Is Intermittent Fasting For You?

Is Intermittent Fasting For You?

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You have probably always been told that skipping meals is a no-no, but what if we told you that the newest health trend involves changing your eating patterns and altering when you eat, not what you eat?

Intermittent fasting is commonly used to combat heart disease, inflammation, blood pressure, and to aid in weight loss. It is based on the concept that our bodies are more efficient at burning fat and regulating biological processes when in the fasted state. Every time you consume a meal, your body enters the fed (digestion) phase for approximately 3 hours. Typically, this fed state requires high levels of insulin, which is a hormone that promotes fat storage. Once your body is no longer absorbing nutrients from your previous meals, insulin levels decrease and it can start burning fat more efficiently. The peak of fat burning usually occurs 12 hours after your last meal. For this reason, intermittent fasting has been recommended as a weight loss approach, and this is why so many of us lose weight during Ramadan, even though what we eat might be subpar!

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Daily: A daily intermittent fasting routine involves 16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of eating. You can choose when you want your fasting period to be, and you can eat whatever you want during your 8 hour eating period.
Weekly: A 24-hour fast once per week where you only drink water.
Alternate Day Fasting: This involves 24-hour fasts on alternate days throughout your week, similar to the weekly fasts but done 3 times per week instead of just once.
The 5:2 Diet: You eat what you want for 5 days of the week followed by 2 days of strict 500 calories per day. Read more about it here.

What’s The Catch?
If weight loss is what you’re after, you will lose weight on an intermittent fasting eating schedule, but restricting your food intake over such a large period of time has some cons too.

The idea that you can eat whatever your cravings tell you to reach for without worrying about it during the feeding period can have some undesirable effects on your health. Since you are only eating 2-3 meals per day you can have McDonalds every day and still lose weight, but intermittent fasting won’t save you from the high cholesterol, lethargy, and bad skin and so much more that is related to eating unhealthy food.

Another issue that you need to be aware of if you are considering intermittent fasting is sustainability. Our bodies learn to adapt to what we get them used to. If you follow a strict intermittent fasting schedule for one month and then decide to go back to your normal eating habits, you will store fat even quicker than when you lost it. It’s important to listen to your body if you do decide to try it, as there are several different ways mentioned above that can cater to different individuals’ biological make-up. Focus more on what your body’s telling you during the dietary adjustment than seeing gains or goals. This will help you recognize what’s best for you and will help you sustain in the long-run. It’s also a good idea to consult with a doctor or certified nutritionist and consider getting blood work done before starting, to be able to compare internal effects and results as you proceed.

If you have any nutrient deficiencies or suffer from dizziness or headaches, intermittent fasting is not for you. What are your experiences with intermittent fasting? Share them with us below!

Donia Hilal is a certified nutritionist with a degree in Nutrition from King’s College London. Her work focuses on women’s health in the Middle East, wellness, weight loss, and optimal pre- and post-natal nutrition. Passionate about real food and evidence based nutrition advice, Donia welcomes and enjoys guiding clients throughout every stage of their journey towards a healthier, happier life.

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