Intermittent fasting: An age-old tradition shines in modern health trends

- March 11, 2024
| By : Stuti Nanda |

Across religions, intermittent fasting has been a steadfast practice, offering nourishment through time

Representational photo: Unsplash

Intermittent fasting, a practice of abstaining from all food and beverages for an extended period, albeit with exceptions, has long been recognised for its health and psychological benefits. This tradition spans across millennia, with its roots found in various cultures and religions.

As individuals worldwide embrace a health-conscious lifestyle and prioritise sustainable eating habits, the global weight management market witnesses significant expansion. According to a survey by Real Research, a staggering 80.1% of the population is now familiar with the term intermittent fasting, indicating its widespread adoption.

Commenting on this burgeoning trend, Dietician Nandini Chopra highlighted the post-Covid-19 shift towards heightened lifestyle awareness. “Mindful eating and a focus on physical fitness for everyday functionality have become prevalent,” she noted.

Nandini advocates for the “3S approach” – Small, Spaced, and Seventy-Five – emphasising the consumption of modest, well-timed meals, ensuring individuals eat until they reach 75% fullness. “This strategy curbs excess calorie intake, promotes meal planning, and regulates insulin levels, minimising spikes,” she explained.

Intermittent fasting, primarily categorised into Time-restricted eating and Occasional extended Fasting, emerges as a dominant practice in this health-conscious movement.

Time-Restricted Eating: This method of intermittent fasting involves daily fasting for a significant portion of the day. An example is the ’16:8′ method, where individuals restrict eating to an 8-hour window, followed by a 16-hour fasting period. Scientifically recognised as ‘time-restricted eating,’ this practice has demonstrated efficacy in promoting fat reduction, enhancing aerobic capacity, and lowering the risk of diabetes.

Occasional Extended Fasting: The second form of intermittent fasting entails abstaining from all foods periodically for a complete 24-hour period or longer, commonly known as ‘Fasting.’ This approach boasts a multitude of benefits, including protective effects on heart function, potential reduction in Alzheimer’s risk, potential lifespan extension, blood sugar regulation, and improvement in sleep patterns. Moreover, it proves particularly effective in managing diabetes by reducing body weight and fasting glucose levels. According to Vitality Pro, a notable 41.8% of participants reported feeling less hungry after adopting this fasting regimen.

Despite the emergence of new dietary trends, intermittent fasting remains a widely searched topic. While “keto diet” took the top spot in Google searches in 2020-21, “intermittent fasting” continues to hold its ground as one of the most sought-after dietary terms, showcasing its enduring popularity.