It’s swimsuit season! With the increasing warm temperatures, there is no doubt that we desire a well-toned body. Or, perhaps you’ve noticed that a couple of pounds were gained during the winter season and are thinking of starting a fat-burning workout. But rather than hitting the gym, you may have considered a new diet called intermittent fasting. What is intermittent fasting you say? The diet restricts eating for at least 16 hours for desired weight loss results. It has become increasingly popular due to the proposed health benefits. There are many variations of intermittent fasting that exist. The 5:2 diet lets you eat five days and then fast on the remaining two days. Another approach, called time-restricted eating, requires you to fast for 16 hours and eat only in an 8 hour window. Like any diet, considering the pros and cons is important before deciding if intermittent fasting is right for you.
Let’s begin with the positives of this diet. The health benefits of intermittent fasting include reducing inflammation, blood pressure, and cancer. The diet has also been seen to increase brain functioning and studies have shown that adults saw significant weight loss from 8 weeks to 6 months of fasting. But it’s a good idea to keep in mind that these health benefits are not yet proven for its long-term effects.
This specific diet has more disadvantages than advantages just like any other weight loss diet that we’ve seen. Fasting may bring opposite effects such as weight gain. We tend to overeat after a long period of calorie deprivation. Similarly, participants load on more calories on these “binge sessions” which result in weight gain. Eating is also a very social activity. If you think about it, fasting can drastically change social gathering dynamics. When you only have a specific window to eat, it could be difficult to schedule meals with people you love. Nobody wants to miss out on a good story at the dinner table!
Other concerns around this diet is the increased contributions to eating disorders. Fasting diets may change our idea of eating. Eating is a fulfilling experience that can turn into an unhealthy relationship with food. People on this diet are not the most pleasant to be around because not eating increases stress levels. With prolonged release of stress hormones, it may disrupt the body’s natural processes and increases risk of numerous health problems.
Although fasting may have been practiced for over centuries, intermittent fasting is definitely not for everyone— especially those who are diabetic or hypoglycemic. If you do decide to join the bandwagon, make sure your calorie intake is high enough to maintain a healthy weight— and talk with a dietitian to make sure you are on track!