There’s been a buzz going around in recent history about something called intermittent fasting. If you’ve been around long enough, you have probably heard about it many times before. But does Intermittent fasting have side effects?
However, for people that are new to the game, intermittent fasting is basically making your body believe that you are fasting without actually doing it for the long term. More often than not it comes with a daily allowance where you have 16-18 hours of fasting and 6-8 hours of eating.
This is enough to make your body believe that you are withholding food from it and that you’re eating less when in actuality you’re eating about the same amount.
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It’s been proven to have a lot of benefits, which are being studied extensively as we speak. Intermittent fasting gives you the ability to burn more fat, as well as be able to keep away certain diseases and help with slowing down the process of aging.
What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
From a completely dietary standpoint, it’s very beneficial in many ways. There are people who had previously been banking on the 5 small meals per day, which required a lot of restraint and planning.
With intermittent fasting, you are able to eat larger meals during the times you are allowed them, making for quite a fulfilling time.
Having fewer meals also means having less to consider when it comes to what foods you want to eat. You can plan out your meals easily and in a shorter amount of time.
This is based on the idea that not only does your body keep track of how many calories you consume, but as well as when you do it. Intermittent fasting has been tested on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from animals to humans, and the results have been fairly positive each time.
You have probably guessed the effects of this particular diet. If you know anything about actual fasting, you would know that it does pretty serious things to your body.
When your body is preparing for starvation, it starts up a process that forces it to use more and more of the stored fat in your body, dramatically increasing weight loss.
In rats, it’s been tested to have led to a pretty serious lowering of blood glucose levels, around 40% in fact. What’s fascinating, is that even after the study, these rats continued to experience the same benefits that came along with doing it.
Immunity and Anti-Aging
The most studied upon effect, are its effects on an individual’s health in general. Making your body believe that you are fasting, decreases “…the body’s production of the IGF-1 hormone, which has been implicated in cell processes that lead to aging and disease.”
Intermittent Fasting has been tied to things like diabetes and cancer, and people that have studied it, believe that it has a positive effect in both. In many of the relevant studies involving animals, it’s also believed to have led to the lengthening of the subject’s life.
Side-effects Involving in Intermittent Fasting
As good as Intermittent Fasting might sound, just like any other weight loss tactic, it comes with its own set of side-effects. Of course, it all depends on the person doing it.
Most of these side-effects wear out over time, however, they do tend to be extremely present in the beginning. This might turn people off, and make them discontinue intermittent fasting, but as with everything else – perseverance is key.
The more you do it, the more your body will get used to it. Although, if you find that it doesn’t work for you, don’t worry there are other things that can help.
Fluctuations in Energy
Depending on the kind of intermittent fasting that you are employing, the effects on your energy levels will probably fluctuate a lot. This is something that people who work out regularly or who lead active lifestyles have to watch out for.
You will still be able to do regular things, however, if you’re looking to work out intensively then you might find yourself lacking the motivation to do so when intermittent fasting.
It’s actually a proven side-effect. There have been studies done, and the performance of the subjects during times when they were fasting and when they were not, were significantly different. Fasting does result in low energy levels that some people might struggle with.
The Huffington Post has reported on the possible and very real side-effects of intermittent fasting when it comes to people who have been already been diagnosed with eating disorders. Intermittent fasting could become “…a convenient crutch to amplify these issues.”
This is definitely not going to be effective for someone who is unable to control their cravings. Being constantly hungry and then filling yourself up can become a dangerous habit for people who lack the ability to keep themselves separate from food for long periods at a time.
Intermittent Fasting causes an increase in an individual’s cortisol levels, which is the hormone that is related to stress. Cortisol also has to do with metabolism, it’s the thing that forces your body to burn more fat in preparation for activity.
Which is good from the weight loss standpoint, but outside of that, it can also lead to some seriously stressful times.
During the fasting period, it’s recommended that the individual drink coffee to keep themselves sated and more alert. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it even takes care of one of the harsher effects of the diet.
With caffeine, you can expect to feel better energy-wise, but there is a caveat. With coffee comes a mild-dependence. Meaning that in order for you to feel alert the whole day, you’re going to have to drink it several times a day.
Drinking caffeine has been proven to increase the body’s cortisol levels, effectively causing more stress and more harm to the body.
There are other smaller side-effects that come with intermittent fasting. These are the things that people are usually warned about. However, all of these are highly dependent on the individual.
If for example, they find themselves drinking a lot of fluids to keep themselves at bay whilst waiting for the next meal, this can lead to diarrhea. Changing your diet drastically can also lead to some heartburn.
All of this varies depending on the person, some struggling with it more than another.
Intermittent fasting is known to decrease the alertness of the mind. Which is why caffeine being so important. It helps counteract this particular side-effect. Like other physical factors, this varies depending on the person, not just strength but how also how long it lasts.
It might be something that passes by quickly or something that haunts an individual enough to force them to quit the diet.
Effects on Women
“…Women’s reproductive hormones are highly sensitive to energy intake.” That means, that the side-effects a man might get from intermittent fasting are likely to be different from a woman.
Fasting can lead to some pretty serious hormonal problems in a woman. Which is naturally going to affect their daily lives. Whether it be the disturbance of their monthly cycle or even dramatic fluctuations in their metabolic rates.
Another issue that affects women directly is the matter of pregnancy. Pregnancy is not the time to control your cravings, it’s best to give into them, not just for your health but the child’s as well. So pregnant women are often told to stay away from this kind of diet.
Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Based on the scientific studies, yes. This is something that has proven effective when it comes losing weight. Not only that, but it continues to be researched even now.
Positive results have been found in different subjects, including humans, and whilst there are still ongoing studies involving the long-term effects we can say for sure that it does work.
Is Intermittent Fasting something I would suggest for a person to do? Yes, but that’s highly dependent on the person. This is not something I’ll suggest for everyone.
Different things work for different people. Just like most diets, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. In this case, people who have pre-existing eating disorders, or lead an active lifestyle might not want to try something that could put either in peril.
Also, if you don’t think you’ll be able to go long periods without eating, then this is definitely not something for you. It will just lead to a lot of guilt and stress that you don’t need. Don’t worry, there are alternatives available for you. Only do this if this is something you believe you can handle.
Intermittent Fasting has not only proved effective for weight loss but for various health problems as well. There’s also the chance of it being able to lengthen your lifespan. Anything that can do that is definitely something worth a try.
However, do keep in mind the side-effects that are mentioned above. These are real side-effects that actual people have experienced and researched. If you think one of these side-effects might affect your life negatively, then make the conscious decision to not go through with it.
1. Jessica Matthews Fasting: A trending food idea and new frontier in longevity science https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/20/science-diet-fasting-may-be-more-important-than-just-eating-less.html
2. JJ Virgin 5 Reasons Intermittent Fasting Could Become a Bad Idea https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jj-virgin/intermittent-fasting_b_5541429.html