Intermittent Fasting: Is It Easy Or Even Safe?

These days, in addition to the usual flood of trendy fad diets or celebrity-endorsed weight loss products, intermittent fasting has once again become a topic of debate. You see, this concept has been around for over a decade but seems to be making a comeback. There has been a long-standing debate amongst experts regarding the safety and efficacy of this restrictive eating practice, and that is what we are going to discuss today.

We will talk about what is involved in intermittent fasting for weight loss and some of the reasons why certain experts feel it can benefit your health. We will also offer the opposing viewpoint that it can ultimately lead to unhealthy behavior or even weight gain.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Intermittent fasting is a way of eating where you take scheduled breaks from eating food during certain times during the day or the week. Some of the common ways this is done include:

Every Other Day (Alternate-day)
This is a schedule where you eat normally on one day and then you eat a very restricted diet the next day or you do not eat at all.
Five And Two
On this intermittent fasting schedule, you eat normally for five days, and then the other two days you fast completely or eat very little.
Time-Restricted Fasting
You eat within the confines of a set schedule and during a specific time frame you can eat, and then you fast for the remainder of the day. One of the most popular versions of this technique is to eat only between noon and 8:00 p.m. and abstain from food the remainder of the day and until noon the next day.

What Can You Have While Fasting?

During the periods you are intermittently fasting, you are allowed to drink water, plain tea, black coffee, and other beverages that have zero calories.

Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy?

This is where the controversy comes in; there are alternate opinions within the scientific community. Here are some of the concerns related to intermittent fasting for weight loss.

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

Some have concerns that practicing intermittent fasting may be harmful if continued for long periods of time or carried out in extreme ways. The concern is that it could disrupt the normal balance of hormone levels, cause nutritional deficiencies, or have adverse effects on the metabolism. For some people, fasting may cause health concerns, such as individuals who have diabetes type 1 or women who are pregnant or nursing. It is recommended that you work with a doctor when considering intermittent fasting.

Is Intermittent Fasting For Women Different Than For Men?

There are conflicting opinions about this subject, as some experts believe that it may be more beneficial for men than women. In fact, a 2005 study aimed to demonstrate the effects of alternate-day fasting on men and women who were not obese. The results were surprising as they showed that men experienced no changes in their glucose levels but showed a significantly lower insulin response, however, the women showed no changes in their insulin response but their glucose levels became impaired.

Conversely, other studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help obese women improve their metabolic condition, hormone levels, and fertility. However, restricting the caloric intake of very active women who are of a healthy weight, through fasting can adversely affect their fertility and daily performance.

Is Intermittent Fasting Sustainable?

Some individuals have had success with intermittent fasting, but most of the research that has been done was focused on short-term results. The long-term effects or sustainability for humans have not been studied in detail, so they are unknown.

Can Intermittent Fasting Cause Eating Disorders?

Some experts believe that the restrictive nature of intermittent fasting can lead to binge eating or other unhealthy eating patterns. While this may be an extreme case and a potentially volatile situation for those who have struggled with these disorders in the past, it raises a concern worth considering. One example given by one critic was that while practicing intermittent fasting, the individual becomes so hungry during the hours they are not allowed to eat that when they can finally eat, they binge and overeat, which can become an unhealthy pattern.

What Do Some Dieticians Say About Skipping Meals?

According to an article in EatingWell, nothing good comes from skipping a meal. (They are talking about a healthy meal) In fact, it can have an adverse effect on your body, including:

  • It can cause anxiety;
  • You have no energy;
  • Your hormones, which signal hunger and satiety, become impaired;
  • You experience severe food cravings;
  • You can become nutritionally deficient;
  • Your digestive system can become unstable;
  • You can increase your risk of developing an eating disorder;
  • Eating can become a chore instead of enjoyable.

Depriving your body of food for extended periods of time can backfire on your weight loss efforts or could even be dangerous. Your metabolism may slow down to compensate for the lack of incoming calories to make sure you do not starve and hinder your weight loss efforts. Some individuals may not be able to tolerate the fasting periods and get weak, shaky, or dizzy.

What Are The Presumed Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting?

Much of the research that has been conducted related to intermittent fasting has been done on mice because their DNA closely matches that of humans. More long-term research using humans is needed to determine if the benefits of intermittent fasting are superior to those gained by consistently eating a healthy diet and limiting caloric intake. Some of the benefits claimed by proponents of intermittent fasting include:

  • Weight loss;
  • Metabolic improvements such as insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, etc. ;
  • Improvements in conditions such as diabetes type 2;
  • Enhanced speed of cell turnover and repair, which inhibits the onset of age-related disease;
  • Better cognitive functioning;
  • Reducing inflammation;
  • Promotes a better hormone balance.

Does Intermittent Fasting Work Better Than Reducing Calorie Intake Every Day?

A report published in 2015 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal posed the theory that it wasn’t so much the fasting that provided the health benefits but simply the result of the overall reduction in calorie consumption. It went on to say that individuals should aim to lower the number of calories they consume instead of focusing on when the calories are being consumed.

Also, it mentioned that fasting for two days a week and limiting what you eat the other five days will result in weight loss, but probably not any more efficiently than cutting your calorie intake every day for the entire week.

What Can You Do Instead Of Intermittent Fasting To Lose Weight?

If you need help with weight loss, the best thing you can do for yourself is seek professional help from a qualified weight loss doctor like Dr. Steven Batash. A doctor who understands the nuances of obesity and weight loss is an invaluable resource because they have the knowledge and expertise to identify the things that have been hindering your weight loss efforts. They have the tools and strategies needed to get you back on track to reach your ideal weight.

At Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center, we can help you lose weight, whether you have 10 pounds, 100 pounds, or more you want to shed. We offer non-surgical weight loss procedures, prescription weight loss medication, and a superior support network to help you get to where you need to be to improve your health. Set up your appointment today to talk about your personalized plan and how we can help you.

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