Intermittent Fasting is no new fad. Like many of the other dieting styles IF has been the next big thing, old news, and the next big thing again. When you punch in intermittent fasting into Google be prepared for an onslaught of information.
IF turns up over 1.5 million results on the search engines, from research analysis to user reviews everything IF is at your fingertips in under a second. Now here comes the real dilemma: What the heck am I looking for?! Like every other dieting style there are dozens of ways they can be done. The goal of this article is to help you narrow down your search and find out if IF is the diet style for you and if so which form or routine will best suit your goals. That being said let’s get hungry!
Intermittent Fasting: The Good
now there are a myriad of positive side effects that can be attributed to IF, but we will focus on the big three: Weight loss, longevity, & cancer reducing properties. There are many other positive impacts that healthy nutritional diets have on our lives but let’s face it when you’re looking for a new diet its usually for one of these reasons:
- You’re overweight and either by your own accord or your doctor’s orders you need to lose weight.
- You’re getting older and want to enjoy as many more years with your family and friends as you can.
- You’re becoming aware of the impact your diet and lifestyle is having on your body and wish to make changes to reduce your chances of deadly illness.
Being overweight has many negative side effects on our physical and psychological health. Anyone who has ever been over weight knows the constant feelings of inadequacy and even shame at the shape of their bodies. While many diets fail due to shortcomings in personal commitments part of the issue is usually the diet itself in that it is unreasonable. Counting calories is a tedious and arduous task that requires a large amount of guess work when it comes to certain foods or an excessive amount of measuring and preparing. With IF you still need to monitor your calories and maintain healthy eating habits but you don’t necessarily need to turn into a calorie counting robot that caries around a journal of what they ate at every meal. This provides structure and allows the person to enjoy slightly larger serving sizes during their meals.
Let’s face it no one is in any hurry to get “old”, but sadly this is one reality that we all must face. Now in my opinion there are two ways to get old; Gung-ho and gracefully. The Gung-ho approach to aging is, “It’s going to happen anyway so I may as well party it up as hard as I can for as long as I can.” As one can imagine this style of aging seldom works out to well for the individual as the human body has a way of reacting poorly to terrible nutrition and toxins such as smoke and alcohol. The graceful approach to aging looks more like this, “Someday I am going to be old and when I get there I’d like to enjoy it.” This approach is much more reasonable than the first and has a much higher success rate. IF can help us reach old age with grace. IF has shown in animal as well as human testing to significantly aid in reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and many other neurological ailments. IF has also shown to have positive effects on high blood pressure, heart disease, and insulin sensitivity. If all of the afore mentioned was not enough IF has also been proven to fight the spread of cancer cells in mice.
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IF is also a welcome alternative to the age old mantra of eating six times a day to keep your metabolism running optimally. TEF or Thermic Effect of Food is the principle of expenditure of energy to absorb energy. When a person intakes food there is a spike in the metabolic rate that signals the expenditure of calories, so it can be assumed that the more often you ate the more often your metabolism would be spiked in to action. This is false, the most important piece of this puzzle is the end amount of calories, so eating 6 meals a day at 400 calories is not inherently better than eating three meals a day at 800 calories. The most important part of any diet for weight loss is calorie deficit. With IF calorie deficit is easily achievable as on fasted days your calorie intake will be much less than what you burned. IF even has its place in bodybuilding allowing the person to eat at crucial times for muscle building while freeing up the rest of their time from cooking excessive meals.
The final piece of positive about IF is its flexibility. You don’t necessarily have to pick whole days where you don’t eat or fast every other day. You have the freedom to play with the fasting in order to best suite your lifestyle and goals. You can have a time slot of 5 hours a day where you eat your meals and fast for the other 19 or you can pick two whole 24 hours days out of the week where you fast. It’s up to you. After reading this IF is sounding pretty great to most people there are two sides to every story.
Intermittent Fasting: The Bad & The Hungry
Now there are not many cons to the IF lifestyle, many of the ones you may have heard are probably myths such as: Now that we have those out of the way let’s get to the actual downsides of IF.
- Fasting raises cortisol levels- This is false, it merely changes your body’s natural cortisol rhythm while generally keeping levels the same.
- Fasting causes starvation mode- This is false, The body takes much longer to go into starvation mode than people think, generally 60-72 hours. A brief break from food will make you feel hungry, not starve.
- Fasting will break down muscle tissue- This is false, during short instances of fasting lean mass is conserved while fatty mass is consumed.
The actual cons of IF are:
- You will feel hungry, no this does not mean you are starving. Feeling hungry is not the best thing in the world but it is only temporary.
- You will not want to eat all your food in large meals. When we have to consume 800 calories in one sitting the first instinct is to go for the calorie rich items like chips or pizza. Eating 800 of calories of that is a breeze while eating 800 calories of lean meats, vegetables, and fruits can leave you feeling stuffed.
- It is going to require self-control to maintain and IF regime. There are going to be times where you really just want to blow off your fast day and eat pizza with your friends. At this point it all hinges on how much it means to you.
There you have it. These are the main downsides to IF. In the big scope of things and from all the positives listed above, it’s pretty much a no brainer.
What it all boils down to in the end is your level of commitment to your program. IF offers many upsides with very few downsides but if you are not willing to commit to it, it will never work. If you are planning on taking on the IF lifestyle for whatever reason, consult your family members and loved ones and make sure they understand the lifestyle and ask for their support. Programs and much easier to follow and commit to when you have the backing and full support of your family.