Intermittent fasting, or IF, is growing in popularity among bloggers, fitness gurus, and YouTubers primarily for weight loss and repopulating good gut bacteria. Fasting, when done correctly, gives your overworked gut a break. And it’s a little bit like a ‘reboot’ for your digestive system.
But before you decide if intermittent fasting is for you, better read this article first.
To start, if you have problems with low blood sugar levels or suffer with diabetes, please don’t even consider Intermittent Fasting [IF] without first consulting your doctor!
I mean it: talk to them first. We don’t want you to faint on us. Imagine! Crossing the road or driving…and fainting. Oh no! 😯
So, moving right along, on one hand, yes, if you fast [as in, you don’t eat anything] you can lose more weight than if you eat too much. No big secrets there.
But researchers propose that during fasting, other mechanisms may also be at work which could help to improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
FACT: Intermittent fasting (IF) has some good points and some not so good points. And the most annoying part is, the results will vary from person to person.
What might be beneficial for you, may not be so beneficial for me.
You probably know that if you drastically cut calories on an ongoing basis, it’ll cause your metabolism to go into slow mode.
What does that really mean?
To preserve your fat reserves, your body will lower its fat burning speed to that of a sloth [Besides myself, sloths officially have the slowest metabolism of any animal on Earth]
Like last year you may have eaten 1700 calories to stay the weight you were. But this year, eating the very same amount of calories, you may start gaining body fat.
And that’s what happens when your metabolism slows.
Scientists explain this phenomena like this: humans had to confront frequent periods of undernutrition. No supermarkets anywhere where you could go and stock up on your food …Thus our bodies adapted to these periods of ‘no food coming in’ by turning down their energy requirements and surviving on way less food and calories.
And when you do intermittent fasting the wrong way, you could end up with a similar thing. You’ll activate the starvation response and turn down your metabolic rate. And when you start eating normally, you simply put your weight back on. Sometimes faster than you can type Intermittent Fasting.
In addition, during fasting, some people’s blood sugar levels drop so low, they faint. Or, due to monster hunger, when the fast stops, they start eating way more than they would have done following a standard eating pattern.
But intermittent fasting could be done in a more sane way.
And here are the main three methods that are being recommended. Some are better than others.
The 16/8 method:
This one is also known as a “lean gains” method. In this method, you’re given an eight-hour window to eat your meals; for the next 16 hours however, you don’t eat anything. You’re allowed water, black coffee, natural juices and green veggie smoothie to keep you going.
You can easily set your timings according to your routine. For example, you would start eating at 11:00 a.m. and then stop at 7:00 p.m., then you’d fast until the next day at 11:00 a.m. This is the most common method, because it fits in easily with most people’s current routines. This is my favourite option, because you can ensure you get your nutrient requirements covered. Use a well-balanced dietary plan, and never skip meals. Just eat three healthy meals within a shorter time frame.
Eat- Stop- Eat:
The eat-stop-eat method is one of the most difficult. It most closely resembles a weekly body cleanse or detox, as opposed to an eating pattern. In this method, you fast for 24 consecutive hours once or twice a week. You’re allowed low-calorie drinks to help you get through your day.
Individuals may opt for this method if their routine or strenuous work hours don’t allow them to use the 16/8 method. They may intermittently fast on the weekends or on a day off throughout the week. I am actually NOT a big fan of this one. This method can play havoc with blood sugar levels, your nutrient levels and people can become weak. And often when they start eating the next day, they end up consuming too many calories. So basically, it would have been a big waste of time, if weight loss was the goal.
The 5:2 diet:
In the 5:2 method, you consume only 500 to 600 calories for two consecutive days. It is also known as “The Fast Diet.” Often bloggers say that there are no requirements about what you can or cannot eat. You can eat a 600-calorie burger and be done with it, or you can eat more low-calorie foods throughout the day; how you stay within your 600-calorie limit is up to you. And this to me is just plain silly. After all: our health is so important. And if you don’t hit your daily nutrient levels, plus you eat junk food instead, …what sort of crazy plan is this? We should always attempt to eat the very best quality nutrients, albeit sometimes less. If you adhere to eating healthy whole foods during the 600 calorie fasting period, then this could be beneficial. The hamburger idea will not be. Don’t do it.
Why Intermittent Fasting?
People commit to intermittent fasting because they want to experience rapid, visible results; and they hope to get a host of other health benefits that are written about by others, such as:
- Quicker, easier, and more convenient weight loss
- Reduced risk of illnesses and diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, stress and inflammation in the body
- Better brain support
- Increased metabolism
- Improved body health similar to results from a cleanse or detox
But will YOU experience the same benefits? Or will this simply be another fad which doesn’t help you to retrain your eating habits? Aren’t you looking for a more sustainable healthy way of eating that doesn’t compromise your nutrient levels?
Then perhaps copy what I do: once or twice a week I go without breakfast and have herbal teas until lunch time. I have not noticed any HUGE cathartic improvements in my health. Probably because I’m feeling good even without this system. But I know I’m doing something good for my digestion.
As with any change to diet or eating habits, always consult a physician or nutritionist, but especially before embarking on intermittent fasting.
Yours in health and wellness,