I stumbled upon the idea of intermittent fasting during my search for a simple, effective diet plan. This plan of action stood out like a sore thumb as I realized that it is not so much of a diet but a pattern of eating that seems to bring about some pretty promising results.
Fasting is just a fancy term to describe the absence of eating, and intermittent fasting (IF) is just simply cycling between periods of eating and fasting. This regimen can be tailored to your preference. The eating time frame can be within designated hours or even days (such as the 5:2 diet which provides 5 days of normal eating and 2 days of extreme calorie deprivation). To start off with, many people choose one that deals with the hours of the day. For example, a common fast is one that permits eating between the hours of 1 pm and 7 pm only. In this particular case, one would skip breakfast time therefore only eating about 1-2 times per that day. Within the eating period, no foods are restricted. Sounds simple enough, right?
Though intermittent fasting has brought about many health advantages and much weight loss, there are a few disadvantages that go along with this plan. Let’s talk about the cons first.
It’s Not For Everyone
Though I am a frequent intermittent faster, I have to admit that not only is this regimen not recommended for some people, but it also not many not work for some either. As we all know, some diet plans or “ways of eating” just don’t give some people the same results as others. This is just the way of life, and it often comes with no explanation. But, this plan is also not recommended for those who are underweight, pregnant women or those breastfeeding, and adolescents. Also, women who have a sensitive hormone balance, the elderly or those with metabolic disorders (such as diabetes or hypoglycemia), and those with gout or high uric acid will need to consult with a physician before giving intermittent fasting a try.
Aside from possibly having to skip out on brunch with your friends or snack time with the coworkers, there are a few other factors that may require time to adjust to. Due to the fixation of food, many people will find themselves constantly obsessing over eating while fasting. Subsequently, one may experience low-energy levels, difficulty focusing, heartburn, and headaches which can lead them to being both unproductive and unhappy. However, it is important to note that after about a week or two, these symptoms subside, and your desire for food will lessen over time. So if you can stand it, hang in there.
The Tendency To Binge
The good thing about this con, is that you are in complete control. Due to the possible discomfort of the fasting period, it is normal to want to treat yourselves when you are actually able to eat – so you may choose to binge out. Please don’t do this, as it can completely counteract your efforts.
Now for the PROS…
Yay! The majority of those opting to partake in this fast do so because they want to shed a few pounds .. or more. Restricting eating times to a designated time period cuts down on excessive snacking and unneeded calories. Additionally, you can expect your hormone levels to sway, making it easier to lose weight. During fasting periods, insulin levels lower while the release of noradrenaline, or the fat burning hormone, is increased. In turn, the metabolic rate speeds up.
No Dietary Restrictions
Though this one of my favorite factors of IF, I was a bit hesitant on mentioning it. This is because, though you may eat anything that you want during this fast, you must keep in mind that eating too many unhealthy foods (excessive amounts of starch, sugar, etc.) may cause you to not see results at all. Moderation is key. You can still eat pizza and cookies, but keep your end goal in mind so that you don’t go overboard.
Easier Than Dieting
Some may debate this point, but hear me out. Most diets are very restrictive making them difficult to follow through with. However, IF is simple because you are the one who creates your own eating window and what foods you consume. Because of this, it can be quite easy to make IF a lifestyle choice.
Potential Health Benefits
Many of us are aware that during the absence of eating, your body will undergo purification to some degree, but in addition to IF being a detoxifier, there have been other benefits associated with this fast. Studies have shown that cancer patients may benefit from IF during chemotherapy treatment. Results show that fasting for 3 days prior to the therapy have led to easier recoveries and fewer deaths. Intermittent fasting has also been linked to the reduction of insulin resistance, improvements in heart and brain health, reduction in inflammation, and even to slow down factors that promote aging.
During an intermittent fast, you must remember to stay hydrated. In fact, most of the reported “side effects” stem from dehydration, not the fast itself. And as for the hunger aspect, it is important to realize that hunger comes in waves. So, if you think about food for a bit, you may feel hungry, but if you don’t give in to your thoughts, you will soon see that the feeling has subsided.
I would advise as many people as possible to give intermittent fasting a try. I promise, you will not starve, and you will likely notice improvements in your health pretty early in the game!