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FASTING is by no means a foreign concept, as we have seen it practised by Christian folks all our lives.
However, fasting is no longer only a religious practice. For health-conscious, nutritionist Janique Watts, it is a way of losing weight and improving overall health and wellness.
“Intermittent fasting or dieting is an eating pattern which entails 16- or 24-hour periods of fasting, twice per week. There are no restrictions on the types of food eaten, just the timed periods of eating,” Watts explained.
She said that with this intermittent fasting, which many preliminary studies suggest might significantly improve or reduce the risk of diabetes as well as heart diseases and cancer, stored fat is used as the alternative energy source during fasting, resulting in weight loss.
Think this type of dieting might be right for you? Watts shared a list of do's and don'ts in order to safely get through this fast.
What to do
1. Talk to your doctor before you start the plan. He/she will let you know if this dieting method is okay for you.
2. Ensure that you are committed to the process, because one of the major tenets on which this diet is formed is discipline.
“The common criticism of this type of eating pattern is that it requires a lot of discipline due to the long duration of no eating. Therefore, I would recommend that persons mentally prepare themselves to be disciplined,” Watts advised.
3. Start with a smaller fasting time window and then slowly increase it.
“If possible, try to gradually work into the maximum hours of fasting, for example, start with half day fasts,” Watts recommended.
4. Choose the Mediterranean diet for best results.
“The Harvard researcher, Dr [Monique] Tello recommends the Mediterranean diet as the preferred diet, as this includes more plant-based foods, healthy fats, using herbs as opposed to powdered, salty seasonings, and limiting red meat,” Watts said.
5. When you are going on a fast, it is important that you drink plenty of water. When your body is hydrated it will still work optimally during your fast, as well as help to burn calories.
What not to do
1. If you have chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, are pregnant, nursing or have a history of eating disorders, then you should not consider the intermittent diet.
“Persons who are diabetic and insulin-dependent are not advised to try this method of eating due to their need to have certain levels of glucose present in the body from their diet,” Watts advised.
She explained that fasting can cause them to become hypoglycaemic, which can lead to very serious complications, possibly even fatal if prolonged.
2. Do not ignore the signs your body gives. During your fast, if you realise that you are experiencing heart palpitations, dizziness and weakness, for example, along with feeling like you are unable to function, in general, don't force your body through it. You should stop.
3. It's natural to want to do as much as possible to lose weight and to get your body toned, simultaneously. But it's a bad idea to combine high-intensity exercise with fasting. You can still exercise, but you want to consider lighter exercises that are easier on the body, such as walking and jogging for short distances.
4. After you have achieved the health and weight loss goals that you set out to, do not go back to unhealthy eating habits, especially if they included greasy, fatty junk food.
Instead, you should consider moving toward healthier diet options; otherwise, you would have defeated the whole purpose of the fast.
5. Many of us are guilty of it: The moment we are set to start a diet we tend to have a feast because we want to give our bodies a “filling”. However, instead of mega-sizing your fast-food order and topping it off with pastries, you want to fuel your bodies with nutrient-dense foods, such as carbohydrates, lean proteins and fruits. These slow-burning nutrients will fuel your bodies through the fasting period.