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November 02, 2018 4 min read

Intermittent fasting is taking over the health and fitness industry but you’re over there wondering, ‘What the heck is intermittent fasting?”

Have no fears! Despite it being one of the world’s most popular trends, there are still many people who have yet to jump on the healthy band wagon. 

 

WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING ABOUT

Intermittent fasting is all about alternating cycles of fasting and eating. You eat, you fast, you eat, you fast, and well, you get the idea. However, there are different fasting patterns or rather, cycles you can follow when intermittent fasting but the method remains the same; you have eating periods and then fasting periods.

What are the basic types of fasting:

✔️ALTERNATE DAY FASTING

Despite what the name, Alternate Day Fasting may have you thinking, this fasting method isn’t eating one day, then fasting the next. Instead, it involves eating everything you want one day, then having a restricted diet the next – like, reallyrestricted. We’re talking 600 calories for men and 500 for women.

✔️EAT STOP EAT

This fasting method is one of the simplest out there and one of the easiest for people to start with, as it involves fasting only once or twice a week. However, the goal is to aim for a total 24-hour period in which you fast.

✔️WARRIOR DIET

The Warrior Diet is like the hippies of intermittent fasting. It’s all about listening to your body, mind, heart, soul and spirit when it comes to eating. Instead of eating when you feel hungry, you eat like a caveman or ancient warrior. In other words, you eat at night when the cavemen used to hunt. This type of intermittent fasting has a lot to do with controlling your hunger pangs and learning how to thrive, even on an empty stomach.

✔️LEAN GAINS

Lean Gains intermittent fasting is as simple as this – miss breakfast; eat huge meals and then train like you’ve never trained before. The concept is to have more calories on the days when you hit the gym and less when you don’t.

✔️5:2 DIET

The 5:2 diet consists of eating like you normally would for 5 days of the week, and then eating a very restricted calorie intake on the other 2 days. We’re talking 500-600 calories per day.

 

Should Women Fast?

There is some evidence that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women, as it is for men.

For example, one study showed that it improved insulin sensitivity in men, but worsened blood sugar control in women

Although there are no human studies on this, studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting can make female rats emaciated, masculinized, infertile and cause them to miss cycles

There are plenty of anecdotal reports from women whos menstrual period stopped  when they started doing IF, then went back to normal when they stopped doing it.

For these reasons, women should definitely  be careful with intermittent fasting. Ease into it, and if you have any problems like amenorrhea then stop doing it immediately.

If you have problems with fertility and/or are trying to conceive, then consider holding off on intermittent fasting for now. Intermittent fasting is probably a bad idea when pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Safety and Side Effects

Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting. You may also feel weak and that your brain isn’t performing as well as you’re used to. This may only be temporary, as it can take some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule. If you have a medical condition, then you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.

This is particularly important if you:

  • Have diabetes.
  • Have problems with blood sugar regulation.
  • Have low blood pressure.
  • Take medications.
  • Are underweight.
  • Have a history of eating disorders.
  • Are a female who is trying to conceive.
  • Are a female with a history of amenorrhea.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Here are answers to the most common questions about intermittent fasting.

1. Can I drink liquids during the fast?

Yes.  water coffee and tea and other non-caloric beverages are fine. Do not add sugar to your coffee. Small amounts of milk or cream may be okay.

Coffee can be particularly beneficial during a fast, because it can blunt hunger .

2. Isn’t it unhealthy to skip breakfast?

No. The problem is that most stereotypical breakfast skippers have unhealthy lifestyles. If you make sure to eat healthy food for the rest of the day then it is fine.

3. Can I take supplements while fasting?

Yes. However, keep in mind that some supplements (like fat-soluble vitamins) may work better when taken with meals.

4. Can I work out while fasted?

Yes, fasted workouts are fine. Some people recommend taking  (BCAAs) before a fasted workout.

5. Will fasting cause muscle loss?

All weight loss methods can cause muscle loss, that is why it is important to lift weights and keep  protein intake high. One study shows that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than regular calorie restriction

6. Will fasting slow down my metabolism?

No. Studies show that short-term fasts actually boost metabolism . However, longer fasts (3 days or more) can  surpress metabolism .

7. Should kids fast?

That’s probably a bad idea.

Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not something that anyone needs to do. It is just one of many lifestyle strategies that can improve your health. Eating  real food exercising and taking care of your sleep are still the most important factors to focus on.

If you don’t like the idea of fasting, then you can safely ignore all of this. Just continue to do what works for you.

At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in nutrition. The best diet for you is the one you can stick to in the long run. Intermittent fasting is great for some people, not others. The only way to find out which group you belong to is to try it out.

If you feel good when fasting and find it to be a sustainable way of eating, then it can be a very powerful tool to lose weight and improve health.