Intermittent fasting popped onto the wellness scene a few years back and quickly gained traction (we all learned Oprah doesn’t eat after 8pm). But if you’re still questioning what exactly is intermittent fasting, and if it’s right for you, well, of course we are happy to help shed light on the terminology and its myriad of benefits. And of course, please consult with your doctor before making any extreme changes to your diet.
1/ What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is when you alternate between brief periods of fasting with either no food or very limited calorie consumption, and unrestricted eating. The majority of people who participate in intermittent fasting participate in daily time-restricted eating. This includes those people in your life who don’t eat past 7pm or don’t eat before 11am.
There are other versions of intermittent fasting, including alternate day fasting and periodic fasting, which tend to be a bit more extreme along the spectrum of fasting.
2/ What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Typically you hear about weight loss when intermittent fasting is discussed, but it has also been proven to boost verbal memory, improve blood pressure and resting heart rates.
Intermittent fasting gives your body a break from the spikes and dips in blood sugar that follow meals. And instead of constantly burning the calories you just consumed, intermittent fasting encourages to your body to burn fat stores and produce ketone bodies, which are ideal brain foods.
There are even studies that suggest while fasting the body enters a protective mode, which means it removes damaged cells and tissues, thus stimulating self-repair.
3/ What are the drawbacks to intermittent fasting?
Many nutritionists and doctors have labeled intermittent fasting a diet trend, not a long term solution to weight loss or any of the other health benefits that are purported. They particularly are concerned with women who fast in regards to a decrease in hormone production.
Intermittent fasting inherently stresses your body which can be taxing on your nervous system, thus leading to fatigue, burnout, low energy, and low body temperature.
People who are diabetic or take medications for blood pressure or heart disease should avoid skipping meals.
4/ Women versus men while fasting.
Women are not recommended to fast longer than 14 hours, and should not fast if breast feeding, pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Some nutritionists suggest men can fast up to 16 hours, and of course others say everyone should only fast for 12 hours a day (say from 8pm to 8am), and no longer. Again, this is when consulting one own’s doctor is always best.
5/ Coffee and intermittent fasting.
You can drink black coffee or tea without any additives while fasting. This is why most people tend to fast in the morning, while they can still enjoy their coffee.
6/ Your personal health.
Above all, intuition is key. And being honest with yourself and your doctor about how you feel after fasting is the best tool you have into deciding what is right for you. Signs to be wary of would be feeling tired, disgruntled or that your digestion feels off after fasting.