Is Intermittent Fasting The Right Way Forward For You?
Intermittent fasting could be considered one of the biggest fitness and eating trends right now but what does it involve. This dietary strategy involves a strict eating schedule for mealtimes and it does not include specific foods. It has also been referred to as time-restricted eating. People practicing intermittent fasting will have to go for a specified period ranging from hours to days while only eating as little as 500 calories of food to none at all.
Intermittent fasting has three variations, namely:
- The time restriction method: This intermittent fasting method permits you to eat anything you want between noon and 8 p.m. without eating anything else before this period or afterwards.
- The alternate day method: On this method, you can eat any food you want between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. while fasting on the next day. You can continue with this alternating method for however long you please but this means during the fasting period, both men and women can only have 500 calories worth of food.
- The 5-2 method: this intermittent fasting method involves eating whatever you want for five out of the seven days of the week and then fasting for the remaining two days. Fasting in this plan includes eating 600 calories (men) or 500 calories (women) the whole day.
The intermittent fasting method may sound crazy especially if you are trying to recover from highly demanding training sessions, fuel your workouts, and gain strength. When your body demands an influx of nutrients consistently, skipping your food intake on a timely basis does not sound like a good idea. So how do you know whether intermittent fasting is right for you? It would be good to look at the benefits and disadvantages of this diet before embarking on it.
Intermittent fasting can help you boost your overall health by allowing your digestive system to rest as it is constantly working overtime. This diet can reduce inflammation as well as oxidative stress in the body because of this. Oxidative stress is a significant contributor towards multiple chronic diseases and the aging process. Oxidative stress comprises of unstable free radicals reacting with important molecules such as DNA and protein molecules and causing damage to them.
It helps to encourage repair of the cells when the cells go through a waste removal process during fasting periods. This diet can also help to protect the body against heart attack and cancer, mainly because of the benefits on metabolism.
Intermittent fasting is associated with the ineffective satisfaction of one’s appetite meaning that even though you will be physically full after eating, you will still be tempted to consume more food. This can cause overeating. You may be proud of yourself for being able to complete the fasting portion of this diet plan but you could also end up binging or overeating on non-fasting days. This will undo everything you are trying to achieve with this diet in terms of weight loss.
You will also be lacking in calories and this can cause headaches, low energy, and moodiness making you miserable. You do not need to feel irritable or lousy all the time especially when you are so busy trying to work and maintain your home and social life as well. Reduced energy levels experienced while on the intermittent fasting diet can cause lethargy and laziness in the course of the day and it can also reduce concentration levels. This can affect your ability to go about with day-to-day activities.
Little research has been done to determine whether intermittent is significantly effective in boosting the increase of concomitant muscle tissue, fat loss, and athletic performance. However, there is plenty of research indicating that exercising while fasting burns muscle mass to use as fuel meaning intermittent fasting can lead to reduced muscle mass.
If you do your training during the fasting window, you may put yourself at risk because your body will be lacking in calories and proteins thus you may not have the required energy and strength to train effectively.
The liver and the kidneys, which are the body’s primary detoxification organs, require energy in order to remove toxins effectively. Calories and fiber are required in order for toxins to be transformed into waste so they can be eliminated from the body. This is why it is important to consume calories and fiber in your diet to facilitate elimination of toxins from the body.
Injured athletes require plenty of nutrients in the diet to facilitate healing but intermittent fasting means that the important nutrients are not consumed and this can slow down the healing process.
Intermittent fasting creates a hypocaloric lifestyle meaning you will have a low calorie intake and this has its own risks. For this reason, you need to make sure you are consuming the right nutrients and sufficient calories when following this diet. Hunger poses a real issue while on the intermittent fasting diet and this can translate into stress. Increased stress levels of any kind in the body can advance inflammation. Restricting oneself to a particular eating method for a short period may also lead to yo-yo dieting while some people argue that intermittent fasting can cause eating disorders.
Intermittent fasting can also lead to hormonal imbalances particularly in people with active lifestyles and leaner individuals. Hormonal disruption can reduce testosterone levels in men and cause irregular menstrual cycles in women not to mention it can cause increased stress levels and insomnia in both genders.
If you have diabetes or are you need to monitor your blood sugar levels closely, intermittent fasting may prove to be challenging. This is because when you go for extended periods without eating anything, your body’s insulin production becomes adjusted and this affects how your body’s cells utilize glucose.
Intermittent fasting also has harmful effects on anyone with a health or life situation requiring consistent and adequate food intake i.e. the elderly, very young, breastfeeding, or pregnant individuals.In conclusion, intermittent fasting might be an effective way to regulate caloric intake and aid with weight loss, but it is not for everyone. It is important to confirm with your doctor if you have any medical condition or on any medication before going on a new diet plan.