What is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is a wildly popular, alternating eat-and-fast plan that is getting a lot of attention, and more and more people are trying it for many different reasons. Some for health reasons, most for losing fat and staying lean. Basically, it’s a technique that incorporates a weekly or daily fast into your routine. A simple online search will show numerous websites singing intermittent fasting’s praises for fat loss, increased stamina and vigor, improved focus at the gym and at work, and breaking plateaus.
Many studies do indeed show benefits, for example, obese individuals lost more fat and improved their cardiovascular disease risk.
Yet not all studies have shown the same results. One in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found for women, alternate-day fasting could actually lower glucose tolerance and potentially crash your metabolism.
My own experiences with some of my female clients who gained weight doing intermittent fasting led me to believe that, intermittent fasting could potentially create some detrimental consequences.
You will miss the most important meal of the day
Everyone has always heard that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day". Breakfast is called break-fast for a reason, to break the fast that we went through during sleep. Breakfast helps us with energy first thing in the morning and helps us feel full during the first 3-4 hours of work. If you are wanting to start intermittent fasting, be prepared to give up your favorite breakfast foods, unless you decide to have breakfast for dinner. I don't know about you, but I feel pretty happy when I get to eat breakfast. It is definitely my favourite meal of the day.
You might chronically elevate cortisol levels
Skipping meals ramps up your stress hormone cortisol, which can be detrimental to your metabolism. Women are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of intermittent fasting, which can keep cortisol elevated when it should be tapering down. This could create the undesired effect of storing fat and breaking down muscle.
You can create an unhealthy obsession with food
You have been fasting all morning, then your co-worker opens her Japanese take out at lunch, and suddenly all you can think about is what you will be eating to break your fast at dinner. You continue to think about this all day and next thing you know, you are in a horrible mood. When you are starving, everything else takes a backseat to eating.
With intermittent fasting, food could become an obsession and everything becomes about food.
You might rely on coffee too much
Most intermittent fasting plans allow caffeine, so you can keep going for hours when you are not eating. When you’re fasting, you might find yourself gravitating to coffee shops more often to get your fix that keeps you going without food. Also, that third cup could cut into your sleep cycle.
Coffee also revs up your cortisol. Even small increases in cortisol, such as those experienced when drinking caffeine, can raise blood sugar and increase insulin resistance.
You can create or worsen eating disorders
People don't often discuss this, but at its most extreme, intermittent fasting could trigger eating disorders. The “anything goes” mentality that some people get during the feeding state could lead to overeating, guilt, shame, and other problems that only become worse over time. For someone with emotional or psychological eating disorders, intermittent fasting could turn disastrous.
You could increase food intolerances and inflammation
This is an important point that I make here. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease this year (Hashimoto's), and it is very important for my body to have meals every 3 hours so it doesn't feel stressed from being starved. When you are stressed and have an autoimmune disease, it can worsen or complicate the issue further.
Fasting leaves you starved, and could create a free-for-all dive into a huge pasta dish and a tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream when you actually eat. Not only are you introducing a major caloric overload and blood sugar spike and crash that ultimately lead to more cravings, but your “break the fast” meal will likely contain gluten, dairy, and other potential reactive foods. This can contribute to leaky gut, paving the way for food intolerances, candida, and other gut issues, and increased inflammation. All these problems could lead to an autoimmune dysfunction.
These are just my thoughts and feelings about intermittent fasting, and some may disagree, but this just comes from my own personal experiences with myself and clients. Personally, I feel like fasting is quite bad for the female body because we have so many crazy hormones that can throw us off at anytime. I believe in a well balanced diet full of nutritious, whole and fresh foods to keep us in great health, and I continually discuss and promote this with my female clients on a day to day basis.
Feel free to contact me at Global Fitness Centre if you would like to discuss this further!