Recently, intermittent fasting has become a popular way to lose weight quickly. It has been seen as relatively simple, but is it really the healthiest way to eat?
Most experts can agree that intermittent fasting is a restrictive diet that isn’t always easy to follow, but many people who are able to follow it report a number of benefits. With these considerations in mind, we explore this diet trend and look to help you answer the question, “Is intermittent fasting good for me?”
When someone fasts intermittently, they cycle through periods of fasting (or restricting food, drink, or both) and eating. For example, this diet may have you fast for 14 to 16 hours and limit your daily eating window to 8 to 10 hours. This generally means skipping the first meal of your day.
This can be a very effective way to lose weight — but why is that the case? According to Sue Ryskamp, a University of Michigan Medicine dietitian, our body’s insulin levels decrease when we don’t eat. When they get to a certain level for a long enough period of time, fat is burned. Most people also consume fewer calories on this diet plan in general, which is another boost to weight loss efforts.
Intermittent fasting has other benefits, too. Improved glucose control (which is helpful for those with diabetes), lower blood pressure, increased endurance, and more restful sleep are all side effects that people have experienced.
But, that doesn’t mean this type of restrictive diet is necessarily the right choice for everyone. There are also several downsides to intermittent fasting, and you should consider them carefully before committing to this diet.
In an article for Shape magazine, Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN writes, “Now's probably the time to be up-front: I am not a fan of intermittent fasting.”
While it may be a bold statement, it’s one that’s shared by a number of experts.
Like many other types of restrictive diets, the type of extreme fasting required in intermittent fasting can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. This is especially true if you become laser-focused on weight loss at the expense of your overall health and happiness. It can also be easy to gain all of that weight back once you stop the diet.
This is a personal question that you should discuss with your doctor or a qualified nutrition expert. If you do decide to give this diet a try, remember that structuring your fasting and eating periods around your lifestyle will help keep your energy levels up. Be sure to consider:
Remember, weight isn’t the only indicator of health. Living an active lifestyle, waking up feeling rested, eating a nutritious diet full of wholesome foods, and more are all indicators signs that you’re healthy.