Is intermittent fasting healthy?
Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic as a result of the abundance of unhealthy food options and the lack of physical activity.
As a result, people are looking for strategies to minimize being overweight and live a better lifestyle through physical activity, a well-balanced diet, and intermittent fasting.
In this post, we’ll go through the various types of intermittent fasting, their benefits, and potential adverse effects in depth.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern in which you alternate between periods of eating and fasting for a few hours to a day or longer.
Intermittent fasting is usually used to lose weight without forbidden foods or calorie restrictions all the time.
People use intermittent fasting for weight loss in a variety of ways, the most common of which are:
Time-Restricted or 16:8
The 16/8 approach, which involves eating just within an eight-hour window and skipping breakfast, is used by the majority of people who try intermittent fasting.
For example, many people who follow the 16/8 method will only eat between 12 and 7 p.m. and then restart at 11 a.m. the next day.
Modified-Calorie or 5:2
This plan involves eating normally for five days of the week (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or two meals and a few snacks) and then fasting for two days, which can be consecutive or spaced out. Women can eat up to 500 calories on fasting days (for men, 600).
Alternate-Day Fasting (ADF)
You alternate one day of normal caloric intake with another day of calorie restriction of 500 calories for women and 600 calories for males.
Some people conduct a 24-hour fast, which is not eating or drinking for 24 hours on one day of the week or month.
While eating habits differ from person to person, the diet works best when you stop eating at a set time of day and avoid eating at night.
That means no snacking between meals or before going to bed.
Remember that all fasting programs allow for water, unsweetened/milk-free tea, and coffee throughout the fasting periods.
Is intermittent fasting healthy?
Intermittent fasting is usually thought to be healthy as long as you eat a balanced diet and appropriately feed your body during the scheduled eating hours.
In general, the following are some of the benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Weight Loss
- Intermittent fasting aids weight loss by compressing the times of day when you consume foods, allowing for a considerable resting period with no calories in between.
- When you stop eating for a prolonged amount of time (during fasting), your body still needs energy, so it eventually has a chance to burn those stored carbohydrates, and when those are depleted, it switches to burning stored fat. As a result, fat is lost and body weight is reduced.
- Longer Life and Healthy Aging
- Fasting, which leads to calorie restriction, has also been found in studies to increase the longevity of even healthy people by kicking, starting the biological process known as autophagy, which is the breakdown and removal of damaged cells and cellular material in your body. Because of differences in metabolism and lifestyle, the period of fasting required to induce autophagy varies from person to person.
- Autophagy can begin as early as eight hours into a fast for some people, while it may take as long as 16 or 18 hours for others. Better muscular performance, more vitality, and healthier skin and hair are all possible outcomes of this process.
- More Efficient Metabolism
Fasting for a brief time appears to create ketone bodies, which are formed when the body does not have enough sugar for energy and instead breaks down stored fat.
- Fasting also has an impact on metabolic processes in the body. These mechanisms elicit a variety of responses, which result in the following:
- Decreased inflammation,
- Improved blood sugar regulation,
- Better response to physical stress.
- Several studies have found that intermittent fasting improves the body’s resistance to oxidative stress.
- In addition, during fasting, the levels of human growth hormone (HGH) in the blood increased significantly. This helps with fat-burning and muscle growth, among other things.
- Improved Alertness and benefits for your brain
- Fasting has been linked to enhanced cognitive function, learning, memory, and attentiveness in studies. Fasting helps to protect healthy brain cells by lowering oxidative stress and increasing their stress tolerance.
- Fasting also increases levels of a hormone in the brain known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Depression and other mental disorders have been related to BDNF deficiency.
- Intermittent fasting and diabetes
Because of its substantial benefits for insulin resistance, intermittent fasting may help prevent or even treat diabetes. Fasting can assist in enhancing insulin sensitivity by lowering insulin and glucose levels in the blood, resulting in improved metabolic performance and fat burning.
- Lower cholesterol, reduce liver fat and improve blood pressure, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
Risks of Intermittent Fasting
While intermittent fasting can make you feel better and enhance your health, health experts believe that it is not always safe. Moreover, many agree that intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Here are a few examples of why intermittent fasting might be harmful.
1. Disordered Eating Habits and Overeating
- Restricting when you can eat rather than just eating when you’re hungry may lead to a negative relationship with food, especially if you’ve suffered from an eating problem.
- Overeating and binge eating are two common side effects of intermittent fasting. Some people struggle to keep their calorie intake under control. If you find yourself overeating or bingeing throughout your eating times, fasting may not be the best solution for you. If you want to lose weight, you should limit your daily calorie intake to 500.
2. Schedule Challenges
Work responsibilities and real life may not often cooperate with intermittent fasting, making it difficult to maintain. Traveling for work or pleasure can also disrupt your eating habits, leaving you hungry at inconvenient times.
3. Metabolic Slowdown
Fasting may also cause a rise in the stress hormone cortisol. Studies indicate that limiting calories for too long or not eating enough may tempt your body into protecting its energy resources.
Some people who try intermittent fasting could experience digestive issues, such as constipation, as a result of eating less food.
Dry fasting, which restricts both fluid and food consumption, is harmful since it can produce severe dehydration and pose major health risks. Caloric restriction carried too far might result in malnutrition.
4. Medical conditions
- If you have higher caloric demands, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as those who are underweight, suffering from weight gain, or under the age of 18, avoid intermittent fasting diets since they require enough calories daily for proper growth.
- People with brittle diabetes, as well as those with a history of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, should only be fasting under the supervision of a specialist.
In recent years, people across the world have been more interested in weight reduction programs like intermittent fasting, which can help you lose weight, improve your health, and possibly protect you from acquiring certain diseases.
It should be emphasized, however, that intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone. Before attempting intermittent fasting, consult a nutritionist or your doctor if you have any special dietary difficulties or health concerns.