Food and Diabetes - Diets and Fasting (Part 2)

This article touches upon various types of diets and the difference between them. The importance of fasting and various time periods of fasting. Any changes you wish to make to yourself - both internal and external starts with diet. The various kinds of food, when to eat and how much to eat are important for our well-being. Over the years we have come across various diets and would have even tried a few. Any diet is only sustainable over a long period of time if it is easy to follow and easy to cook. The diet should have ingredients which are easy to procure. It should not be so dramatically different that cooking for a family becomes a challenge and gets complicated. But with time and more research and advancement in science, our understanding of how our body processes various foods has changed. What food is good for you seems to be changing all the time! At one point fat was considered to be bad for you. With the rising popularity of the Keto diet though, fat became the hero and carbs became the villain. We now have better devices, data from various studies which gives us better insights into what goes on within us and how we react to various food sources. Of course, each individual is different and there will be variations based on our body type, our metabolism, hormone levels etc., but how carbohydrates, protein, fats, fiber and sugar get processed within us is pretty much the same. 

Most of us in India follow a high carb diet. Our Dal-Chawal, Roti-Sabzi, paranthas, poha, idli-sambar are carbohydrate rich and it forms 50-60% of a meal (which eventually converts to sugar). We do include dals, pulses, legumes, meat, eggs, vegetables, dairy products and fruits from which we derive macro and micro nutrients. But carbs still dominate our plate. With shifting %s in nutritional value we derive from our meals, obesity and diabetes only continues to be on the rise and a significant concern which is why India is dubbed the diabetes capital of the World. A detailed study done by the medical journal, The Lancet mentioned that Indians tend to consume more carbohydrates, sugar, less of protein and plant protein than what is recommended for a sample adult population base, despite having access to diversified dietary sources. This brings us back to the root question of what is a good diet?  

Let’s put together a framework for nutrition and fasting and understand diet as a whole.

Diet is not only about What you eat but consists of two other parameters – when and how much you eat

Diets can be time restricted (you eat in a restricted time frame), quantity restricted (how much you eat) and content restricted (what you eat).

  1. What are the various types of feeding patterns based on time (time based restrictions – When you eat):

TRF (Time Restricted Feeding) – Time Restricted Feeding does not restrict what you eat. You could even be eating a high carb diet. It does not restrict how much you eat. But there is a restriction on when you can eat. Which could be in a window of (16/8) (16 hours fasting and 8 hour eating window), 18/6 (18 hours fasting and 6 hour eating window) and in some cases 22/2 (which is a 22 hour fasting and 2 hour eating window). Though people call this intermittent fasting, it is more of a restricted feeding time. Intermittent Fasting (IF) comes under a different fasting bucket and you will understand that as we explore further.

  1. Lets us now look at the second parameter which is "What" you eat. What are the Dietary Restrictions (DR) -  Dietary Restrictions doesn’t restrict how much you eat or when you eat but it restricts what you can eat.

Most of the diets fall under one of these categories - Keto, Vegan, Low Carb, Low Fat, Paleo, Vegetarian. Any diet which follows a restriction on what you can eat falls under this bucket. 

Many of us follow one of these diets which is just one aspect of nutritional biochemistry. 

The third aspect is "how much" you eat. This can be called fasting which can be further classified into various types based on (% reduction in calories, duration of fasting and frequency of repeating the fast). 

Caloric Restriction (Here we consume everyday only 60-70% of our required calories. So the % reduction in calories is 30-40%, duration and frequency is daily.     
  1. These three aspects of What, When and How much you eat are important aspects of Diet and Fasting.                                                                                                                                                                           Let us see how TRF (Time Restricted Fasting) is different from Intermittent Fasting (IF). IF (Intermittent Fasting) –IF is fasting observed over periods of time. Like a 24 hours fast, 2 days, 7 day fast and so on. The way it differs from TRF (Time Restricted Feeding) is that in the TRF we eat in the 24 hour period though in a restricted window whereas in the case of Intermittent Fasting we do not eat for a minimum of 24 hours. Why it is called Intermittent Fasting then is because we fast over a period of time. We may be fasting twice a week or once a month/quarter and so on. So, if you were to fast for 2 days, one a month then the calorie reduction would be 100%, for 2 days and repeated every 30 days and can be depicted as - (100%, 2, 30))

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