Intermittent fasting is a new term that’s only grown in popularity over the most recent years. But there is still a lot of confusion around whether it’s actually good and safe for you.
It’s important to realize there are different types of fasting. While too much fasting can reduce muscle mass and skin elasticity in some people, fasting is a pretty healthy practice for the most part (with a couple of caveats). One of the biggest cautions of fasting is for those suffering from poor adrenal health.
As long as the body is being supported, it’s typically safe for most people. Make the best decision for your body by finding out whether intermittent fasting is right for you.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Although the term has recently garnered a lot of popularity, people of different religions and cultural backgrounds have practiced intermittent fasting for centuries.
Instead of not eating for days, this type of fasting requires a period of time during the day where you withhold food (i.e. your fast). That means you have a shorter period where you can consume food. There are several ratios that some argue are better than others.
You may be familiar with the 8:16 method, where you are consuming food for 8 hours of the day and then fasting for the other 16 hours. This helps the body regulate digestion, sleep-wake cycles, and hormones. Additionally, it has a natural cleansing effect on the body and benefits blood sugar, blood pressure, and food cravings.
Others opt for an ever shorter eating window of 4 hours. This is called the 20:4 method. It is a popular choice for people with specific fitness goals or those who must work around a challenging schedule to practice intermittent fasting.
The 24:0 fasting method is common in a lot of religious practices. It’s a time where there is no consumption of food for at least 24 hours. This allows the body to clean up damaged cells and regenerate new and healthy cells through a process called autophagy.
The term autophagy means self-eating. Although it is a great way to support the digestive system, it’s not for everyone. This form of fasting can be hard on those with adrenal or thyroid problems and for those under a lot of stress.
The Good: Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Regardless of the ratio, there are some great benefits of fasting to help you decide whether this type of eating is right for you.
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Release Your Body’s Toxins
Fasting is one of the most powerful ways to remove toxins from your body. When you’re fasting, your body burns fat for fuel. The name of this process is lipolysis. It helps mobilize the fat-soluble toxins stored in the fat, which allows your body to release the stored fat.
Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity
Fasting lowers insulin and blood glucose levels. If you have an insulin resistance diagnosis, then you must know that this is a precursor to several more serious health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Other chronic diseases
When you fast, glucose levels fall and the pancreas produces less insulin. When insulin levels fall, the body gets the cue to release energy and burn your fat stores.
Decrease Your Inflammation And Gut Health
Fasting reduces inflammation not only in the gut but in the entire body. It also strengthens the gut barrier that protects the digestive system from bad bacteria. 80% of your immune system lives in your gut. When there is a disruption to your gut microbiome, you also impair your immune function. Fasting helps reset this process and reduce gut permeability, also known as leaky gut.
The Bad: The Risks Of Intermittent Fasting You Need To Know
As you can see, intermittent fasting has some great benefits. Like with anything else, it’s not safe for everyone. Here are some risks or warning signs that it may not be right for you.
Avoid If You Have An Underlying Eating Disorder
Fasting is not typically recommended for those who have underlying eating disorders or have spent years under eating. If chronic dieting has been an issue in the past, then it’s important to keep the focus on bringing the body back into balance. If you’ve tried all the diets and nothing seems to stick, it’s time we customize a plan just for you. Fill out my application and let’s work towards your fitness goals together.
Detoxification Doesn’t Work If You Aren’t Already Showing Love To Your Liver
Supporting the body’s detoxification pathways is also important. Intermittent fasting is a lot easier if you love your liver during the process. When fasting, make sure you have everything you need to support all the phases of detoxification. (Need a refresher on keeping your liver happy? Read my previous blog, Loving Your Liver: 10 Clues It’s Time To Detox Your Liver.)
Fasting Puts Stress On The Body
When fasting for long periods of time, it’s important to care for your adrenal system to make sure your hormones have support. As it can be a stressor to the body, fasting can leave you feeling worse if you do not keep your adrenal glands in balance. This may lead to anxiety, palpitations, low blood sugar, and more. Fasting must be supported with proper herbs and minerals, as well as good stress reduction techniques.
Watch Out For You Thyroid Health
Another organ system that intermittent fasting impacts is the thyroid. Many people who have thyroid disease have a problem following ketogenic diets while attempting to implement intermittent fasting. You can still enter into ketosis while fueling the body with enough carbs to keep your thyroid healthy. It does not have to be one or the other. Since the thyroid regulates temperature and energy, these are two signs you may look at to make sure you are fueling your body appropriately.