Is intermittent fasting right for you? Find out HERE!
If you’ve been reading my blog for the past 18 months, then you know that I’ve been practicing Intermittent Fasting!
What is intermittent fasting?
If you’re wondering what I mean by Intermittent Fasting (IF,) then let me explain.
IF simply means that you choose to fast during a certain time period each day, and you also choose to eat your calories within a certain time period each day. The most popular time period is 16:8, so for 16 hours, I don’t eat anything, then for 8 hours, I eat my regular amount of calories.
If you would like to learn more about my experience with IF and why I do it, please watch my video.
Since deciding to live a lifestyle that incorporates IF, I’ve had many of my customers also try it! Some have had great success and love it, while others have tried it and hated it. So today, I wanted to let you in on some of the benefits of intermittent fasting as well as some of the reasons why it may not be right for YOU!
Some Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
(please see this article that links to the studies and also touches on more benefits)
#1 Intermittent Fasting Changes the Function of Cells, Genes, and Hormones:
When you don’t eat for a while, several things happen to your body…
- Insulin levels drop which helps stimulate fat-burning.
- Human Growth Hormone increases which also stimulates fat-burning and muscle building.
- The body induces several cellular repair processes, such as removing waste from cells.
- There are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease.
#2 IF Can Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat:
Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.
For this reason, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories.
In other words, intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It boosts your metabolic rate (increases calories out) and reduces the amount of food you eat (reduces calories in).
#3 IF Can Help Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Your Risk of Type II Diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes has become incredibly common in recent decades.
Its main feature is high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance.
Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels, especially in men.
#4 IF Can Help Reduce Oxidative Stress & Inflammation In The Body:
Oxidative stress is one of the steps towards aging and many chronic diseases.
It involves unstable molecules called free radicals, which react with other important molecules (like protein and DNA) and damage them.
Several studies show that intermittent fasting may enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress.
Additionally, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, another key driver of all sorts of common diseases.
#5 IF May Help Prevent Cancer:
Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.
Fasting has been shown to have several beneficial effects on metabolism that may lead to reduced risk of cancer.
Although human studies are needed, promising evidence from animal studies indicates that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer.
There is also some evidence on human cancer patients, showing that fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy
#6 IF May Help You Live Longer:
One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan.
Studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan in a similar way as continuous calorie restriction.
In some of these studies, the effects were quite dramatic. In one of them, rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who weren’t fasted.
Although this is far from being proven in humans, intermittent fasting has become very popular among the anti-aging crowd.
Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.
Now that you know some of the benefits of intermittent fasting, I would like to go through some of the reasons why you may not be a good candidate for intermittent fasting.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Practice Intermittent Fasting
#1 You Have Had Or Currently Have An Eating Disorder:
For those that have struggled or struggle with an eating disorder (i.e. anorexia or bulimia) or even if you are “obsessed” with food and counting every single little calorie and obsessively watching what you eat, when you eat, etc. then I would not recommend IF to you. Why?
There can be a binge and purge mentality when doing IF. For example, “I must not eat during this certain time period,” or “Now that I can eat, I’m going to stuff my face with food.” This type of attitude towards IF can lead someone to feel guilt or shame after eating so much food or if they eat anything outside of their eating window. For someone with emotional or psychological eating disorders, IF could become a convenient crutch to amplify these issues.
This type of attitude can help to develop OCD eating habits and make your life less enjoyable.
#2 You Have a Thyroid and/or Adrenal Issue:
Fasting can cause a state of stress in your body, which signals the body to release cortisol, your stress hormone. And if you already have hormonal, thyroid, and/or adrenal issues, then you don’t want an increase in cortisol. When cortisol levels are elevated, you can have the undesired effect of storing fat and breaking down muscle, which is the opposite of what we would hope to achieve with IF.
#3 You Might Rely Too Much On Coffee:
During your fasting period, you may depend on coffee to get you through. If you already have slow metabolism, you could be interrupting your sleep schedule but all that caffeine can also promote anxiety and depression.
Coffee also increases your stress hormone, cortisol (see #2 above.) Even small increases in cortisol, such as those experienced with consuming caffeine, can raise blood sugar and increase insulin resistance.
#4 You Could Increase Food Intolerances and Inflammation:
For some people, fasting leaves them famished! And when it’s time to “break the fast,” they indulge in whatever food they can get their hands on, like a whole pizza for example. A major caloric overload and a huge blood sugar spike and crash will ultimately lead to more cravings.
Also, if you’re diving into foods like gluten, dairy, and other reactive foods in massive amounts, this paves the way for food intolerances, gut issues, and increased inflammation in your body.
#5 You Can Create An Unhealthy Obsession With Food
Similar to #1, when you are fasting, and there is food all around you, it’s normal to begin obsessing about food. When you’re hungry, everything else can get set aside and all you can think about is your next meal. Also, you might feel to need to stuff yourself so full at your last meal because you know you have to go 16 hours before your next meal. If this is a constant worry, then I wouldn’t recommend IF.
Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?
If you’ve read any of the reasons as to why you shouldn’t try IF, and any of them resonate with you, then I would say it’s definitely not for you.
But if you’re like me and you like the convenience of it (i.e. not having to prep meals all the time, don’t have to worry about bringing food along with you if you’re out, etc) and you don’t have any of the issues mentioned above, then I would say YES, give it a try.
It’s important you experiment on your own FIRST! Everyone is going to have a different experience with it. Like I mentioned above, I have customers of mine who love it and some who hate it. The important thing is to follow your body’s cues and listen to what it’s telling you. Is it telling you desperately to eat? Then eat? Is it telling you that it doesn’t need food first thing in the morning? Then don’t eat!
Last summer, I thought I would try and go back to eating 5 smaller meals a day, just for something different and to see if I liked it better. After two days, I absolutely hated it. I was hungry all the time, I was always thinking about where I would be for my next meal, I was shaky and anxious between meals. Basically, it was horrible for me. As soon as I went back to IF, I felt so much better!
After experimenting with different ways of eating, I feel that IF is best for me. I’m a healthy 39 year old woman who doesn’t have adrenal, thyroid or hormonal issues (I know because I’ve had them tested.) I don’t obsess over food and when my next meal is going to be. I keep stress to a bare minimum in my life. I don’t rely on coffee or stimulants to get through my day. I love eating whole foods that fuel my body and make me feel good both inside and outside.
If you’ve ever attempted intermittent fasting, have you encountered any of the roadblocks I mentioned? Do you think IF makes an optimal strategy for you? Share your thoughts below.