Weight loss fads are inevitable. Every year someone comes up with a diet or a weight loss tip that’s supposed to be the end all be all of weight loss. As many articles as there are praising this miracle diet, there are just as many cursing it and accusing it of being a hoax. This is mainly because no diet works for everyone. This is especially true for intermittent fasting.
When I first read about intermittent fasting I was shocked, that a diet which includes restricting eating to certain hours of the day was growing in popularity. With the rising prevalence of eating disorders in this country, and around the world, I was surprised that people were being encouraged not to eat. It turns out though that intermediate fasting can have some surprising benefits. But that doesn’t mean that everyone should try it.
So how do you know if this new diet is the one that could finally help you lose weight and improve your overall health? It starts with analyzing you who are.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
First off, intermittent fasting isn’t so much a diet, as it is a different approach to eating. It requires that you only eat during specific windows of time. One common way to approach it is by eating for only 8 hours of the day, and fasting for the other 16. This is often adjusted in terms of start and end times depending on what fits your schedule best. Some eat for only 6 hours of the day, some even eat only four hours. For those of us that love breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this sounds upsetting. But the benefits can be numerous. They include:
- Eases weight loss
- Lowers risk of diabetes
- Improves heart health
- Improves brain health
- Reduces inflammation
So while the benefits may be numerous, why would someone instead choose to avoid intermediate fasting?
As easily as intermittent fasting can lead to health benefits in some, it can lead to complications in others such as
- Binge eating
- Decreased athletic performance
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight Gain
Who Should Try Intermittent Fasting
Essentially, when it comes to deciding whether or not this diet is right for you, it’s important to assess your own health and your own relationship with food. For instance, those who have had a binge eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, etc, should avoid intermittent fasting. This type of diet allows a person to have an unrestricted diet only during certain hours. For those who struggle with one of these disorders, this can lead to increased binge eating and a worsened relationship with food and eating.
For women, in particular, this type of fasting often leads to overeating during meal times. When you allow yourself to eat less, it can lead to more intense cravings for more calorie dense, unhealthy foods. Those with less self-control may also break the fast and binge eat during their fasting hours due to cravings or increased hunger.
It is also common to lose some muscle mass during a period of intermittent fasting. This is because during the fasting hours the body breaks down not only fat, but some muscle to use for energy.
Intermittent fasting is not the end-all-be-all of weight loss strategies, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. Before considering it, take some time to consider your own weight loss and health goals, as well as your relationship with food. As new year’s resolutions start to begin, you’re likely to hear more about it, but that doesn’t mean its the right answer for everyone.