Intermittent fasting is a hot topic in the nutrition world right now. This type of dieting has been around for centuries, but it seems to be gaining popularity recently as more and more people are switching to this way of eating.
Proponents of IF claim that it can help with weight loss and improve health overall. But is IF right for everyone? Is there a danger of doing too much fasting? Let’s take a look at intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you choose when to eat (sometimes what to eat) and how much. There are many types of intermittent fasts, but they all have one thing in common: periods without food for hours followed by brief consumption during a specific period.
Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting methods are not without their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss.
1. Improve brain health
Fasting increases neurogenesis rate, a process responsible for “the growth and development of new brain cells and nerve tissues,” says Dr. Mark Mattson, professor, Neurology at John Hopkins University. This, in turn, increases brain performance, mood, focus, and memory.
2. Reduces inflammation in the body
Intermittent fasting helps you reduce inflammation to prevent many chronic diseases. There are many ways this works to control symptoms in lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, etc.
2. Weight loss
Intermittent fasting may be the key to weight loss. It lowers your insulin levels (insulin insensitivity), and you will break down carbohydrates and release energy stored as stubborn fat cells.
1. Headache and dizziness
Headaches are not uncommon when starting an intermittent fasting protocol. The pain typically begins in the frontal region and can be mild or moderate, depending on where it is located. The follower may also feel bouts of nausea and dizziness.
2. Gastronomic Issues
Intermittent fasting might be great for your mood, but it’s not so good when you’re trying to avoid digestive issues. The reduced food intake can lead not just to constipation or other side effects like nausea and bloating; changes in diet will make things much worse.
3. Feeling low energy levels
A 2017 study reported that some people who practice intermittent fasting feel fatigued and have low energy levels while on IF. These symptoms are typically caused by a lack of blood sugar, which can lead to tiredness during the day and cause sleep disturbances.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are different types of intermittent fasting; we will discuss 5 of them below.
1. 16:8 Fasting
The 16:8 method includes fasting for 16 hours and eating your normal food in the remaining 8 hours. So you have a clean break from overeating at night or in between meals during the day while still following what’s healthy. However, only 14 hours are recommended for women on this type of IF.
Is 16:8 IF for everyone?
Any adult can follow 16:8 IF, but people on medication with mental health history (such as depression and anxiety), eating disorders, and underlying comorbidities such as diabetes and low blood pressure should stay away.
2. 18:6 Fasting
18:6 intermittent fasting is when you eat all your meals during a 6-hour window and fast for the rest of the hours. For instance, you can eat in the 12 to 6 PM window, so that allows 18 hours without food, but with the bonus of choosing what is best for you. Check more information for results to inspire this type of diet.
Is 18:6 IF for everyone?
Yes, it is but not for people suffering from chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, liver diseases, kidney diseases, etc. Even expecting and nursing women should not do it with those who have bad eating habits (recognized).
3. 20:4 Fasting
The 20:4 fasting method is also known as the ‘Warrior Fast.’ You observe fast for 20 hours and eat in the 4-hour window. The followers are allowed to consume anything during these late eating hours; however, the original warrior diet included a high protein and high-fiber diet only.
Is 20:4 IF for everyone?
Underweight, expectant, Type-1 diabetes, cardiac diseases, underweight adults, children, and extreme athletes are the groups asked to stay away from the 20:4 diet.
4. 5:2 Fasting
The 5:2 diet is a popular IF method that allows you to eat normally for five days and then restrict calories on the two remaining days. During these periods, a woman’s intake should be 500 kcal while males can get 600 kcal every day, which works out at around 1/4th of your average daily energy need.
Is 5:2 fasting for everyone?
Any healthy person can follow the regime; however, pregnant and breastfeeding women, children aged 18 and below, diabetic and high BP patients, and people suffering from eating disorders are not the right groups.
5. Eat Stop Eat
Choose two days out of 7 for fasting. Fast from dinner one day to dinner the next day. You may drink water, tea, or coffee but no calorie-added drinks like those sugary beverages. Also, you can start by fasting for 14 – 16 hours and then gradually work your way up to 24.
Is Eat Stop Eat IF for everyone?
No, pregnancy, disordered eating, and diabetes are some conditions that are not conducive to the Eat Stop Eat intermittent fasting method.
To sum up!
Intermittent fasting is becoming an increasingly popular way to lose weight and improve overall health, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering trying intermittent fasting, be sure to speak with a healthcare professional to see if it’s the right choice. Thanks for reading!