What is fasting?
Put simply, fasting is going for extended periods of time without eating any food and only consuming water.
Recent human studies have found that fasting may result in a number of health benefits, including weight loss, blood sugar control, and improved cognition. However, it’s important to note that all of these studies have been small scale and short-term, so more robust evidence is needed to draw firm conclusions about the health benefits of fasting.
The theory is that by switching from 'standby mode' (as our body is between meals), to completely 'off' for an extended period of time, we allow our body's insulin levels to drop, encouraging our body to burn more fat and utilise existing energy stores.
There are multiple different approaches to fasting, some of which are more extreme compared to others:
1. Alternate daily fasting (ADF). No energy intake every other day. The length of the fast can vary depending on meal timings on the feeding days. You might consume dinner at 8pm on Monday, and breakfast at 8am on Wednesday, effectively completing a 36-hour fast.
2. Time-restricted eating/feeding (TRE/TRF). A daily regimen of fasting where you consume your energy intake within a given time period, this includes:
- 13 hour fast : 11 eating window (circadian)
- 14 hour fast : 10 hour eating window
- 16 hour fast : 8 hour eating window
- 18 hour fast : 6 hour eating window
- 20 hour fast : 4 hour eating window
- 22 hour fast : 2 hour eating window
3. Extended fasting (>24 hours). A regimen of 1 day to 5 days or more. These will typically follow a specific regimen, rather than being completed sporadically, for example:
- 24 hours of fasting 1 day a week
- 48 hours of fasting every 2 weeks
- 72 hours of fasting every 4 weeks
- 5 days of fasting every 3 months
Can I do fasting while on Second Nature?
While fasting can be done alongside the Second Nature programme, we'd encourage you to think carefully about whether this is a sustainable approach for you.
It can be tempting to try new strategies to lose weight quickly, but research has consistently shown that rapid weight loss often isnʼt sustainable in the long run, and we regain all the weight (plus some) that we lost in the first place.
At Second Nature, we're big believers in only adopting healthy behaviours that you can continue in the long term.
As we mentioned above, some approaches to fasting are more realistic and practical to implement compared to others. For example, versions of time-restricted eating may fit more easily into your daily routine compared to others like extended fasting. This could involve limiting your daily eating window to between 8 - 11 hours, and extending your overnight fast to between 13 - 16 hours.
However, it's important to remember that fasting is definitely not a requirement in order to achieve optimal health and lose weight. The same outcomes can be achieved by following the Second Nature guidelines.
In order to optimise our health and lose weight, we also need to be taking a holistic approach, which means focusing on all areas of our lifestyle, not just what or when we're eating. This is why our programme also addresses areas like mindset, sleep, stress, and exercise.
Before deciding to try fasting, we'd strongly encourage you to consider whether this is a realistic and sustainable approach for you to continue in the long run.