I already know in writing this post, that it’s going to be controversial, but hey I’m just sharing my perspective like everyone else.
So first of all, you might be asking, what the heck is intermittent fasting? According to healthline.com article “What is Intermittent Fasting? Explained in Human Terms,” Intermittent fasting is “an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.” There are a variety of different forms of intermittent fasting, some of the more popular ones being:
– The 16/8 method: Fasting for 16 hours a day, eating for 8
– Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, fasting for 24 hours
– The 5:2 diet: During 2 days of the week eat only 500-600 calories
(“What is Intermittent Fasting? Explained in Human Terms”)
Personally, I just really don’t understand how this is a healthy way to treat your body. To me, its equivalent to a juice cleanse or any other fad diet. As someone who has worked so incredibly hard to relearn their hunger cues, to trust their hunger cues instead of ignoring them, I found the notion explained below to be pretty despicable:
“One of the key advantages of this extreme form of caloric control is that it allows people to re-conceptualize hunger. Instead of linking “hunger” with “panic” or even “desire” (Ganley 1989), “hunger” can theoretically be newly associated with “success” or “pride”, or simply ignored.” – “The Scientific Evidence Surrounding Intermittent Fasting,” Amber Simmons, PhD
Hunger should not equate success or pride. That right there is one of the main errors I had in my thought process when I was in the depths of my eating disorder. I was thrilled to feel hungry, proud that I was able to survive on nothing. But that is SO wrong. Food is something your body needs! Even when trying to lose weight your body requires energy, probably not as much as you had been giving it previously, but it still needs some. Weight loss is NOT like quitting a bad habit, you can’t just stop eating cold turkey – the damage that does to your body is significant – trust me, I know first-hand.
I think it’s really important to learn to listen to your body. Obviously when someone is overeating or undereating, their hunger cues can be skewed and it can be helpful to follow a meal plan in order to re-regulate these cues. However, intermittent fasting does not help do this. In my fitness journey, I like to promote balance, listening to your body and learning what works for YOUR body. To me, this means eating when you’re hungry not just when you’re bored, knowing that on days you exert yourself that you need to take in more energy to sustain yourself, knowing that it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while, and making healthy choices in what you decide to eat. I don’t believe in restriction. It’s well known that when you restrict yourself from something, like sweets, that it can lead to over indulging in this item in the not-so-distant future. Avoiding a certain food or type of food is not a good way to lose weight and maintain this weight loss. In my mind, this is the same with fasting. It can go one of two ways: you fast to an extent where your hunger is uncontrollable or you alter your hunger cues to an extent where you are unable to trust your bodily instincts and slow your metabolism. Neither seem optimum.
While there aren’t many sufficiently controlled scientific studies on the effects of intermittent fasting at this point (“The Scientific Evidence Surrounding Intermittent Fasting”), there is proof from on-line fitness personalities that Intermittent Fasting can be successful for weight loss. However, there is also proof that it can have a negative impact on weight loss. For example, bodybuilding.com explains that, “purposeful fasting of 20 hours or more, lasting only two weeks, may invoke a starvation-related decrease in resting metabolic rate” (Intermittent Fasting: Science And Supplementation) which can slow down weight loss and your body’s overall ability to process food as energy. Intermittent Fasting also has the potential to not only burn stored fat but muscle as well which is not really a good thing, “One short-term fasting study, covering 15-30 hours, demonstrated an increased rate of protein breakdown” (Intermittent Fasting: Science And Supplementation).
Myfitnesspal.com gives insight on when Intermittent Fasting might be a choice you want to consider. It explains that if someone’s goal is to lose weight, then Intermittent Fasting is an option to try as it seems to work as well as daily caloric restriction from the evidence reviewed thus far. Most research done to date, however, suggests that intermittent fasting is a beneficial technique mainly among “hard gainer, young males” (“Science Investigates: Fasting vs. Calorie Restriction?”). The article strongly cautions women when considering fasting as it can significantly impact hormone balance, thyroid balance and more. It can also be a high-risk situation for individuals with cardiovascular risk, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnant women and so on (“Science Investigates: Fasting vs. Calorie Restriction?”; “The Scientific Evidence Surrounding Intermittent Fasting”). Ultimately, the line I found to be most important in this article is, “Remember that no diet approach is magical. What matters is what works for you” (“Science Investigates: Fasting vs. Calorie Restriction?”).
If you want to experiment, then you go ahead and you do you!
But, Remember, “The most effective weight loss plans and healthy life styles are ones that can be maintained, and these habits are not the same for everyone. If intermittent fasting is appealing, give it full effort for a few weeks before evaluating success or failure of that approach” – “The Scientific Evidence Surrounding Intermittent Fasting,” Amber Simmons, PhD
Personally, I find it hard to imagine intermittent fasting as a sustainable lifestyle practice and I don’t think it’s a feasible way to lose weight and “keep it off.”
This is just my opinion, and I encourage you to craft your own. Hopefully though I’ve let you see a different perspective on the current phenomenon and given you some food for thought going into the weekend!
Simmons, Amber. “The Scientific Evidence Surrounding Intermittent Fasting.” EAS Academy, http://easacademy.org/trainer-resources/article/intermittent-fasting
Hyde, Parker. “Intermittent Fasting: Science and Supplementation.” Bodybuilding.com, 24 July 2016, https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/intermittent-fasting-science-and-supplementation.html
Authority Nutrition. “What is Intermittent Fasting? Explained in Human Terms.” Healthline, http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-intermittent-fasting#section1
Goyanes, Cristina. “Science Investigates: Fasting vs. Calorie Restriction?” myfitnesspal blog, 13 July 2017, https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/science-investigates-fasting-vs-calorie-restriction/