Intermittent fasting is a system that will allow you to eat whatever you want, in any quantity you want, during specific periods of time and on specific days. At other times, you will have to fast or limit the amount of food you eat.
Some individuals who follow an intermittent fasting regimen eat whatever they want five days per week and restrict their food intake the other two days. Another approach is to eat all meals within a specific window of time and fast for a period of 14 to 16 hours each day.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Many proponents of intermittent fasting like its simplicity. Since it focuses on when you eat, not what you eat, you won’t have to count calories, limit the amount of carbohydrates or fat you consume, eliminate your favorite foods or eat more vegetables.
Some studies have found that intermittent fasting can be helpful for people who want to lose weight, manage their blood sugar, improve their cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and lower their risk of developing some chronic illnesses. Other studies found little or no benefit when they compared intermittent fasting to other types of diets. Some people who followed intermittent fasting and lost weight ended up losing mostly muscle rather than fat. More research is needed to determine how much of an impact intermittent fasting may have on health and how long those benefits may last.
Downsides of Intermittent Fasting
Not being allowed to eat at certain times can be challenging. People who follow intermittent fasting are often tired and irritable when hungry, especially if they’re around people who are free to eat regular meals and snacks. Intermittent fasting can also lead to heartburn, constipation, dehydration, anemia and trouble sleeping. Many people have trouble sticking with the plan for these reasons.
Another problem with intermittent fasting is that it limits eating to certain times but doesn’t encourage healthy eating patterns. If you try intermittent fasting, you may consume large amounts of unhealthy foods and may not get the nutrients you need for good health. You may also overeat after a period of fasting or stuff yourself to prepare for an upcoming period when you won’t be permitted to eat.
Talk to Your Doctor
Studies that investigated the effects of intermittent fasting have had mixed findings. Also, most of those investigations were conducted in recent years and didn’t assess the long-term effects of this strategy. As with any diet, individual factors can affect one’s outcomes. Before you begin intermittent fasting or make any other changes to your diet, speak with your doctor about your current health and goals. This is particularly important if you have a chronic medical condition such as cardiovascular, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, or if you take any type of medication regularly.