NHS’s number one rule for weight loss contradicts trendy intermittent fasting advice

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The trend for intermittent fasting, endorsed by many celebrities and sport stars, has been challenged by the NHS. In its 12 Tips to Help You Lose Weight, the health service contradicts the dieting method supported by the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth.

Those who take part in intermittent fasting schedule periods of eating and periods of fasting. It is not about which foods to eat, but rather when you eat them. There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.

Skipping breakfast is a common element in many intermittent fasting methods. This includes the 16/8 method, which consists of a 16-hour overnight fast followed by an eight-hour eating window.

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However, the NHS’s rule number one for losing weight is not to skip breakfast. It says: “Skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight. You could miss out on essential nutrients and you may end up snacking more throughout the day because you feel hungry.”

Which celebs have tried intermittent fasting?

Famous people who have talked about intermittent fasting include Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Aniston, Kourtney Kardashian, Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson and Reese Witherspoon. In June, James Corden said that he had shed six stone through intermittent fasting, boxing and being mindful about what he ate.

What is the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting?

The 16/8 method involves limiting your intake of food and drink (except water) to a window of eight hours per day. You abstain from food for the remaining 16 hours, though you’re still allowed water and black coffee or tea.

You can repeat this cycle as frequently as you’d like. Some people do it one or two days per week, while others try it every day.

The popularity of this fasting method has grown widely recently, with many celebrity endorsements on social media. The 16/8 intermittent fasting method is also believed to improve blood sugar control and help people live longer.

While the 16/8 doesn’t place any restrictions on what you can eat, it’s still important to choose whole foods and ones that are high in vitamin content. Some of the foods that are best to consume on the 16/8 diet are:

  • Whole grains like rice, oats, barley, wholegrain pasta and quinoa
  • Protein such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds
  • Fruits like apples, bananas, berries, oranges and pears
  • Veggies like broccoli, spinach as well as other leafy greens
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados

What are the NHS’s 12 tips for losing weight?

Here are the NHS tips :

1. Do not skip breakfast

Skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight. You could miss out on essential nutrients and you may end up snacking more throughout the day because you feel hungry.

2. Eat regular meals

Eating at regular times during the day helps burn calories at a faster rate. It also reduces the temptation to snack on foods high in fat and sugar.

3. Eat plenty of fruit and veg

Fruit and veg are low in calories and fat, and high in fibre – three essential ingredients for successful weight loss. They also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals.

4. Get more active

Being active is key to losing weight and keeping it off. As well as providing lots of health benefits, exercise can help burn off the excess calories you cannot lose through diet alone – find an activity you enjoy and are able to fit into your routine.

5. Drink plenty of water

People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. You can end up consuming extra calories when a glass of water is really what you need.

6. Eat high-fibre foods

Foods containing lots of fibre can help keep you feeling full, which is perfect for losing weight. Fibre is only found in food from plants, such as fruit and veg, oats, wholegrain bread, brown rice and pasta, and beans, peas and lentils.

7. Read food labels

Knowing how to read food labels can help you choose healthier options. Use the calorie information to work out how a particular food fits into your daily calorie allowance on the weight loss plan.

8. Use a smaller plate

Using smaller plates can help you eat smaller portions. By using smaller plates and bowls, you may be able to gradually get used to eating smaller portions without going hungry. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it’s full, so eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.

9. Do not ban foods

Do not ban any foods from your weight loss plan, especially the ones you like. Banning foods will only make you crave them more. There’s no reason you cannot enjoy the occasional treat as long as you stay within your daily calorie allowance.

10. Do not stock junk food

To avoid temptation, do not stock junk food – such as chocolate, biscuits, crisps and sweet fizzy drinks – at home. Instead, opt for healthy snacks, such as fruit, unsalted rice cakes, oat cakes, unsalted or unsweetened popcorn, and fruit juice.

11. Cut down on alcohol

A standard glass of wine can contain as many calories as a piece of chocolate. Over time, drinking too much can easily contribute to weight gain.

12. Plan your meals

Try to plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week, making sure you stick to your calorie allowance. You may find it helpful to make a weekly shopping list.

What about the 5/2 method?

The 5:2 diet, popularised by diet guru Michael Mosley, has dieters eating normally for five days of the week and restricting calories to 500-600 per day for the remaining two days. Mosley also warns against eating fruits high in sugar – fruits like mangoes are quite high in natural sugars in comparison to other fruits like grapes or raspberries.

What do other experts say?

Some research actually says that eating early in the day is better than eating later. One of the most respected researchers in the field of intermittent fasting is Dr Courtney Peterson, of the University of Alabama in the USA. She said: “Data suggests that eating earlier in the day improves weight loss, glycemic control, appetite, insulin resistance and fertility.”