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Intermittent fasting: Important facts to know before you choose 16 hour ‘no food’ regime!

Intermittent Fasting as a dietary regime is a growing trend and it is being followed across the globe. With more people adopting the dietary routine, it is essential first to understand the factors to be considered before altering the eating pattern. 

Who can follow the intermittent fasting regime?

According to New Delhi-based Clinical Nutritionist and Consultant at Fortis Lafemme, Dr Rashi Chahal, people who are suffering from any diseases, are diabetic or are overweight, must not involve in long hours of fasting. 

She says, if someone is looking for intermittent fasting for weight loss, it is a good thing, but the core of this regime is to train the brain to not eat food for certain hours. However, in the hours dedicated to eating, if someone keeps eating in small quantities, again and again, the whole purpose is defeated. So, discipline is the key to successfully following a dietary regime. 

Benefits are immense, but check on your doctor first

Undoubtedly, intermittent fasting has benefitted many people around the world and based on the success stories and testimonials, more people are drawn towards it. However, it takes the right person to do it. Karishma Shah is a Mumbai-based Integrative Nutritionist and Health Coach, and she shared her expertise on the subject. She says many people end up developing Hypoglycemia or blood pressure issues because they do not take into consideration various factors before kickstarting the dietary regime.

Shah says, for a healthy person, who does not have any ailments, 12-14 hours of fasting is doable, and it would benefit the body. Following the 16-hour fasting regime is like pushing the body beyond its capacities and tendencies. The body creates an urge to eat anything and everything during the eating window during the stretched fasting hours. This can further mess up the hormones of the stomach, such as Ghrelin and Leptin; that control appetite. It can also distort insulin and cortisol levels.

A combination of exercise and fasting gives the best result for weight loss

For most of the people who choose to follow the long fasting hours, their aim is to reduce weight and stay in shape. However, there is still no shortcut to physical exercise if someone is looking for weight loss. Dr Chahal says, only following an intermittent fasting regime cannot help reduce weight. However, what the regime actually does is, helps overcome the constant urge to have a bite at a snack or access food every now and then. 

The benefit of intermittent fasting

According to Epidemiological and clinical perspectives on irritable bowel syndrome in India, Bangladesh and Malaysia: A review, published in World Journal of Gastroenterology, 7.7% of the urban population and about 4.2% of the rural population in India suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Dr Chahal points out at the modern-day sedentary lifestyle and working from a desk for long hours, are the causes of IBS. However, the brain can be trained to avoid eating food again and again and avoid binging over snacks, without extremely long hours of fasting. People who are mentally and physically strong, do not require intermittent fasting that much, she says.

Fasting once a week is a healthier option

In many cultural and social customs, fasting on a particular day of the week or fortnight is followed. Karishma Shah, says, it is still a better option than following acute long hours of fasting every day. When someone has food, in the evening, but skips dinner at night, the body experiences hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar levels, during the early morning hours. Then, during lunch hours, one tends to eat too much, as we have stayed hungry for long hours. This leads to hyperglycemia, forcing the pancreas to secrete excessive insulin and further creating a hormonal imbalance. So, according to Shah, rather than putting the body through such hormonal disarray, it is advisable to follow a healthy dietary regime and if someone feels like it, they can follow fasting for one day during the week.

According to the experts, one must first consult an expert, before diving into the regime, only on basis of hearsay. Also, there are other factors that must be kept in mind. 

Do’s and Don’t’s of following Intermittent Fasting


  • Transition slowly rather than starting long hours of fasting, abruptly
  • If you do follow the regime, keep yourself hydrated
  • Include healthy, leafy salads, fruits and proteins in your “after the fasting” meal
  • Stick to a constant routine and eating pattern
  • Take 8 hours of sleep


  • Do not include junk foods or fast foods in your eating routine
  • Do not include refined flour
  • Do not include complex carbohydrates, fatty protein
  • Do not overload yourself with calories during the eating-window
  • Do not over-exert while working out

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