Fasting is usually considered a gimmicky diet fad or outdated religious practice. But today, a new form of fasting has taken the dieting world by storm.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) has increased in popularity over the last several years. But is it safe?
Depriving yourself of food to lose weight can be very dangerous. However, an increasing amount of research finds there are numerous health benefits to IF.
Before you decide to give it a try, there are some things you should know.
Defining Intermittent Fasting
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting involves occasional starvation done in a systematic way.
The idea behind IF is to cycle through periods of normal eating and periods of fasting. During the fasting times, you significantly restrict calories or avoid food altogether.
Some people choose to fast during certain hours each day, while others fast one or two nonconsecutive days out of the week.
Should You Fast?
While many nutritionists are now spouting the benefits of IF, others warn against it. Here, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of fasting so you can determine if it’s right for you.
Pros Of IF
In addition to the weight loss you can experience with IF, fasting may also extend your life and improve overall health. Some studies have found that IF provides these health-boosting benefits:
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Better aging
- Decreased bad cholesterol
- Less inflammation
- Lower risk of cancer
- Stabilized blood sugar levels
Cons Of IF
With all the benefits mentioned above, you may be wondering what could possibly be wrong with intermittent fasting. While not necessarily dangerous, IF can be bad for you. For one, the focus of this type of diet is on when you eat, not what.
That means your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs and you’re more likely to binge on high-sugar, high-fat foods.
Additionally, you don’t always know how your body will react—mentally as well as physically—to such extreme calorie restrictions. You may become irritable, faint, dizzy, or suffer from headaches.
The most important thing to keep in mind about IF is that it’s not for everyone. Certain health conditions make fasting unadvisable, while others improve as a result of it.
If you choose to pursue an IF eating plan, speak with a healthcare professional first. He or she can help you determine which type of fasting will work best for your health and lifestyle.
Then, if your doctor gives the go-ahead, remember to maintain healthy eating habits. Be sure to include plenty of nutritious foods during your regular eating periods, and avoid unhealthy junk food all the time—not just during fasting phases.
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