OPINION

Wellness | Appetites growing for intermittent fasting

AIM: Intermittent fasters pack healthy foods into a daily window. Picture: Shutterstock
AIM: Intermittent fasters pack healthy foods into a daily window. Picture: Shutterstock

Why are you staring at my sandwich like that?

I haven't seen one in a while. I'm doing intermittent fasting.

I've always thought that sounded a bit random. Like "accidental hero" or "scattered showers".

There's nothing random about not eating for 16 hours a day. It takes solid willpower. Just ask Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston and many, many more who swear by the 16:8 eating plan.

Jennifer Aniston says she doesn't eat in the mornings - just coffee and celery juice. But haven't we been taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?

Well, you can now step away from the cereal.

Recent studies contradict the traditional advice to "kickstart your metabolism" in the morning with a hearty feed.

There's no solid evidence that skipping breakfast will slow your overall calorie-burning.

I'm happy to hear that. I've always been more of a brunch person.

You'd make a good intermittent faster. You could start your 16-hour fast at 7pm, then break it with brunch at 11am.

Bring on the pancakes! But what exactly are the benefits of this food-free phase?

Consuming your daily food ration during an eight-hour window and avoiding eating for the remaining 16 hours might just deliver a bunch of anti-ageing effects.

One major US study in 2017 linked intermittent fasting with improved outcomes for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

The researchers theorised that the fasting boosts the body's crucial cell renewal processes.

But isn't this a return to the bad old days of starvation diets? People smoking instead of eating? Being "hangry" all the time?

Not if you eat healthy, slow-burning energy foods during your daily eating window.

While fasters say they do feel pretty hungry towards the end of that 16-hour abstinence period, it's not the same steep crash caused by too many high-sugar, refined carb foods.

Also, fasting fans say their eating plan works with your body's circadian rhythms.

We're designed to eat during daylight hours, so fasting after sunset until mid-morning the next day makes good biological sense.

It's the best justification for a long brunch that I've ever heard. Make mine a Bloody Mary.

  • Amy Cooper is a journalist who embraces wellness, but has also used kale to garnish a cocktail.