Intermittent Fasting: To do or not to do?

Intermittent fasting has become very popular as a way to lose weight.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting takes on many different forms. Some examples are:

  • The 5:2 diet. This involves lower calories on 2 days of the week, with the rest of the days still having moderate calorie intake. The original research around it was related to women who had breast cancer and were on medication after treatment.
  • Alternate day fasting, where calories are restricted every second day.
  • Time restricted eating – for example only eating between 11 am and 7 pm or 10 am and 8 pm.
  • 24 hour fast, where fasting is done a few times per week.

Intermittent Fasting doesn’t support muscle mass

Skipping meals means that you miss out on a unique opportunity to boosting your muscle mass. Over a 24 hour period, your muscles are constantly changing – either building up or breaking down. Having extra muscle mass is much easier when you are younger, but as you get older, you tend to break down more muscles than you make. Having a good muscle mass is important, as it supports your metabolism, weight, physical health and plays a role in preventing falls. I have written a detailed article about how missing meals impacts this – click here to read it.

Intermittent Fasting can increase cravings

Women’s hormones are very complex as I’m sure you have notice – it is hard to miss the effects they have on us, as they fluctuate through the month. In addition, we also have many other hormones, including cortisol, insulin and our hunger hormones. The two main hunger hormones are ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite, and leptin, which helps you recognise when you are full. These have their own rhythm throughout the day, which isn’t supported by intermittent fasting.. When you miss meals, these hormones can increase your food cravings, and influence your food choices, especially in the latter part of the day. Have you noticed how diets are often broken at the end of the day? We have a natural surge of chemicals in the afternoon, for example neuropeptide Y, that stimulates appetite. In addition, missing meals earlier in the day, exacerbates it. If you struggle with emotional eating, this will make it even worse.

Intermittent fasting is just another type of diet

The more we restrict or put tight controls around food, the more likely it is to result in disordered eating, guilt and shame.

Being stressed around food increases cortisol and cortisol works against insulin. The less effectively insulin is working in your body, the more likely you are to start storing fat, especially around your abdominal region and increasing your risk of hormonal imbalance.

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