The UK’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has revealed that he maintains a balanced lifestyle by practising intermittent fasting one day a week.

Rishi Sunak has reportedly revealed that he does not eat any food for 36 hours at the start of every week – skipping meals on Monday and “breaking his fast” on Tuesday.

He said: “I tend to try and do some fasting at the beginning of every week as part of a general balanced lifestyle, but everyone will do this differently.

“I have a weakness for sugary things. It means that I can then indulge myself in all the sugary treat I like for the rest of the week.”

The prime minister has said that he prefers drinking Mexican Coke because it contains cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup.

High-fructose corn syrup is an artificial sugar made from corn syrup.

According to friends of Rishi Sunak, he does not consume any food from 5pm on Sunday until 5am on Tuesday.

In addition, he has revealed that he is a fan of physical activity and regularly works out in the morning on his Peloton bike.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach which involves voluntary abstinence from food and drink. The practice has been part of human practice for millennia and has many cultural, religious, and health-related motives.

The historical roots stretch across diverse civilisations.

In ancient times, intermittent fasting was more a consequence of the environment than a deliberate choice.

As a hunter-gatherer society, humans naturally experienced this form of fasting. They ate when they had food and fasted when they did not.

Feasting and fasting was fundamental to existence, dictated by resource availability.

Greek philosophers including Hippocrates and Plato commented on the benefits of fasting and believed it could ensure physical and mental vigour.

Many world major religions have long-standing traditions of intermittent fasting, too.

Islam observes Ramadan, a month of fasting from dawn until sunset and Christians traditionally fast during Lent.

Buddhists often adhere to a regimen of intermittent fasting as part of their spiritual practices.

Fasting is also ingrained in the Hindu faith.

Sunak’s Hindu faith has been a point of interest in the media, particularly considering the diversity it brings to British politics.

How does fasting work?

Fasting can cause weight loss as it forces the body to use stored body fat for energy.

The 5:2 diet allows individuals to eat normally for five days in a row, followed by two days of restricted, calorie-controlled eating.

Meanwhile, the 16/8 diet allows people to only eat during an eight-hour period before fasting for the following 16 hours.

Time-restricted eating is another approach which focuses on limiting your daily eating periods to specific windows of time with less emphasis on what you eat and more on when you eat.

Intermittent fasting has been practicsed for millenia.

However, registered dietitian Clare Thornton-Wood noted caution: “Intermittent fasting could help people lose weight, but it needs to go hand-in-hand with eating a healthy, balanced diet for the rest of the time.

“If you then make up those calories by eating more on other days and eat whatever you like for the rest of the week, you actually won’t lose weight overall.”

She added: “People should always get medical advice before trying intermittent fasting as it is not advisable for groups including children, teenagers, anyone with a history of eating disorders, with diabetes or who is breastfeeding or pregnant.”

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