Intermittent fasting is very trendy in today’s world. But before following this method to lose weight on a faster scale, kindly think over judiciously ‘If it is a scientific method or not & whether it is safe to follow’.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but a diet schedule that is purported to accelerate fat loss and muscle growth compared to traditional eating schedules. It is promoted primarily in the scientific community, however, there are currently zero scientific studies (as of February 2014) that have supported intermittent fasting for gaining muscle while losing fat.
With caloric restriction, intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss. In a recent review (Varady, 2011) and one recent randomized clinical trial (Harvie et al., 2011), authors conclude that intermittent fasting and daily caloric restriction are equally effective at promoting weight loss in overweight and obese individuals. However, no studies to date have been performed with athletes who require maintenance of muscle size, strength, and function.
Similar trends are being reported by humans who have tried intermittent fasting. Studies and personal reports by men and women suggest the following cons to the practice:
- Obsession over food during the fast period (watching the clock constantly in expectation of the next meal, which of course raises anxiety).
- An overreliance on coffee that causes severe adrenal fatigue, hormonal, and circadian dysregulation.
- Insomnia, particularly among women, due to activation of the hypocretin neurons that incite wakefulness.
- Hormonal havoc for women takes many forms, including adult acne, metabolic disturbance, obsession over body image, and menstrual irregularities.
- Eating less than normal can trigger severe hunger in some people while others find that they tire easily, suffer headaches, nausea and have trouble concentrating. Because of hunger, fasters may find that they eat more than usual both before and after a planned fast which essentially eliminates the benefit of the fast.
Disadvantages of Intermittent Fasting:
- Although short fasts are seen as safe and can be effective for weight management, longer fasts can have an adverse effect on your short and long term health.
- Rapid weight loss can be easily regained during the post-fast period if you eat too much.
- Fasts do not address your day to day eating habits and fail to teach correct food selection or portion control.
- Fasting can be socially exclusive -- especially within a family setting where meals are eaten together.
- Longer fasts may cause muscle atrophy -- a condition where muscles are broken down for energy -- which may result in a lowered metabolism.
- The use of sporadic eating patterns to lose fat can be effective, but that does NOT mean it is healthy, sustainable for the long term.
Importantly, intermittent fasting is not recommended for pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, people with diabetes, or other people who need to closely regulate their blood sugar. In addition, there has not been research on participants who are underweight, very old, or very young (<18 yrs. old) and these populations could be at higher risk for experiencing negative consequences of fasting
Take home messages
- Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach heavily promoted to the athletic community to achieve and maintain a very lean, strong physique. However, there is currently no scientific evidence supporting these claims.
- In the scientific literature, intermittent fasting with caloric restriction often yields equivalent benefits as traditional low-calorie diets in regard to changes in fat mass, alleviating discomfort due to low energy, improving insulin sensitivity, and improving blood lipid profiles.
- The most effective weight loss plans and healthy life styles are ones that can be maintained, and these habits are not the same for everyone.
Thus to conclude Intermittent fasting is not healthy method to lose weight. Whatever method brings results instantly and with less effort is not sustainable for long. There is no alternative to healthy way of losing weight by making daily calorie deficits, following a simple pattern of physical activity and consuming balanced meal. Results are bound to show up and they will be sustained for a long period of time in future too.
~Dt. Deepalekha Banerjee