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Pros and Cons: Intermittent Fasting

Pros and Cons: Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been a trend for years. However, there are still who don’t know what this is and what it does to the body. Simply put, intermittent fasting is a weight loss strategy that cycles around the idea of well, fasting, and eating. Contrary to other diets where the focus is on what you eat, an intermittent diet is more on when you eat.

According to Harvard Medical School, this fasting strategy can be achieved in several ways. Two of the most popular method is the 16:8 where you fast for 16 hours in a day and eat in the remaining 8 hours. Another one is the 24-hour fast which involves fasting for a whole day at least 1-2 times per week.

The theory that supports the said diet strategy is that fasting will aid in decreasing appetite by slowing the body’s metabolism. Of course, it is not to say that although it helps in weight reduction, it is automatically beneficial to the body without drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons that people should be prepared for if they wish to try an intermittent diet.

PROS of Intermittent Fasting

Weight Loss

Fasting in general means eating fewer meals. By doing so, an intermittent diet helps achieve a caloric deficit, resulting in weight loss. Several studies suggest that people who follow the fasting regimen lost weight and naturally led to eating less overall.

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Compared to other diets requiring a calorie count throughout the day, an intermittent diet is easier to follow. A study also found that irrespective of an individual’s body mass index (BMI), this diet strategy proved effective. In fact, there are no actual extreme differences compared to other diet methods out there that also promote weight loss.

Promotes Good Health

The majority of studies on intermittent diets point out the said strategy as a booster of good health. In research published in 2018, fasting reduces bad cholesterol or LDL and promotes the increase of HDL or good cholesterol levels in participants. Another study found that time-restricted diets are effective in combating inflammation related to chronic diseases.

According to Mark Mattson, professor of Neurology at John Hopkins University, neurogenesis in the brain increased due to fasting. This means that the growth and development of new nerve tissues and brain cells are accelerated by performing intermittent fasting.

Moreover, the challenges that fasting does to the brain forces the body to go into ketosis. A process that burns fat as a source of fuel in order to eliminate brain fog and boost overall energy.

Disease Prevention and Lower Disease Risk

Doctor with a stethoscope in his hands and a hospital background.

Fasting in general has already been found to trigger the regeneration of old cells within the body. By regenerating old cells, the body’s immune system is boosted and eventually becomes stronger. Thus having a better ability to fight of diseases. The more fasting burns fat, the more it will release toxins and improve the immune system’s ability to fight off illness.

As one continues to follow through with the time-restricted diet, the body’s clock will sync the food intake to your circadian rhythm. Basically what this would do is it will help process glucose better, thus eventually reducing your risk of diabetes, including insulin resistance. Pieces of evidence also show that intermittent fasting improves overall heart health and reduce the risk of acquiring heart-related diseases.

CONS of Intermittent Fasting

Reduce Physical Activity

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Like a car without fuel, as your body enters a state of food deprivation, its natural response is to run low on energy. Long periods of fasting deplete your blood sugar levels. This will leave you feeling lightheaded, dizzy, fatigued, and lethargic.

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Although some research yield results that these symptoms will get better over time as you go on with your fasting. However, if you’re a person that has a daily schedule full of physical activity, intermittent fasting is not for you.

Disordered Eating

Since an intermittent diet does not dictate you the type of food you eat during the hours of the feast, this can actually promote both binge eating and bulimia. In other words, if someone is not capable to control their urge to eat during the hours dedicated to eating, one might encourage overeating rather than weight loss.

The feeling of starvation during the fasting hours might trigger others to completely go on rogue. Thus eating foods high in fat, calories, sodium, sugar, and more that are actually unhealthy for the body. In order for intermittent fasting to be successful in achieving its goal, one must learn discipline.

Mood Swings

You are not you when you’re hungry. As mentioned earlier, prolonged fasting can lead to lightheadedness, fatigue, and lethargy. One experiencing these symptoms can’t simply stay sane. Since an intermittent diet puts you in a state where you don’t get enough food, this triggers a high-stress situation for the body. Causing you to feel more tired and moody than usual.

Those new to fasting might even suffer from hormonal imbalances and a decrease in hormonal function. For women, irregular menstrual cycles might occur. In the worst-case scenario, even fertility issues can occur. Insomnia, stress, and even thyroid problems can come out from intermittent diet.

If you’re really dedicated to your diet, you should research all available alternatives before committing yourself to a routine you might not be able to finish. There is no one-size-fits-all diet strategy when it comes to losing weight. If you want to really try out intermittent fasting, be sure to prepare yourself for the journey you’ll get yourself into.

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