Is it time for an autumn overhaul? With so many fasting regimes to choose from, deciding on one that works for you and your lifestyle is a priority …
Supermodel Naomi Campbell, 51, recently shared a series of snaps on Instagram showing off her incredibly fit figure in a low-cut yellow swimsuit, crediting her revamped approach to health and wellness to Viva Mayr, a luxury medical health resort and holistic wellness retreat in Austria also favoured by Rebel Wilson, Liz Hurley and Karlie Kloss. Campbell describes its stringent 600 calories per day regime as a “reset” which helped kickstart her metabolism. “Health is wealth,” Campbell gushed.
If celebrities are driving the trend for intermittent fasting (popularised by Dr Michael Mosley in 2012 with his 5:2 diet), their nutritionists are also rewriting the weight loss rule books. Nutritionist Gabriela Peacock, who counts models Yasmin Le Bon and Eva Herzigova as clients, advocates a healthy take on the champagne lifestyle. Her recent book 2 Weeks to Feeling Great balances three days of fasting and three of healthy eating with one day of eating and drinking “what the hell” you like. That’s the sort of short-term fix that will work for many.
Fiona Gratzer, CEO of Unislim Ireland, says she is a fan of flexible fasting, especially the 14:10: (the numbers relate to the number of hours fasting versus the eating “window”). “By enjoying your last meal at 6pm in the evening and not eating again until 8am you give your body a 14-hour fast during the night, while you’re sleeping. When you wake up, you have a healthy breakfast and continue to eat a healthy lunch and dinner,” she explains. “I follow a flexi-fast plan once or twice per week, usually on Monday and Wednesday. It keeps me in shape, gives me energy and controls my late-night nibbles.” The Unislim approach to flexi-fasting is especially motivating for people who may have hit a plateau. “It’s really about a holistic approach to your health. Be good to yourself and reset your body with an occasional fast and you’ll feel fantastic the next day. If you’re doing the more stringent 16:8 version, it’s important to keep that eight-hour window as healthy as possible.”
Supervised fasting declutters your mind and allows clarity.
Irish Pilates instructor Eva Berg of The Secret Pilates is a self-described “avid faster”. “I first began fasting when I was 22 and preparing for my wedding. I do not see fasting as a method for weight loss, but as an effective health plan which should be incorporated into your life to regulate wellbeing,” she says. Berg tries to stop eating at 7.30pm each evening and does not eat again until 12.30pm. She also does “apple only” days once a month. “There are so many cowboys doing fast juice detoxes who are not medically trained; when you are fasting it is madness to drink litres of acidic fructose juices on an empty stomach. My advice is always to go to the professionals.” Berg believes fasting should be carefully supervised and recommends the Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic in Marbella. “I have sent many clients to the clinic over the last 20 years. It really reboots the system, something I feel is incredibly beneficial if you are menopausal. Supervised fasting allows you to see everything from a clearer and different perspective. I believe it declutters your mind and allows clarity where there might be confusion and a sense of being overwhelmed.”
Who better to ask about the different types of fasting and their physical side effects than The Gut Experts: Professor of Gastroenterology, Barbara Ryan and Clinical Dietitian, Elaine McGowan, who between them have cared for more than 60,000 patients in Ireland. “There are a number of different intermittent fasting regimes and most commonly we see patients who follow either a modified fasting regimen such as the popular 5:2 diet or time-restricted feeding (TRF) such as the 16:8 diet or the 20:4 diet, which avoids eating late at night. We rarely encounter people who follow a strict alternate day protocol.”
Ryan and McGowan acknowledge intermittent fasting has many health benefits such as improved sleep, increased energy levels and better metabolic flexibility. It can also reduce acid reflux symptoms and heartburn, in addition to reversing fat deposits in the liver. (A fatty liver is overtaking alcohol as a cause of chronic liver damage). As for that rumbling tummy, a common side effect of any diet, The Gut Experts say this is a good sign, helping to maintain a healthy population of gut bacteria. On the downside, intermittent fasting can lead to constipation, bad breath, bloating and nausea/indigestion. Would they recommend intermittent fasting? “The degree of weight loss achieved is generally very similar to a calorie-restricted diet; we do not generally recommend strict intermittent fasting as a first line for weight loss. However there are elements of intermittent fasting that are beneficial to all of us, such as avoiding eating late at night. Intermittent fasting is not right for everyone – one size does not fit all. That said, those with high-calorie intakes to start with seem to see the best results.”
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