Intermittent Fasting and Why You Shouldn’t Do It


This is a very trending weight loss strategy but here is the truth and what you need to know. Four major reasons NOT to try this ridiculous strategy …

Rebound overeating

Limiting food intake to just eight hours each day or severely restricting calories a few days a week are two popular fasting approaches which lead to intense cravings, preoccupation with food, and rebound binge eating, particularly for women. Some who attempted to cut off eating after 4pm (with the intention of eating again at 8am) have reported that after hours of lingering thoughts about food, or watching other family members eat, they just couldn’t take it anymore, and wound up raiding the kitchen and eating far more than they would have on a typical night. Others, who attempt to eat no more than 500 calories a day, two non-consecutive days each week, often begin daydreaming on fasting days about what they can eat on nonfasting days, and end up eating decadent goodies more often, like baked goods, pizza, chips, and ice cream. The lesson: even if this tactic has “worked miracles” for a friend, co-worker, or family member, you are missing a lot of the picture, read on.

Poor sleep

Intermittent Fasting can lead to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. This effect can not only wreak havoc with daytime energy, but a plethora of studies have shown that sleep length and quality are strongly associated with weight control. Too little sleep has been shown to increase hunger, up cravings for sweet and fatty foods, reduce the desire to eat healthy foods like veggies, and trigger excessive eating overall and weight gain.  For these reasons, fasting is not an optimal strategy for many people. In fact, some studies show people got out of bed at 3am after waking up, and you guessed it, wound up either eating, drinking alcohol, or both, in order to fall asleep, not a good recipe for weight loss or wellness.

Fewer nutrients

One of the biggest downfalls with fasting is it compromises overall nutrition by limiting the intake of veggies, fruit, even lean protein and healthy fats, which are strongly tied to keeping metabolism revved, boosting satiety, and reducing inflammation, all critical for weight control.  This is especially the case when people become focused on calorie counts rather than food quality.  If you do decide to try intermittent fasting, which you shouldn’t or even a modified version, make every morsel count by sticking with naturally nutrient rich whole and fresh foods.

Muscle loss

Unfortunately, fasting doesn’t trigger your body to break down only your fat reserves. While that would make weight loss so much easier, metabolism is a bit more complex. Your body burns a combination of fat and carbohydrate and after about six hours or so.  When carbohydrates aren’t being consumed and your body’s backup stores in your liver have been depleted, you begin to convert some lean tissue (muscle) into carbohydrate. The ratio of how much fat to muscle you lose varies depending on your body composition, protein intake, and activity level.  Research shows that in women, a higher protein intake is needed in order to lose less muscle mass (not offset the effect completely), but many women report when they fast, they crave carbs, which may lead to a loss of muscle while maintaining body fat, the opposite of their intended goal.

Bottom Line:  There is no short cut.  Eat clean, lots of fruits and veggies, lots of water and consistent exercise.



ref., american medical journal, weight-loss journal