What’s the Deal with Intermittent Fasting?

A New Year, a New Decade. It’s that time of the year again when we make personal commitments about espousing a healthier lifestyle and losing weight.

One of the biggest diet trends across the world is intermittent fasting (IF). Celebrities from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Hugh Jackman, Kourtney Kardashian, and Jennifer Aniston all swear that this works for them. It has not only helped them lose weight, but it has also made them healthier. Although it can be a challenging commitment, the alternating cycles of eating and fasting have yielded many benefits for the body.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is the practice of alternating between specific periods of eating and not eating. According to Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Dr. Mark Mattson, intermittent fasting could be part of a healthy lifestyle. It is a restrictive regimen that does not allow calorie intake for certain hours of the day or days of the week. Dr. Mattson further says that the diet works because it changes the metabolism of a person. The idea behind it is that the bodies of human beings adapt to food scarcity, using up its stores of sugar which metabolizes fast and changes fats into energy.

What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting can boost stress resistance.

Since IF reduces insulin resistance, it lowers a person’s risk of having type 2 diabetes.It decreases blood pressure and resting heart rates. There is a 5-fold increase in the blood levels of the growth hormone, which facilitates muscle gain.It assists in important repair processes of the cells, such as the removal of waste materials.It facilitates weight loss and produces more norepinephrine, which increases the breakdown of body fats.

It helps lose belly fat, with people doing IF losing about 4% to 7% of their waist circumference.It enhances the body’s resistance to oxidative stress.It may help reduce brain damage due to stroke.

Does Intermittent Fasting Have Risks?

While there are a lot of researches that have proven the benefits of intermittent fasting, it is not for everyone. There are known risks of intermittent fasting as fasting for long periods of time can cause blood sugar levels to drop, along with:

  • Grogginess

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Dehydration

  • Low endurance

For people who are genetically predisposed to eating disorders, Intermittent Fasting really should be avoided.

For people who tend to binge eat, it can send them on the path to a rebound binge.It may give rise to orthorexia, an eating disorder wherein a person is so obsessed with healthy eating that it disrupts their social relationships.

Dr. Guy L. Mintz of New York’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital advised these groups of people to stay away from fasting:

  • People who are not overweight.

  • Diabetic patients on medications or who are insulin-dependent.

  • Lastly, intermittent fasting can also increase the body’s cortisol levels, making a person feel more stressed than usual.

How do you do you execute Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting diets vary. However, Dr. Mattson says that it generally falls into two types: time-restricted feeding (or 16:8) and 5:2 fasting.

Time-restricted feeding limits eating time from 6 to 8 hours per day and 16 to 18 hours of not eating, while 5:2 fasting involves eating a moderate-sized meal twice a week. When it comes to types of food to eat, IF does not restrict anything. It just tells the person when to eat food. Even if no food is allowed within the fasting window, the person can drink water, coffee (with no cream or sugar), tea (with no cream or sugar), and other beverages that contain no calories.

16:8 Fasting

This is the most popular form of Intermittent Fasting, encouraging people to eat within an 8-hour window. Most people who follow the 16:8 method usually eat at 12nn and have their last meal by 8 pm. The dieter can fit in at least 2 or 3 meals within the eating window.

5:2 Fasting

5:2 fasting, another common method, requires a person to eat about 500-600 calories during two days of the week. This was popularized by a British doctor named Michael Mosley.


Another method of intermittent fasting requires a person to alternate between fasting for 24 hours and then eating in the next 24 hours. The dieter needs to have serious self-discipline to fast for 24-hours straight.

The Warrior Diet

The principle behind the warrior diet is for a person to fast all day and eat a huge meal (or “feast”) at night. The eating window is 4 hours. It emphasizes specific food choices, mainly eating unprocessed foods.

No matter which route you try, it is important to ensure that you seek proper medical input, ie. talk to your doctor, when it comes to your health. At voxie, we are far-from-being-a-doctor, and we highly suggest you don't mess around when it comes to your health! Ever.

MEET THE AUTHOR Tara O'Doherty is Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of voxie. She's a global award-winning strategist, marketer, designer, author, speaker and educator who lives in Toronto, Canada with her two fat dogs. She is best known for her SickKids VS digital work which resulted in numerous global awards and helped secure over $700 million dollars in donations for the hospital. She is also the former co-Founder and CPO of JADEO and x-VP of Experience Strategy at Cossette Communications, and currently the VP of Design and UX at Akendi.


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