Intermittent fasting has been extensively studied for its general health benefits, but it’s gained wide spread popularity in recent years as a weight loss diet. It’s proven to be effective, but definitely not perfect. Here’s a quick list of the intermittent fasting pros and cons you’ll want to know before starting.
Pro: You’ll Lose Weight
There isn’t one dominant factor that magically causes you to lose weight while intermittent fasting. There’s a synergy of multiple, very positive, changes occurring during a daily fast.
Here’s a few important variables:
Improved blood sugar
Increased insulin sensitivity
Increased growth hormone secretion
Reduced ghrelin production (hunger hormone)
Con: No More Late Night Snacks
Most people are surprisingly close to being on an intermittent fast without even knowing it. It’s usually one or two late night snacks that ruin everything.
If, like most people, you finish dinner around 6 pm you’d be primed for an optimal fast if you were to avoid eating until the following morning. Unfortunately, most never reach an optimal fasted state because they consume 100-200 calories with a quick snack before bed.
You’ll need to give up, and survive without, the late night munchies to succeed with intermittent fasting.
Pro: Meals Are Larger
Most diets aren’t fun, and don’t feel the least bit rewarding. It’s hard to feel rewarded when you’re restricting the volume of food you eat each day. And that’s kind of the hard part with diets.
You have to stretch a reduced calorie budget across an entire day. When you condense your daily eating time frame to eight hours, your meals need to be bigger.
If you had 12 hours to consume 2,000 calories that could be separated into 4-5 small meals. But when you schedule 2,000 calories over eight hours, those meals need to be pretty big to get all your calories in for the day.
Note: You don’t have to separate calories equally while intermittent fasting. Some people prefer to eat one massive 1,500 calorie meal per day, with two much smaller meals later.
Con: Long Periods Without Food
As with every diet, there are going to be trade-offs and concessions. Condensing the daily time frame to consume all your calories will make meals larger, but it comes at the cost of avoiding food when you’re used to eating.
Depending on which fasting time frame you choose, this can get a little challenging.
If you choose the popular 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule, there’s about four hours each day you’ll need to be mentally ready for. If you’re a big breakfast person, trying to avoid food between 6 am and 10 am can be difficult.
Pro: Improved Blood Sugar
One of the contributing factors to weight loss, while fasting, is it’s influence on blood sugar. Your blood sugar levels can normalize, because there’s an absence of food (sugar) being digested in your system for up to 16 hours each day.
Intermittent fasting is currently being considered, and medically tested, as an alternative to insulin treatment for those with type 2 diabetes.
Con: Easy To Disrupt Your Fast
The goal with intermittent fasting is to enter a fasted state where your body doesn’t have enough food digesting to supply the needed energy. If you keep feeding calories into your system every few hours, it disrupts your intended goal.
And it’s surprisingly easy to end a fast. Too much coffee creamer, or adding too much sugar to a drink can knock you out of a fasted state.
The best scenario, while fasting, is to only drink water during your fasting time frames.
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