The weight loss industry makes billions of dollars a year from Americans attempting to lose a few pounds. Some individuals have combated this billion-dollar industry with trying things like intermittent fasting. Of course, you’ll spend less money on food when you simply don’t eat for a certain period of time, but at what cost?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is something people do to increase their metabolism, lose weight, and possibly even reduce inflammation. To perform this type of fasting, you go without food for a set period of time every day. During this time, you can only drink water.
Many people fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window. So, if you start eating at 8 a.m., you’d only eat until 4 p.m. Then you’d fast again until 8 a.m. the next day.
Others use something called the 5:2 method. This means fives days out of the week you eat a normal number of calories. The other two days you have a restricted caloric intake (usually between 500 and 600 calories).
Dangers of Fasting
Billions of people worldwide fast for various reasons, including weight loss. However, many extreme diets or going without eating altogether can have some positive (and negative) impacts on your physical and mental health. More recently, the negative impacts of intermittent fasting have come to light.
Cons of Fasting
“Intermittent fasting is a gateway to an eating disorder,” Evelyn Tribole, registered dietitian and co-author of Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works stated. Oftentimes, when you get used to not eating, you just stop eating. Some individuals may fall into habits that lead to developing an eating disorder.
At the same time, those who don’t fall into anorexia may find themselves binge eating when they come off their fast. They may do really well for a few weeks, then when they stop their fasting period, they binge and gain the weight back, which can be just as harmful. Most importantly, you lose touch with your body’s ability to know when you need food and when you don’t.
On top of how intermittent fasting can change your relationship with food, it can also impact your social life. Many people who have done this type of fasting note that the social side effects were what almost broke them in the beginning. It is more difficult to go out with friends for a bite to eat when you don’t eat most of the day. Also, not all your friends and family will agree with you just not eating.
Pros of Fasting
That being said, there are plenty of benefits to intermittent fasting. Some individuals find that during periods of fasting they are able to think more clearly and feel happier. Additionally, most people who perform any type of fasting see some weight loss results, though they vary from person to person.
As with any extreme change in your lifestyle, be sure to consult with your physician before fasting or adopting any new diet.
Readers, have you tried intermittent fasting or any other kind of fasting? How did it impact you?