eating in a window of  8-10 hours. It is suggested that one should begin with 12 continuous fasting hours each day, followed by adding a fasting hour every week until you reach 16 hours. Within the eating window, one can have three or more meals. When paired with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, one can get numerous health benefits from following intermittent fasting.

A balanced meal pattern must include fresh fruits and vegetables, sources of protein, healthy fats, whole grain cereals. Largely, the goal is to stay away from processed food items and foods that contain preservatives.

Having a bigger meal in the morning or during the day is recommended rather than at night. This is because while sleeping, the human body is in the least motion and thus, the digestive system needs to make more effort than required to digest the meal you had just before sleeping. 

Keeping a check on your water intake is equally important during fasting in order to avoid dehydration. Water contains no calories at all and keeps you hydrated during the fast. Scientifically, the human body requires 1 litre of water for every 20kg of weight. It is simple math that can answer how much water you should be drinking in a day. Nevertheless, it should never be less than 1.5-2 litres per day.

Other health benefits of intermittent fasting include improving blood sugar levels, boosting brain functioning and metabolic rate, lowering cholesterol and enhancing longevity. 

Like all good things, intermittent fasting may not be for everyone. One must practice it with nutritional guidance or with a doctor’s advice, especially for those who have other underlying conditions such as diabetes, thyroid, etc. It is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women to go ahead with this approach as changing eating patterns may cause nutritional deficiency for both mother and baby.

Everything has pros and cons. There can’t be a universal approach to weight loss and staying healthy. One must explore all healthy options before finalizing which approach suits them the best, and then make a lifestyle out of it. Health is the greatest wealth, and your body is only as healthy as you make it.

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