This Morning: Dr Sara talks about the benefits of intermittent fasting

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When it comes to intermittent fasting (IF), there are many different ways to do it. Some experts advise lengthier periods of not eating, which can result in people fasting for around 15-18 hours, and then eating during the remaining six to eight hours.

Anyone can do it, but nutritionist and food Coach, Anupama Menon, offered a word of caution for women in particular when engaging in extreme intermittent fasting.

New dieting techniques can interfere negatively with the menstrual cycle and women should always consult a doctor before switching to a new method.

By sticking to a specific time window and skipping breakfast, women could be at risk of other health factors.

She stated: “Not a minute more than 14 hours of fasting is recommended for women.

“This can delay periods and increase the risk for anxiety and depression.”

People usually tend to push their breakfast back to around lunch time so as to get a longer fasting period overnight.

But this is something that Menon disagrees with, despite acknowledging comfort differs between individuals.

“Breakfast is a very important meal of the day,” she said.

“I never missed my breakfast as a kid because it gave me energy for the day.”

But the dietician noted that as other nutritionists recommended skipping breakfast entirely, people must try what works for them.

“Intermittent fasting essentially means skipping your breakfast,” she said.

“While we cannot vouch for the fact that it is completely wrong, every person has to try what works for his/her body.”

Registered dietitian Danielle Schaub added: “Skipping breakfast during IF is popular because you don’t notice hunger or symptoms of fasting while sleeping.

“It’s just easier for most people to delay breakfast than it is to go to bed hungry.”

She added: “There isn’t conclusive research that when you eat matters. It’s the overall calories consumed in a day relative to how many calories you burn that dictates weight loss.”

Menon also underlined the importance of how people feel after intermittent fasting.

She recommended dropping the fasting period from 16 hours to 14 hours, then to 12 hours if symptoms of fatigue and a discontent digestive system don’t disappear.

But there is a mixed research about whether people should fasting for so long.

Stella Volpe, registered dietitian and chair of the department of nutrition sciences at Drexel University, explained that some studies report that skipping breakfast can lead to an “increased risk of type 2 diabetes” and others reporting that skipping breakfast “does not affect a person’s overall health”.

A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that subjects had an increase in inflammatory markers in the blood on days when breakfast meal was skipped.

But it must be noted that the sample size was very small.

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