Intermittent fasting seems to be the new trend swirling among society. Intermittent fasting is a predetermined period that an individual purposely doesn’t eat food. There are many different kinds of fasting techniques, just like there are many kinds of diets. From the 12-hour fast to the alternate day fasting, there are many kinds of fasts that are becoming increasingly popular. The thought behind intermittent fasting is that after the body is depleted of carbohydrates, it starts to burn fat around 12-24 hours after starvation so therefore starving the body of food for 12-24 hours will potentially lead to weight loss which can improve health. However, most of the studies done on this topic have been performed on animals over a short period and have measured glucose levels rather than long-term health outcomes. Many argue that intermittent fasting is not necessarily dangerous, but many also agree that intermittent fasting is not safe for everyone. So yes, it is possible to lose calories, fat and weight from this popular diet however it is also possible to just as quickly gain the weight back, develop low energy stores which can result in a depressed mood, problems sleeping and even organ damage if the fasting is extreme. The following are reasons why individuals should avoid intermittent fasting:
You should avoid fasting altogether if you have higher caloric needs
Individuals who are underweight, struggling with weight gain, under 18 years of age, pregnant or who are breastfeeding should not attempt an intermittent fasting diet, as they need sufficient calories on a daily basis for proper development.
You should avoid fasting altogether if you are at risk of an eating disorder
Intermittent fasting has a high association with bulimia nervosa, and as a result, individuals who are susceptible to an eating disorder should not undergo any diet associated with fasting. Risk factors for an eating disorder include having a family member with an eating disorder, perfectionism, impulsivity and mood instability.
You will most likely feel hungry, overeat, become dehydrated, feel tired and be irritable
Intermittent fasting is not for the faint of heart, meaning that even if you are not underweight, you are over 18 years of age, you are not predisposed to an eating disorder, and you are not pregnant or breastfeeding you will most likely have some unwanted side effects.
- You will most likely notice your stomach is grumbling during fasting periods, primarily if you are used to constant grazing throughout the day. To avoid these hunger pains during fasting periods, avoid looking at, smelling, or even thinking about food, which can trigger the release of gastric acid into your stomach and make you feel hungry.
- Non-fasting days are not days when you can splurge on whatever you want as this can lead to weight gain. Fasting may also lead to an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, which may lead to even more food cravings. Keep in mind that overeating and binge eating are two common side effects of intermittent fasting.
- Intermittent fasting is sometimes associated with dehydration because when you do not eat, sometimes you forget to drink, so it is essential to actively stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking, on average, three liters of water.
- You will most likely feel tired because your body is running on less energy than usual, and since fasting can boost stress levels, it can also disrupt your sleep patterns. Therefore it is crucial to adopt a healthy, regular sleep pattern and stick to it so you can feel rested on an everyday basis.
- The same biochemistry that regulates mood also regulates appetite with nutrient consumption affecting the activity of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which play a role in anxiety and depression.
- That means deregulating your appetite may do the same to your mood and therefore you will most likely feel irritable on occasions when you are fasting.
- The last piece of advice for individuals who are interested in an intermittent fasting diet it limits your alcohol intake only during eating periods. Do not drink alcohol during or immediately after fasting and even if you drink during your eating periods, keep in mind that drinking alcohol means that you are displacing your opportunity for adequate nutrition.