Intermittent fasting (IF) is just one of the many diet trends that circulate around us. If you haven’t tried it yourself, there’s a pretty good chance you know someone that did! But, is it really worth it?
The short answer is: not really. While it may work for some, it isn’t an absolute necessity for success. You can be just as successful (if not more!) by eating at normal meal times throughout the day!
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let’s define what IF is and why it’s portrayed to be the secret answer to success. Intermittent fasting is a diet protocol where you only eat in a certain time period. There are different fasting styles + here are just a few examples:
- Time-restricted fasting: This typically looks like have 16 hours of fasting and an 8 hour eating window daily. But the exact hours could change.
- Alternate day fasting: Alternate between one fasting day and one eating day (yikes!).
- Modified fasting: Eat as usual for 5 days then restrict calories for 2 days.
The idea of IF is that it “revs” up your metabolism to really get you in that fat-burning state.
However, there has been no solid research to date that actually shows a difference between a regular eating schedule and IF! So what does this mean for you?
This means you need to weigh out the pros and cons of each, and choose a lifestyle that you can maintain long-term. If you hate fasting, don’t do it.
Disclaimer: if you have ever been diagnosed with an eating disorder or exhibit disordered eating behaviors (ex- binging, obsessing over food, being scared to eat certain foods) it would not be advised to implement a dieting technique like IF.
Here are some reasons why someone may choose to do IF:
- They really enjoy it. Simple enough.
- They’re in a caloric deficit. For some people, if their food is lowered for whatever reason, condensing eating into a smaller window could help with hunger levels. Having a shorter eating window means that meals feel “bigger” because you have to get your calories in during a small window rather than throughout an entire day.
- It can potentially allow for more wiggle room during social settings due to having more calories that need to be consumed during a smaller window.
- They’re busy and don’t get to their first meal until later in the afternoon.
Here are some reasons why someone may decide against it:
- They don’t like it. Simple enough.
- They’re in a caloric surplus (think someone who’s trying to gain muscle, for example). If their eating window is shortened, it could equate to a substantial amount of food in a short period. This could lead to some gastrointestinal stress and they may feel better with eating food a little more spread out.
- They get hangry! Some people’s bodies are okay with the sensation of feeling hungry. For others, this could impact energy levels, blood sugar, hormones, mood, and more.
- They have a history of an eating disorder. For anyone who has experienced an eating disorder or disordered eating- I would strongly advise against trying IF.
There are many reasons why someone may choose to do or not do IF. At the end of the day, here’s the most important thing to remember: intermittent fasting isn’t magic and neither is any other dieting approach. What matters most: choosing a method that makes you feel good, one that can last long-term, and one that doesn’t promote extreme restriction and lowers your quality of life.