Intermittent Fasting, or IF, is a popular notion being promoted these days. It really is not a new concept. People have been fasting intermittently through out history, and prior to the development of agriculture, humans were forced to do it quite often as hunter-gatherers. Studies have linked IF to weight loss. improved markers of health and a reduced risk of chronic health conditions. However, there are some thing to consider before you try out IF for yourself.
Bad Stress: Fasting puts stress on your body. Generally, this type of stress is labeled as “eustress” or good stress, like excitement you feel at a party or on a roller coaster. However, if you’re already in a chronic state of stress (as many of us are!), dealing with anxiety, panic attacks or other manifestations of too much “distress”, fasting may make things worse, by causing your body to continuously pump out cortisol. You may notice:
- more anxiety
- weight gain
- poor memory
- sleep issues
- digestive problems
Diabetes: Fasting is a challenge if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or insulin resistance because your body has a harder time regulating blood glucose. You may risk hypoglycemia. You may notice:
- irregular heartbeat
- blurred vision
Women: Fasting increases the hormone ghrelin in women, it is a protective mechanism that senses potential starvation. Ghrelin works to increase your feelings for hunger. The more that you choose to fast and ignore these hunger signals, the stronger that they become, and your body produces even more. Eventually, this can shut down the reproductive system in women. If you body thinks that there is not enough food available in your environment to sustain a pregnancy, it will shut down the ability to conceive. Fasting is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant, nursing, or attempting to become pregnant.
A good, balanced solution to hardcore IF is to simply eat an earlier dinner and try to allow your body 12 hours of digestive rest before you eat your next meal. For example, if you eat dinner at 8:00 pm, you would wait until 8:00 am before eating breakfast. I like that this system is not extreme, allows your body plenty of time for nourishment during the course of the day, and still lets your digestion rest and repair while you sleep at night.