More than just a diet fad, intermittent fasting is a meal timing lifestyle schedule in which you cycle between periods of voluntary fasting and non-fasting. It has been hailed by many as the magical answer to shedding kilos and has amassed millions of fans all over the world claiming to experience rapid sustainable weight loss and improved health and wellbeing.
But did you know that intermittent fasting is not only good for humans, it is also suitable for dogs to adopt this lifestyle and its actually very beneficial for them?
Robert Belobrajdic, cofounder of premium dog food company Stay Loyal, has cared for and loved dogs his entire life. He has been a dog breeder for the past two decades and regularly writes for Stay Loyal’s Dog University blog.
According to Belobrajdic, both animal studies and human clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting can have some great positive health benefits for both you and your furry friend.
How intermittent fasting works for humans
Belobrajdic explained that while weight loss is certainly a welcome outcome of intermittent fasting for humans, it’s not the only benefit.
“The digestive system is complex and performs many important functions in the body, however, it needs time to get rid of toxins such as parasites, viruses and bacteria and chemical toxins,” Belobrajdic said.
“If we are constantly eating, the body is constantly working to remove toxins. Much like you can’t expect machinery to operate 24/7 without overheating and malfunctioning, the digestive system also needs to hit pause on the intake of food so that it can complete what it’s supposed to do properly.
“Without an interval to complete its task and reset, the body can start to make mistakes and develop autoimmune diseases in which it starts to attack the body’s own healthy cells and tissues.
“Auto immune disorder can then trigger other health issues which can present itself very similarly in dogs and humans. Common ailments include arthritis and allergies, liver disease and even cancer.
“When you adopt intermittent fasting as part of your routine, the body finally has the time to process and reset so that it has time to work on the toxins that we introduce into our bodies when we eat.
“Studies have shown that fasting causes the body to switch from using glucose in the liver to using ketones which are stored in fats. When this switch is made and the body has an increase in ketones, the body starts to experience some amazing benefits such as the removal or repair of damaged molecules, increased stress resistance and suppressed inflammation.”
Benefits of intermittent fasting for dogs
“While dogs are different to humans, the same principle applies to the way a dog’s digestive system works. Like humans, dogs need time to eliminate toxins and other nasties from the body,” Belobrajdic said.
“If you introduce your dog to intermittent fasting, it will give your dog’s digestive system the break it needs to function at peak performance levels.
“The fasting period is used to increase the dog’s gut anti-bacterial function, immunity and cancer fighting ability. Other benefits of intermittent fasting for dogs include an improvement of arthritic conditions and a longer life span.
“Dog owners might be unsure how to introduce a change so here are some tips. Two of the easiest patterns to follow are, firstly to fast two days in a seven day week, or else to only eat in a six-hour window in each day. If you want to start slow, researchers have found that reducing your dog’s food by 70 percent for one day a week can be beneficial.”
Fasting, not starving
“There is a difference between fasting and starving. Starvation occurs when the body isn’t getting enough nutrients to function properly. The body then starts consuming its fat reserves, after which, it begins to use the proteins from its muscle tissues,” Belobrajdic said.
“This is not what happens in intermittent fasting, so I would advise that if you want to adopt this plan, you should consult your GP for yourself and your dog’s vet before you start, so that you get it right for the both of you.”
About Stay Loyal
Founded in 2012 by cousins Robert Belobrajdic and David Korac, Stay Loyal is a leading Australian owned and produced dog food company. The dog food has been scientifically formulated with Australia’s leading pet nutritionist to create one of the best grain-free meat-based dry dog food available on the market. Stay Loyal has received a 5 Star Quality Rating from the independent Australian review panel, PetFoodReviews.com.au, and Robert Belobrajdic has written two books and nearly 200 blog posts on the topic of dog care.
For more information: www.stayloyal.com.au