Time to breach the topic of Intermittent Fasting! IF is one of a variety of popular diets right now, even though it has been around for quite some time. This diet obviously includes fasting for a period of time, given the name, but it’s the intermittent part that sets itself apart. Dieters can fast for a set amount of hours each day, 24 hours, or a few days. For the sake of the most popular method, I’m only going to focus on the daily timed fasting here.
Time-restricted fasting includes fasting for 14-16 hours each day and only eating during your 8-10 hour window. You can set the windows for whatever best fits your schedule. For example, mine would be a 10am-8pm eating window and then I would fast from 8pm until 10am the next day. WHY would someone want to restrict themselves like this?! Because there have been found to be several benefits to this type of eating pattern (but also some negatives). Let’s mention the good stuff first!
1. Promotes weight loss: IF has been shown to promote weight loss due to the fact that participants only have a short window in which to pack all their meals in. This window reduction has been shown to decrease caloric intake by 20-25% in some individuals. Weight loss is also promoted by giving the body time to detox, digest, and flush out toxins. The 14-16 hour fasting window let’s the stomach completely digest all contents and allows the liver to reset, decreasing inflammation and fat storage.
2. Promotes health! IF can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis and also decrease inflammation and oxidative stress (great for asthmatics!). IF can also decrease cholesterol and improve blood pressure.
3. It’s easy and there’s no calorie restrictions! I know I said above it promotes weight loss by participants eating less calories, but that’s not necessary. You can still eat your same foods and maintain the same level of calories, but ONLY in your window. Because that’s all it takes, it’s easy to stick to! No thinking other than only eating inside your designated window. – Cons continued in comments below!
1. It’s hard to be social. Many social events fall outside of your “eating” hours, making it hard to celebrate events or stay on track. Breakfast and sometimes lunch meetings, birthday dinners, date nights, and late night plans with friends are just a few examples of social events that may come up. Not being able to eat or enjoy yourself make these less fun than they once were.
2. Feeling HANGRY. Our schedules are never set in stone, so when life throws you a curveball, you may not be able to eat when you’re supposed to or find a snack to hold you over. This can lead to feeling ridiculously hungry, as well as decreased energy levels and brain fog.
3. Binging. Because your window of time to eat is shortened, some people gorge themselves the entire 8 hours. Binging on food like this develops a negative relationship with food and can be long-lasting, even after stopping IF.
4. Should be avoided in those with certain medical conditions. Always check with your doctor before starting a new “diet”. IF can be detrimental to those with IBS and diabetes. Because meal sizes are larger while participating in intermittent fasting, they require a longer digestion period, causing more upset for those with irritable bowel syndrome. Diabetics must also worry about their blood sugar throughout the day, so it is better for people who have diabetes to eat small meals throughout the day.