Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?

Intermittent fasting does not specify which foods to eat but rather when to eat them. It does not control eating, unless it is done for religious purposes. 

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Photography by Aya Brackett / Hyperbiotics

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. According to the Mayo Clinic, this form of fasting is often used to possibly treat health problems like obesity, asthma, strokes, diabetes, sleep apnea, or even as extreme as cancer. Research suggests that this is beneficial due to improving conditions dealing with inflammation.

Additionally, this decision could be for a low-calorie diet with the intention of weight loss or health benefits. Usually, intermittent fasting ranges from a few hours per day, such as not eating for an 8-hour window, to certain days a week, such as fasting for 5 days and then eating for 2, or vice versa.

Despite its potential benefits, intermittent fasting can also have side effects, such as hunger, insomnia, nausea, and headaches. While it has proven benefits, fasting is not for everyone, nor is it always safe. It’s essential to always consult a doctor or professional, research, and try it sparingly before deciding on making a drastic change like fasting. Moreover, fasting is common in many religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, and Buddhism. 

Although intermittent fasting is safe for many people, it’s important to note that it’s not for everyone. Skipping meals may not be the best way to manage your weight if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. If you have kidney stones, gastroesophageal reflux, diabetes, or other medical problems, it’s crucial to talk with your doctor before starting intermittent fasting.

Furthermore, Healthline states that this fasting practice affects cells and hormones to make stored body fat more accessible, resulting in fat loss and muscle gain. Short-term fasting can increase metabolic rates up to 14%, allowing people to lose 4-7% of their waist circumference. While intermittent fasting for hours a day can be safer than full-day fasting periods, binge eating during the eating periods can be insignificant. 

However, research on the long-term effects of consistent intermittent fasting is still minimal. Studies found that women’s blood sugar control got worse when they fasted, but men’s insulin sensitivity improved. Additionally, women have reported missing their periods when they fast, but they usually come back once they start eating regularly again.

Moreover, women often have different rules to follow when fasting, especially if they’re diagnosed with certain conditions, breastfeeding, taking medications, trying to get pregnant, have low blood pressure, diabetes, or have had eating disorders before. It’s worth noting that children are not recommended to participate in fasting unless heavily monitored.

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