One of the most common challenges we face as fitness professionals, is helping clients shed the extra pounds gained during the festive season. With New Year’s resolutions in full swing, many are seeking effective and safe weight loss strategies. Recent studies suggest that intermittent fasting (IF) could be a promising approach.

Understanding Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is more than just a diet; it’s a pattern of eating that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Unlike traditional diets that focus on what to eat, IF emphasises when to eat. This approach has been gaining traction due to its potential health benefits and flexibility.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

  • Time-Restricted Eating: This involves setting a daily eating window. The most common form is the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window.
  • The 5:2 Diet: This involves eating normally for five days of the week and reducing calorie intake to about 500-600 calories on the other two days, which are non-consecutive.
  • Alternate-Day Fasting: This method alternates between normal eating days and fasting days (or days with very limited calorie intake).
  • 24-Hour Fasts: This involves fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next day, totalling a full 24-hour fast. It’s typically done once or twice a week.
  • Spontaneous Meal Skipping: This is a more flexible approach where you skip meals when convenient, such as when you’re not hungry or too busy to cook and eat.

How It Works

Intermittent fasting works by extending the period where your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat. It’s a state known as metabolic switching. This switch is a natural part of our evolutionary makeup — our ancestors often went through periods of feast and famine, and our bodies adapted to function without food for extended periods.

Potential Benefits

  • Weight Loss and Fat Loss: IF can lead to a reduction in body weight and body fat by creating a calorie deficit and enhancing hormone function to facilitate weight loss.
  • Improved Metabolic Health: IF can improve various metabolic features important for brain health, including reducing blood sugar levels, lowering insulin resistance, and reducing inflammation.
  • Heart Health: IF may benefit heart health by improving blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and inflammatory markers.
  • Brain Health: IF increases the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Cellular Repair and Longevity: Fasting triggers a cellular repair process called autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins. This process is linked to longevity.


While IF can be beneficial, it’s not suitable for everyone. People with certain health conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those with a history of eating disorders should consult with healthcare professionals before starting IF. It’s also important to maintain a balanced diet during eating periods to ensure adequate nutrient intake.

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Study Insights 

Intermittent Fasting in Athletes: A 2023 study by Silva et al. explored the impact of a 12-hour IF regimen on Taekwondo athletes. The results were promising, showing a significant decrease in total body mass within the first two weeks, without compromising performance.

Intermittent Fasting in Overweight Individuals: Another study conducted in 2022 by Kang et al. focused on the effects of a 5:2 intermittent fasting programme, where participants consumed 30% of their energy requirements on fasting days and 70% on non-fasting days. This approach led to a significant weight loss, with 85.7% of participants losing more than 5% of their body weight.

Implementing Intermittent Fasting for Post-Holiday Weight Loss

A Periodised Eating Plan

Weeks 1-2: Introduction Phase

  • Start with a 12-hour fasting window (e.g., 7 PM to 7 AM).
  • Encourage light to moderate physical activity.
  • Focus on hydration and nutrient-dense foods during eating periods.

Weeks 3-4: Adjustment Phase

  • Gradually increase the fasting window to 14 hours.
  • Introduce more structured exercise routines.
  • Continue focusing on balanced, healthy meals during eating periods.

Weeks 5-8: 5:2 Intermittent Fasting

  • Implement the 5:2 approach: 2 non-consecutive days of reduced calorie intake (30% of energy requirements) and 5 days of normal eating (70% of energy requirements).
  • Monitor client responses and adjust as necessary.

Weeks 9-12: Maintenance and Evaluation

  • Maintain the 5:2 pattern or adjust based on client progress and comfort.
  • Evaluate overall weight loss and make long-term recommendations.
  • Continue focusing on balanced, healthy meals during eating periods.

Safety and Considerations

While IF can be an effective tool for weight loss, it’s crucial to individualise the approach based on each client’s health status, goals, and preferences. Monitoring and adjusting the plan as needed can help ensure safety and effectiveness.

Intermittent fasting offers a flexible and effective approach to post-holiday weight loss. By following a structured, periodised plan, fitness professionals can guide their clients towards achieving their weight loss goals safely and sustainably.


  1. Silva, R. A. D., et al. (2023). Intermittent Fasting Promotes Weight Loss without Decreasing Performance in Taekwondo. Nutrients, 15(14), 3131. Click here to review the full research article.
  2. Kang, J., et al. (2022). Effects of an Intermittent Fasting 5:2 Plus Programme on Body Weight in Chinese Adults with Overweight or Obesity: A Pilot Study. Nutrients, 14(22), 4734. Click here to review the full research article.

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