Intermittent fasting has been a trending diet for quite some time now, sparking plenty of chatter online. Most times, this diet promises weight loss, a longer life, and better health overall, but there are always pros and cons to these ‘quick fix’ diets. So, is intermittent fasting a good idea?
Let’s find out.
What is intermittent fasting exactly?
Some might argue that intermittent fasting isn’t a diet, but rather a pattern of eating. It’s all about when you eat, not what you eat. However, the purpose of this is to still consume fewer calories than your body burns – just like most diets.
Unlike other diets, though, intermittent fasting slows the metabolism down, rather than speeding it up – or so the theory goes.
There are various eating patterns that you can opt to follow. Some block out hours that you may not eat, while others block out certain days of the week. The most popular formats include the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window, and the 5:2 approach, involving regular eating for 5 days and reducing calorie intake for 2 days.
What does the science say?
If you’re like me and need some form of scientific research to back up the so-called health benefits of this diet, here you go:
According to Medical News Today and Harvard Health, intermittent fasting grew as a result of a growing body of research that eating for lengthy periods can lead to a few problems. Most notably an increased risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease.
The idea of intermittent fasting is to increase the time between meals so our insulin levels can go down. This allows our cells to release any stored fat and sugar to use as energy, rather than the food we consume.
So, that means, no more snacking!
As sad as it is to say goodbye to midnight snacks and midday munchies, there are a few benefits that might make it worth it.
- Weight loss: The biggest benefit to this pattern of eating is weight loss. Many have claimed that by adopting fasting in some way or another, they’ve quickly shed the extra kgs.
- Better metabolic health: Research suggests that intermittent fasting can improve metabolic health, potentially reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Brain boost: Studies indicate that intermittent fasting may enhance brain health and could even potentially delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
- Heart health hero: By influencing factors like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammatory markers, intermittent fasting might be a friend to your heart.
- It’s flexible: Many find intermittent fasting easy to incorporate into their daily routine compared to traditional diets.
I wish I could tell you that this is the diet or eating plan that’s going to solve all your problems. It’s not. Like most things, there are a few things you must consider before taking on intermittent fasting.
- Hunger pangs and mood swings: The adjustment period can be tough. Hunger and irritability are common when you start fasting.
- Potential nutrient deficiency: If not planned properly, you might miss out on essential nutrients.
- Social and lifestyle challenges: Fasting schedules can sometimes clash with social eating events.
- Overemphasis on timing: There’s a risk of focusing too much on the clock and not enough on the quality of food consumed.
- Not for everyone: Intermittent fasting can be risky for certain groups, including pregnant women, those with a history of eating disorders, and individuals with certain health conditions, particularly diabetes.
- Can mess with your meds: Depending on the medications you take, changing when and how often you eat may trigger a few negative side effects. Check with your doctor to make sure this diet won’t cause any problems.
So, is it a good idea?
Simply, yes. If done right, intermittent fasting is a good idea. Its benefits go beyond just weight loss, allowing you to live a far healthier life. However, like any diet, you should proceed with caution and make sure you listen to your body.
Eating this way isn’t for everyone, and you may need to check in with your doctor to make sure it’s the diet for you.
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