What There is to Know About Fasting and Diets

As you already know, there is an overload of information out there about anything that has to do with eating, or in this case not eating, and what is and isn’t good for you.

In this article, we will try and provide a basic summary of some of the most talked about diets as well as fasting, so you can sift through the science a little easier.

To fast or not to fast?

Fasting, a practice with historical roots, has gained recent popularity for its potential health benefits. It involves abstaining from food or drinks for a specified period.

Despite its current popularity in the diet world, the practice dates back centuries. Whether it takes the form of complete abstinence or a lighter, lower-calorie diet, many argue that the human body is naturally adapted to periods without food. This practice is often referred to as ‘intermittent fasting’ or ‘time-restricted eating,’ both indicating eating patterns that increase the duration of the body’s fasting state by reducing the eating window.

Water fasting, juice fasting, intermittent fasting, partial fasting, and calorie restriction are common approaches.

Some of the claimed health benefits range from weight management to improved energy levels and productivity, to reduced inflammation amongst many others. But when it comes down to it, sometimes we all feel a bit blah and need a reset or add a bit of structure in our eating patterns to get us back on track.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, a dietary approach alternating between fasting and eating, includes methods like the 16/8 and 5:2, known for weight loss benefits. This strategy, restricting eating time, simplifies calorie reduction and may lead to weight loss, provided overeating is avoided during eating periods.

Studies reveal its positive impact on heart health (8). Reviews indicate 0.8–13% weight loss over 2 weeks to 1 year, surpassing other methods (9). It enhances fat burning while preserving muscle mass, improving metabolism (10). Its simplicity, requiring fewer meals and less preparation, sets it apart from complex diets.

While generally safe, individuals with blood sugar sensitivity, diabetes, low weight, eating disorders, or those pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a health professional before attempting intermittent fasting.

Safety and Side Effects of Fasting in General:

– Fasting may not be suitable for everyone and could cause side effects.

– Medical supervision is advised, especially for those with underlying health conditions or planning extended fasts.

But what about when you ARE eating ? There are so many fads coming and going, but below we have listed some diets and some of the benefits they include.

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet, renowned for its nutritional benefits and sustainability, is considered a gold standard for promoting health and longevity.

Based on the traditional foods of countries like Italy and Greece, it prioritises:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • fish
  • nuts
  • lentils
  • olive oil

Poultry, eggs, and dairy are consumed in moderation, while red meats are limited.

The diet restricts:

  • refined grains
  • trans fats
  • processed meats
  • added sugar
  • highly processed foods

Its focus on minimally processed foods and plant-based ingredients is linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases and increased life expectancy.

While initially designed to lower heart disease risk, the Mediterranean diet’s high unsaturated fat, plant-based approach has shown effectiveness in weight loss (1).

A systematic review of five studies revealed greater weight loss after one year compared to a low-fat diet and similar results to a low-carb diet (2).

Another study involving over 500 adults found that strong adherence to the Mediterranean diet doubled the likelihood of weight loss maintenance over 12 months (3). Furthermore, the diet’s promotion of antioxidant-rich foods may combat inflammation and oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals (4).

Plant-based and flexitarian diets

Plant-based diets, including vegetarianism and veganism, are popular choices for health, ethical, and environmental reasons. The flexitarian diet offers a more flexible approach by allowing moderate consumption of animal products. Unlike strict vegetarian and vegan diets, flexitarianism lacks specific rules on calories and macronutrients, emphasizing a lifestyle rather than a rigid diet.

Key principles include obtaining protein from plants, focusing on fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, opting for minimally processed foods, and limiting sugar intake. The flexibility to occasionally consume meat and animal products distinguishes the flexitarian approach.

Research indicates that plant-based diets, including flexitarianism, contribute to reduced risks of chronic diseases, improved metabolic health, lowered blood pressure, and decreased chances of developing type 2 diabetes (5).

These diets also show promise for weight loss (6).

Beyond health benefits, adopting a flexitarian lifestyle aligns with sustainability goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and soil degradation associated with meat consumption (7).

In conclusion, when combined with a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle, fasting has the potential to contribute to weight loss. However, individual considerations and medical supervision are crucial for a safe fasting experience.

*This article should be used as guidance and not medical advice. Please seek professional advice from a medical practitioner for an expert opinion.


1: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11154-020-09579-0

2: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26721635/

3: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32436489/

4: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31480794/

5: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5216044/

6: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5216044/

7: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019566632100550X

8: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7415631/

9: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32060194/

10: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5064803/