Is Intermittent Fasting Bad for you?
What is intermittent fasting?
A penny for your thoughts, what do you think intermittent fasting (IF) is all about? The primary goal of intermittent fasting is changing your eating pattern. It entails putting yourself in an irregular starving mode. Thus, it means that you are omitting frequent meals. Certain frequent meals that you eat daily are not really necessary. Although it might take some time, intermittent fasting has massive health benefits. Good things come to those who wait, so it’s essential to be patient. When done correctly, IF limits your caloric intake. It can be for a certain window of time during the day. Also, it can be during specific days of the week.
Therefore, IF helps you shift from glucose to ketones as primary energy sources. Such a metabolic switch helps burn a significant amount of deposited fat. Unfortunately, many people tend to complicate the whole meaning of IF. Many are times you will hear people asking if they can use supplements on IF. Others want to know if it’s okay to incorporate tea and coffee during the fasting window.
The truth is that IF allows you to take supplements, tea, and coffee. Supplements supply missing essential nutrients that come with health benefits. These supplements can be sea salt, electrolyte, and lots of vegetables. In this article, I will highlight why IF is not bad for you. I will also take you through special scenarios where you should avoid intermittent fasting. So keep reading.
How does intermittent fasting work?
Intermittent fasting works in several ways. The method you choose should suit your daily schedule. That makes the program easier and smoother to follow. For example, you can choose to eat only during an eight-hour window period every day. The rest of the 16 hours should be your fasting window. Also, depending on your schedule, you can choose to have your normal food intake during a ten-hour window every day. The rest of the 14 hours should be your healthy fasting period of time.
According to recent human studies, with such irregular eating patterns, your body exhausts its sugar stores. Thus, it responds by starting to burn deposited fats. In such a case, the body is said to be experiencing a metabolic switch. Take for instance an average American who eats three meals daily. Let’s not forget that the person might much a snack or two between the meals. It is also likely that this individual might not be exercising regularly. In such a case, every food or snack consumption acts as the body’s calories for metabolism.
Naturally, your body’s metabolism prefers sugars to any other source of calories. It is only when it has exhausted the sugar stores that it will begin burning the fats. Thus, IF prolongs the period your body burns the calories you consumed during the last meal. That is the phase of caloric restriction. Even in that phase, your body system still needs calories to sustain its metabolic health. It will therefore switch to fat as its secondary energy source. In the process, it becomes a tool to achieving a healthy weight. Many people with obesity have used IF as a healthy approach to weight loss.
So, is intermittent fasting as good as it sounds?
I was also curious to know if intermittent fasting is a good healthy eating plan. From my research on clinical and human studies, I found out some interesting observations. Several scientific studies highlight the range of health benefits of IF. For instance, a 2017 study found out that short-term daily intermittent fasting may have several health benefits. The 10 participants experienced improvements in weight loss and post-meal blood sugar levels. Additionally, the study showed that IF improves fasting glucose. (1). So, here is the deal. From these results, people with type 2 diabetes are likely to experience improvements in their blood sugar levels through IF.
Although this study involved 10 participants only, its findings may hold some truth. According to what we already know about weight loss, cutting your caloric intake translates to a scale drop. That’s not all. From the findings, there are also significant possibilities of IF leading to insulin sensitivity improvements.
Another study found out that intermittent fasting before treatment may diminish chemotherapy side effects. Also, another study supported these findings after applying alternate-day fasting on cancer patients. The results indicated that fasting before chemotherapy may lead to improved cure rates. It may also lead to fewer death rates. (2). From these human studies, the common denominator is the combination of fasting and a healthy diet. So, IF can be an effective approach to weight loss, especially for people at risk of obesity. IF can also be an effective weight-loss approach for people with diabetes. With IF, people with diabetes can also regulate their insulin levels and blood sugar levels.
Although these studies have promising results, they still insist that IF may not be good for certain groups. For instance, if you have a history of bulimia or anorexia, IF may not work well with you. Also, if you are a pregnant or nursing woman, it would help if you avoid the intermittent fasting plan.
Is intermittent Fasting unhealthy?
Scientific research shows that IF is healthy if you do it correctly. In fact, there is more to IF than the weight loss benefit. Research proves that intermittent fasting has physical and emotional benefits. If you didn’t know, here is the wide range of these health benefits;
- IF increases growth hormones by approximately 2000%.
- IF aids in the re-growth of nerve cells thus leading to amazing cognitive functions.
- Incorporating healthy foods into your intermittent fasting plan promotes high levels of ketosis.
- It significantly improves your memory. Thus, you develop a sharper mind.
- IF improves inflammation.
- IF improves your cardiovascular functions.
- IF acts as a discipline tool that keeps you away from disordered eating. We all know that food is a form of temptation, especially, sweetened and junk foods.
- With this practice, your body tends to grow leaner and healthier. Human studies show that fasting for 16hours daily reduces body fat in young men. Although it reduces your body fat, you won’t have to worry about your muscle mass. The reason is that it retains your muscle mass.
- Research shows that IF and a healthy diet plan may help you live a longer life. it achieves this by manifesting the benefits of autophagy. This way, it recycles old proteins, thus helping in anti-aging.
- Also, IF involves several body processes that can protect you from developing chronic diseases. So, you may use IF as a protective tool against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Other chronic diseases associated with unhealthy frequent eating are neurodegenerative disorders and cancer.
Is intermittent fasting dangerous with exercise?
Someone once asked my opinion on combining intermittent fasting with exercise. Is it safe or is it dangerous? Here is the thing. For people at the risk of obesity, the elephant in the room here is achieving a healthy weight. To achieve a healthy weight, you have to drain out any excess fat. So, an average person might think that “if I combine IF, healthy foods and exercise, I might lose weight faster than I think.” I would like to tell you for free, that is a bad idea.
Adding too many things too fast might not end well after a period of time. In other words, it may be dangerous attempting exercise while your body depends on two meals a day with limited caloric intake. If you combine all these practices at once, you might end up passing out. The main reason is that exercise demands too much energy. Your body might not be able to provide this energy requirement through fat-burning at once.
With that said, the best thing is to introduce each practice slowly depending on how your body responds. Try and learn your body and its indicators to help you know if you are doing it the right way. My opinion is that you focus on how you feel when you begin the daily exercise. For instance, you can identify if your legs are feeling heaviness during an exercise. Are you always exhausted during the exercise? Do you always feel like you can’t proceed a few minutes after beginning the exercise? Or do you feel like you must proceed with the exercise to the end? Those are ideal indicators to know if you can handle the exercise or not.
Is intermittent fasting unhealthy for people living with hypoglycemia?
If you are hypoglycemic, the biggest mistake you can make is to have frequent meals. For instance, having six meals in a day makes your situation even worse. Frequent food intake spikes insulin levels. Frequent eating only solves your short-term temporary cravings. Unfortunately, the problem returns approximately one hour later. So what is the ultimate solution? The ultimate solution is practicing intermittent fasting in a healthy gradual manner.
What do I mean by doing intermittent fasting in a healthy way? I mean you eat lots of nutrient-dense foods and healthy fats. This is what we call adapting the ketogenic diet. After a period of time, you will realize that your cravings and hunger will diminish. Also, gradually integrating the keto diet and IF will stabilize your blood sugars. Note that the main risk factor behind hypoglycemia is insulin resistance. So, if you have hypoglycemia, IF is perfectly healthy. Just make sure you follow the above guidelines.
Who shouldn’t do intermittent fasting?
In this section, I will highlight groups of people who shouldn’t be doing intermittent fasting. However, if you are in either of the groups below, practicing a healthy keto is safe. For these groups, when I mention fasting I mean at least two meals a day with no snacks. If you eat three meals daily, I wouldn’t consider that as intermittent fasting. Even if you don’t include snacks between the three meals, I still wouldn’t consider it as IF. So, if you belong to either of the below groups, avoid IF.
If you are expectant, my recommendation is you have three meals daily. Of course, as part of preventing health risks, I wouldn’t recommend snacking. The three full meals will adequately supply you with nutrient-dense calories.
The same case applies to nursing women. I wouldn’t recommend IF for a nursing mother. Instead, I would recommend three meals daily. Avoid snacks if you can. The reason is that the infant is consuming a lot of nutrients from the mother. So, it would be best not to deprive the mother of any nutrients.
Avoid intermittent fasting if you are a thin person probably with neurodegeneration.
Do you have Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s and you are extremely thin and frail? Do not attempt IF. Your body may develop long-term effects if you practice IF while in this condition. As the above conditions, my recommendation is at least three meals daily. Also, normalize having a healthy diet by eating fewer carbs. For instance, instead of 50g of carbohydrate, take 10 grams or less daily. This way, you will force your body to run on ketones. Note that the brain cells love using ketones for cognitive functions.
Babies and small children
If you are a mother breastfeeding a baby, there is no way you will restrict it to twice a day. So, the frequency of breastfeeding the baby depends on when the baby becomes hungry. For small children done with breastfeeding, I wouldn’t recommend IF. however, I don’t recommend any type of unhealthy eating. When children eat unhealthy foods like sweets, their blood sugar levels rise. So, I recommend supervising your kids through a healthy keto. A healthy keto is good for kids since they demand more nutrients for development.
If you have an eating disorder.
If you have bulimia or anorexia do not attempt IF. Instead, a healthy ketogenic diet might be the best alternative. From my experience, I have realized that most people with eating disorders consume large carbohydrates amounts. So, practicing a healthy keto version leads to instant relief. It satisfies your body with any nutrient deficiencies. Right there, you might start experiencing better moods
Intermittent fasting is a safe program if you know when and how to practice it. If you are unsure of whether to start IF, consult your doctor for guidance. As mentioned above, if you have an eating disorder, avoid IF. Also, if you are extremely thin, avoid IF. Additionally, small children and babies should not attempt the program. Instead, small children should adapt to a healthy keto diet. So, unless you are under your doctor’s supervision, attempting IF might be bad for you if you are in any of the above groups.