Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about one of the latest eating trends called intermittent fasting. Proponents of this kind of diet are touting the benefits including weight loss, increased mental acuity, an increased muscle mass, improved insulin sensitivity and lowered cholesterol. So what’s the real deal?

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The research on this type of dieting (which commonly consists of eating 500 calories 2 days a week and eating “normally” for the other 5) is limited, scant and mostly conducted in mice. And while occasional fasting can be beneficial in some cases, from my study of the most current & reliable literature, I don’t recommend regular fasting as a long-term strategy for either health or weight management. Here’s why:

  1. You might feel pretty spacey: Most people are prone to dizziness, spaciness and even fainting when their levels of blood sugar to the brain are too low (reactive hypoglycemia). Typically, this time period is within 4-8 hours of your last meal. You can’t rock it out if you’re passed out…
  2. You’ll probably feel exhausted: Life is a marathon, and you’ve got to stay fueled to run it. When you don’t consistently and regularly nourish your body, you’ll feel more tired.
  3. You’ll be out of sync with your satiety center: Intuitive eating requires you to pay attention to what your body is telling you it needs. When you keep ignoring your body’s signals, you’ll eventually not recognize them.
  4. You could get hungry (I mean really hungry): Being hungry is uncomfortable and distracting. While you might being losing pounds, if you’re crabby because you are hungry, you’ll likely also lose friends.
  5. You’re more likely to overeat, and eat the wrong kinds of food: I notice that when people are really hungry, they tend to make unhealthy food choices and more of them. They justify the choice and the amount by their level of hungriness and also to reward their self-deprecating efforts. So in the “normal” eating phase of the diet, people tend to binge on low quality foods
  6. You probably can’t make it a lifestyle: The real key to healthy eating and weight management is consistency. I recommend consistently eating to your body’s metabolism (not more or less) and eating the healthiest foods possible, whenever possible.

Remember, weight management is all about energy expenditure. If you take in fewer calories than you burn you will lose weight (no matter what the timing). So, if you only take in 500 calories in a day a few days a week, you’ll likely lose weight, but I don’t think this is the best way to eat (for the long term). I stand by intuitive eating and eating every few hours to stay fueled, keep blood sugar levels steady, and for the prevention of binge eating. Just be sure that you eat the right kinds of foods and manage your portion sizes.

Eat real food (every few hours), feel real good! Now get to it.

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About the Author:

Nutrition Expert, Organic Foodie, Health Enthusiast, Doctor and Creator/Owner of YouAnew Lifestyle Nutrition. I know it's totally possible to change your life by changing your meals. Get to know Dr Kristen Bentson | instagram | facebook | pinterest | google+