Holiday meals are all about carbs, sugar, and, let’s face it, indulgence. And we’re all here for it. But say you want to reset your body and diet following a day of blood sugar-rising foods … would you give intermittent fasting a go? Or better yet, should you?
We checked in with nutritionists to find out. They weighed in on exactly when you should—and shouldn’t—give it a try and how it can really affect your body.
How to know intermittent fasting is a good fit for you.
“It’s not meant for anyone with an eating disorder, anyone who takes insulin, and anyone who is on multiple prescription medications must speak with their doctor before trying intermittent fasting,” says Robin Foroutan, MS, RDN, HHC, and integrative dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
But if you pass those tests, then it might be a good consideration (even Amodrn’s Bianca Cheah is a fan!). “Otherwise, intermittent fasting appears to be safe and can be really effective at improving certain aspects of health, like blood sugar balance, energy levels, and digestion,” she adds. “Plus, it may be able to improve markers of cardiovascular health, reduce atherosclerosis, improve insulin sensitivity, improve cognitive function and may also offer anti-ageing benefits because intermittent fasting may help improve mitochondrial function.”
It will change your schedule.
Intermittent fasting means you’ll likely be fasting for 16- or 24-hour periods at a time, so during a busy holiday season, you might want to plan your calendar accordingly.
“It is a challenging lifestyle to commit to in some cases, because you’d have to eat dinner relatively early and then be done eating for the day around 7pm or so, which can interfere with social activities,” Foroutan says. “It would be fine to begin intermittent fasting the day after Christmas, but depending on what you ate, it may be difficult that first day. For example, if you indulged in sweets, cakes, desserts the night before, you may wake up pretty hungry and have a hard time fasting until the late morning,” she adds. “Either way, eating lightly the day after Christmas is a good idea for many of us!”
Eat, but eat mindfully.
“Since you’re only eating for about 8 hours each day, say from 11 am to 7 pm, it’s tempting to think you can eat whatever you want during that time, but that’s not the case,” she adds. “The main thing to remember is blood sugar balance, so you’d still want to eat healthily — lots of vegetables, high-quality protein, nuts and seeds, some fruit and some whole grains or legumes for the average person. Some people prefer to do intermittent fasting while also following a paleo-type diet. There are many ways to try it out successfully.”
That means making the most of those eight or so hours when you can eat. It means loading up on proteins, fibre-filled vegetables, and healthy fats. If you’re ready to give it a shot, find out why one nutritionist swears by intermittent fasting to learn how to do it properly.