The obesity epidemic plaguing the world has given birth to a gamut of weight loss schemes. One of the most popular weight reduction and fat loss strategies today, as seen in viral articles and online influencer postings, is intermittent fasting or IF. This eating plan helps jump-start weight loss and boosts the metabolism by imposing strict intervals of zero food intake with periods of healthy eating.
Many people who’ve reaped the benefits of doing their fasts say that this method has helped them lose and maintain their current weight. The results of IF are also much faster than traditional diets, inspiring dieters to continue their fasting regimens. Some even attest that this diet plan could help reduce heart disease risk and fight inflammation.
However, some doubt the word “fasting” because staying hungry for extended periods doesn’t have a positive connotation and could have adverse health impacts like stomach hyperacidity or low blood sugar for people with diabetes. Some say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it serves as fuel, so an IF plan goes against traditional beliefs. To illustrate, students may need more energy to finish the day and resort to essay writing online from Studyfy for their homework. With so many conflicting views, it’s essential to know the nuances of intermittent by learning its pros and cons.
Intermittent fasting is a method of eating that cycles between not eating and consuming regular food. This lives up to its name by allowing individuals to switch between “fasting mode” and an “eating window” using a schedule. Different fasting schedules include 12 hours, 16 hours, and 24 hours (or one meal a day). But the most popular IF plan is the 16/8, which means not eating for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours.
Some proponents of IF say this is not a diet but a lifestyle because, unlike other plans that focus on what people eat, this focuses on WHEN people put food in their mouths. The time people eat and how frequently they eat are said to make a difference in energy consumption and the burning of stored fats. During fasting, the body goes into fat-burning mode and consumes all glycogen or sugar stores. After depleting sugar, the body goes into ketosis and burns stored fats, resulting in weight loss and improved health.
A primary benefit of intermittent fasting is that it’s straightforward to do. People don’t have to keep track of calories, fat grams, and other nutrients each time they eat. This eating plan is very doable and can easily fit into anyone’s lifestyle, so vegetarians, pescetarians, or omnivores can also readily adopt this method.
Many studies show that IF has helped people achieve their weight loss goals and eventually maintain a healthy weight. Of course, this also means choosing healthier options during the eating window, as this period is not a license for anyone to eat what they want. The amount of calories people consume still plays an integral part in losing weight, and the goal is always to create a caloric deficit.
Apart from weight loss, intermittent fasting has a broad range of health benefits for holistic health. Check them out below:
- Lower bad cholesterol levels
- Promote healthy blood pressure readings
- Improved blood sugar due to ketosis
- Boosted metabolism
- Better brain health and improved mood
- Less inflammation in the body
- Fewer age-related diseases
Although intermittent fasting is very promising, with many success stories, it is unsuitable for everyone. Those considering this eating method must first discuss their plans with their physician. Severely limiting calories by skipping meals could be life-threatening for people with diabetes as it affects blood sugar levels which could spiral into diabetic shock.
Moreover, fasting could result in electrolyte imbalances. Consequently, this may also adversely impact people who take blood pressure medication or those with kidney problems and heart disease. Most doctors recommend that the following people be cautious of starting IF without prior consultation:
- Seniors beyond 65 years old
- Growing kids, including teens and young adults
- People with heart, liver, or kidney disease
- Patients with a history of disordered eating
- Breastfeeding moms or even pregnant moms
- Those with low blood pressure
- Those taking medications like diuretics, blood thinners, blood sugar medications, and blood pressure prescriptions
Another important consideration is the world is now full of temptation, so it may be difficult to sustain this restrictive eating plan for the long haul. Individuals must have strong willpower and self-control to fight potential low-energy days, change habits, and curb cravings. Those who implement this diet need a reliable support system to consistently endure fasting for many days. This diet could even impact a person’s social life because many human interactions occur over food and drinks, so breakfast meetings or brunches may fly out the window.
Intermittent fasting is great for people who wish to lose weight. The body is designed to sustain itself without food for many hours or days. This is proven by prehistoric ancestors who were nomads that foraged for food and could go for long periods of starvation. It’s water that human beings cannot go long without, not food.
However, it is also crucial to note that, unlike olden ancestors who were active, most people in the modern world have a sedentary lifestyle. They sit for long hours in the office and enjoy relaxing in bed while streaming movies. And today’s diet shifted from healthy whole grains and lean proteins to calorie-ladened processed foods with poor nutrition density. Hence, it is easy for humans to gain weight if they persist with these habits.
Fortunately, intermittent fasting is a safe way for most people to avoid eating excess calories and attain optimal health. However, it is vital for people who intend to start their fasts to consult with their doctors first, especially if they have preexisting conditions. Professionals could help design an intermittent fasting program and help with meal planning for optimal results. After all, healthy choices matter as “abs” are made in the kitchen.
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website's content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra's expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.