Did You Know | Health

Intermittent Fasting Is Becoming The Go-To Method For Losing Weight, But Is It Healthy?

Great Lakes Ledger

Diet plans are often strict and hard to follow, but what if there's a way to eat what you want, but not exactly when you want?

There's been research that's found that eating normally for a few days then eating much less on others will not only help you lose weight, but it will also make you healthier in the short and long term.

This kind of sustainable weight loss has been argued to improve brain health and energy levels, while decreasing your chances of heart disease and cancer.

The idea is that by limiting calorie intake some days, your body's metabolism will change and you won't crave eating large amounts of food anymore.

So, is this all hogwash? Or is there some truth to this?

The Pros

Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at Utah’s non-profit Intermountain Healthcare system, told Time that his research has shown a lot of positive benefits to intermittent fasting.

“There continues to be good evidence that intermittent fasting is producing weight-loss benefits, and we also have some evidence that these diets can reduce inflammation, they can reduce blood pressure and resting heart rate, and they seem to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system," Horne said.

Research dietitian Michelle Harvie, who co-authored many studies related to intermittent fasting, argues that fasting plans where people eat normally for five days and reduce their calorie intake for two days is a good option for weight loss for overweight individuals.

While studying fasting in rodents, she also found that this new diet trend, when followed properly, may prevent Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Lately, people who are coming up with new diet trends tend to draw inspiration from our ancestors.

When humans were foragers, we didn't have access to as much food as we have today.

There were days our ancestors had a bucket full of fruits or vegetables to eat, and then there were days they wouldn't eat at all.

“The people who survived to have children were individuals who were able to survive those periods, so just from that perspective, you would expect fasting would have an effect to improve health," Horne said.

The Cons

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If you've tried many diet plans, then you already know there's no easy way to lose weight.

For example, there are some people who swear by the keto diet, which is a low-carb, high fat and high-protein diet, but others have had adverse reactions to this diet trend.

The same goes for intermittent fasting.

The adjustment period can take a toll on the mind and body. People have reported side effects like low energy, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and increased cravings that last for more than two weeks.

According to canadianprotein.com, there's evidence that fasting can raise cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone.

Putting your body under overwhelming amounts of stress for long periods of time is never a good idea and will defeat the purpose of following this new diet trend.

Also, people whose bodies cannot adapt to intermittent fasting end up consuming more stimulants to help keep them awake and energized. This will only have devastating effects for your health in the long run.

One month of Intermittent Fasting

To be honest, I didn't try intermittent fasting on purpose, it kind of just happened.

For two weeks, there wasn't enough time in my schedule to eat three square meals a day.

There would be days I would eat only two small meals, and then there would be days I would only consume a few fruits, vegetables, and a handful of nuts.

At the time, I thought what I was doing was ridiculous, but strangely, my body didn't feel stressed about it and I ended up losing 10 pounds.

There was about a week where my body craved every meal that exists on this planet, but that craving started to wane after two weeks.

By the end of the month, I felt healthier and more energized than I've ever felt before.

After my experience with intermittent fasting, I couldn't help but share what I went through with my friends.

While some friends were huge advocates for this new diet trend, there were others who complained that they couldn't adjust.

They said they awoke with severe hunger pains, anxiety, and low energy levels that lasted for weeks, which actually made them gain weight.

It's important to note that despite not having any serious medical conditions and eating only healthy food during this time I was intermittent fasting, it still wasn't a good idea for me to embark on this new diet plan without consulting my doctor.

Just to be on the safe side, talk to a health care professional before trying a new diet so that you can find a dieting method that caters best to your needs.

Besides, a routine of healthy eating and exercise always goes a long way.

Have you tried intermittent fasting before? Did it work for you?

[H/T: Time]

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.