Recently, I have been asked a lot about something called Intermittent fasting (IF).  I went straight to the research to look for the possible benefits and adverse effects of such a diet.

girls eating foodI don’t think this kind of diet would be unhealthy. As with anything, the more research out there, the more confusing something can become. Sometimes the more we search, the less we know for sure, always saying we need to know more. This is okay. I’m about to tell you everything I have found—both pros and cons; Both sides of the story. Whether or not you should do a diet like this is entirely up to you. It would be best if you discussed all of this with your doctor, your nutritionist, or fitness instructors.

There is a chance that when you ask your doctor about IF, they may respond with “not sure, I’d have to look into it.” ” It is way better to get that response rather than to hear “it is great” or “it is terrible and unhealthy doesn’t ‘t do it.” ” There are different types too! There is Alternate IF, Modified IF and Time-Restricted IF.  So many different kinds! So let us get into what each type means.   from overweight to fit                               Alternate IF

This means that two days a week, you do not eat and do not drink anything.  This is known as the 5:2.  On the other days, you eat like you usually would.  

You alternate between fasting and eating days.  Notice, I said. Usually, this does not mean binge eat unhealthy fatty foods like three big macs and a shake because you’ve fasted for 24 hours the previous day. 

The research found that this kind of IF reduced fasting insulin and glucose levels. However, the effects were not much different from regular caloric restriction while eating low calories every day of the week. One study looked at a combination of education. Some found that IF lowered triglycerides (TG), cholesterol, certain cancer risk factors, and inflammatory markers.

weighing machine
Intermittent Fasting: Pros and Cons

Weight loss was also noted.  However, other studies found that although these things to occur, LDL (BAD cholesterol) also increased. Another issue was that people in the survey complained of constant hunger on fasting days, which “did not decrease over time,” so it might not be an achievable intervention to improve the health of a community

                                         Modified IF

This is similar to Alternate IF; the difference is that on the “fasting days” instead of not eating or drinking anything at all, you only eat or drink 20-25% of what you usually would. 

Overall results from many studies show that there is weight loss, with some improvement in sugar levels, inflammatory markers, insulin resistance.

spoons and plate with a glass of water

Very similar to the Alternate IF. However, they were not able to show that this kind of calorie restriction was any better than any other type of diet in which calories are restricted.  Some people reported feeling less tension and anger and a positive effect on self-confidence.  Other people said headaches, low energy, feeling cold and irritable.  This diet does not have the same impact on everyone, so it’s important to listen to your body and change your diet and exercise regimens to you individually.

                          Time-Restricted IF

These diets generally have a fasting interval of about 12-20 hours.  This means the remaining 4-8 hours are the eating permitted hours.  There are some differences.  You can either do one meal a day (lunch usually), OR you can use your eating interval to space out three meals in the day of equal calories as if you would have the one meal/day. It sounds confusing, so I hope I didn’t make that worse.  This type of dieting has similar results to the above two.  Lower cholesterol, glucose, insulin, and some other factors, which would improve your immunity (ability to fight infection) and improved insulin sensitivity.   Comparing the one meal a day to the three meal a day type of diets: There was higher weight loss in those who only consumed one meal/day.

Drawbacks? 

Yes!  Those who only ate one meal a day complained of feeling more hungry the morning after their fast.  Who likes to feel hungry?  I don’t, which is why this diet wouldn’t be for me (but it still could be for you).

That explains the benefits and downfalls of each type of IF.  But I am sure you want to know whether or not this is a proper diet, or if it’s’s even good for YOU. Am I right?  Okay, here is the bottom line:

  1. Any fasting, such as overnight fasting, has shown to level your metabolism and put it into a “steady state.” Meaning not high and not low, just regulated.
  2. Any of the above three can lead to weight loss, between 3-8%. However, other diets that are low in calories can lead to a weight loss of 4-14%.  These diets, as well as any other low cal diet, can lower visceral fat, insulin resistance, fasting insulin, and glucose.  So there are some benefits, but these can be reached through other less strict diets as well.
  3. Alternating between fasting and eating days may be the worst one. Not because it’s unhealthy as it has similar benefits as the other 2, but because many people complain of hunger, and hunger is not something you want to feel.
  4. There are some benefits, as you can see, but everyone reacts differently. These kinds of diets can also alter your sleeping patterns, mood, and exercise endurance.

fresh fruit and vegetable juice on the tableOkay, that’s it.  Intermittent fasting is a thing now, and it’s’s becoming more popular.  Regardless of which diets you choose to follow, do your research. Ask people who do them, and ask them for guidance. Make sure you are keeping track of yourself and monitoring how you feel both in energy, mood, and overall wellbeing.  And if you feel great, healthy, strong, and energized, then, by all means, continue doing what you’re doing. Make sure you consult with your doctors too. Oh… I forgot to mention this one last thing.  IF, in combination with exercise, has much more potent effects on your weight!

Okay, now I’m being done!

Stay healthy!

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