Intermittent fasting is one of the fastest growing styles of eating at the moment. But what exactly is it, and will it suit you?

With the seemingly infinite number of diets, meal plans, eating regimes, or nutrition schedules currently floating around the interwebs, it’s very easy to get bogged down amongst the buzzwords of the moment.

Paleo, high protein, low carb, Keto, Bulletproof – all these plans are just part of our everyday language these days, with intermittent fasting now joining the gang.

More than just another diet trend, intermittent fasting is the dark horse of maintaining health success. Please note, we’re going to say that if anyone tells you they have the magical key to anything health-related, run. Like everything that’s good for us, nutrition is all about the long game.

We’re going to take an unbiased look at intermittent fasting; what works, what doesn’t, who it can help, and who it can hurt. Most importantly, we’ll help you decide, for yourself, if it’s a good fit for you.


Technically, it is exactly what it says on the packet. Intermittent Fasting (IF) is fasting for intermittent periods of time. 

“Primarily, it involves simply not eating for the majority of the day and breaking the ‘constant snacking’ cycle of modern life,” says Xali resident nutritionist Samantha Gowing, a supporter of the eating style herself.

“There are a number of different time frames, however, the 16:8 method is the most popular version. This is where food intake is restricted to an 8-hour block of time during the day, and no calorie intake for the other 16 hours. In practical terms, this means we stop eating at a certain time of the evening, say 6PM, then eat again 16 hours later (in this case, 10AM).

“Intermittent fasting is an excellent way to break old habits, manage emotional eating, lower our cortisol levels and truly practice mindful eating.”

Whilst there are a number of time frames that all fall under this plan, it is the 16:8 plan that is the most popular. This is often because of its day-to-day consistency and no specific calorie-counting requirement – when eating on a restricted time frame hand-in-hand with mindfulness, it’s natural to reduce calorie intake. 

However, it’s not all about the calories.


Cynthia Thurlow is a globally recognised expert in nutrition. Her TEDx Talk on intermittent fasting hs gathered nearly 9 million views. Initially skeptical of intermittent fasting, the more Cynthia learned about this eating pattern and its specific effects on hormone rebalancing, the more she realised its power to optimise health. 


A sugar hit at any time of the day is still a sugar hit, right? Well, not necessarily.

A review of the science behind intermittent fasting published in the New England Journal of Medicine sheds some light. Fasting is evolutionarily embedded within our physiology, triggering several essential cellular functions.

Flipping the switch from a fed to fasting state does more than help us burn calories and lose weight. The researchers combed through dozens of animal and human studies to explain how simple fasting improves metabolism, lowers blood sugar; it lessens inflammation, which improves a range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma; and even helps clear out toxins and damaged cells, which lowers risk for cancer and enhances brain function.


Intermittent fasting is safe for most people, but studies show it does have some potential side effects – headaches, fatigue, and dehydration being the most reported. Also, any eating plan that supports skipping meals or restrictive eating can trigger some not-so-great food relationships. If this is something you’re concerned about, always check with your GP or a registered dietitian before considering.

At the end of the day, there’s never going to be a silver bullet, magic pill or secret potion that will be the elixir to everlasting youth. And even if there was, would we really want it? Part of our aging process is to do so with all the grace we can, whilst giving our bodies and our minds the nurturing to enable us to transition into the next stage with gratitude and inner beauty.

And our health and wellness game is on point.


Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting (Patterson, R. & Sears, D.) Annual Review of Nutrition, August 2017.

Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings: (Barnosky, A., Hoddy, K., Unterman, T. &aVarady, K.) – Science Direct, accessed 6th June 2021

9 Intermittent Fasting Benefits and Potential RisksJillian Kubala, MS, RD (Medically reviewed by Grant Tinsley, PhD NutritionHealthline Media


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