Bloated, full, sluggish: Is fasting the answer to festive feasting? – Sydney Morning Herald


Posted: December 27, 2020 at 8:56 am

If you want to try intermittent fasting to avoid weight gain, an approach where you cut food intake down to 2100 to 2500 kilojoules on a couple of days a week could help balance out a few parties, suggests Associate Professor Leonie Heilbronn of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

Her research into the short-term effects of intermittent fasting has found that it produces slightly greater weight loss and better improvements in heart health and diabetes compared to the usual approach of continuously restricting kilojoules.

As for concerns that slashing kilojoules on fasting days could encourage overeating on non-fasting days, thats not been her experience.

We humans are well adapted to fasting and we havent seen overeating in our research although we have excluded people with disordered eating from the studies.

What about the 16:8 approach where you restrict eating to a window of eight hours in each 24-hour period 10am to 6pm or 12 noon to 8pm, for example and fast for the remaining 16 hours?

Although Leonie Heilbronn thinks this might have more potential for overeating (you can still eat a lot between 10am and 6pm, she says), Parker thinks its flexibility might be more effective for festive eating.

This is a special time of the year and a big lunch on one or two days wont damage your overall health and theres no reason to feel guilty.

You can time your eating window for the middle of the day or for the evening, depending on the event. But if youre using the 5:2 approach, where you restrict food intake to 2100 to 2500 kilojoules on two days a week, you might miss out if your fasting day coincides with a special lunch or dinner.

But my concern is that intermittent fasting doesnt show people how to moderate their food intake, she adds. I also think there are better, more sustainable ways to maintain weight at this time of the year you may have days where you overindulge, but its unlikely to be every day. Be conscious of making smarter food choices on days when youre not celebrating with friends or family, stay hydrated and keep moving.

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Apart from those with a history of disordered eating, who else should avoid fasting?

Anyone on medication that needs taking with food; teenagers; women who are pregnant or breastfeeding; people with diabetes and anyone whos doing a lot of exercise. If youre doing sessions of strength training or going for a run, you still need to consume something rich in protein and carbohydrates within 45 minutes to an hour of finishing exercise [to replenish energy stores].

But whichever way you opt to keep weight off over the holiday period, remember theres nothing inherently unhealthy about occasional overeating, Parker stresses.

This is a special time of the year and a big lunch on one or two days wont damage your overall health and theres no reason to feel guilty.

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Bloated, full, sluggish: Is fasting the answer to festive feasting? - Sydney Morning Herald

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