Safety And Side Effects
Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting.
You may also feel weak and your brain may not perform as well as youre used to.
This may only be temporary, as it can take some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule.
If you have a medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
This is particularly important if you:
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
All that being said, intermittent fasting has an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if youre healthy and well-nourished overall.
The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting with a doctor first.
Here are answers to the most common questions about intermittent fasting.
What To Eat While Doing Intermittent Fasting
You can eat regular recipes when youre doing intermittent fasting, but its good to keep protein and carb count in mind. Counting macros is going to be more effective than if youre just guessing. Keep the protein high and the carbs lower, and youll be thrilled with your intermittent fasting results!
Start Reducing Your Eating Window
Your eating window is the time within which youre permitting yourself to eat. So, if youve managed to balance your blood sugar and remove snacking it should be pretty easy to get to 16 hours. That said, you can start with just 12 hours of abstinence and work up from there if you prefer. You can also, go beyond 16 hrs, all the way to OMAD territory one meal a day. But, lets not get distracted, 16 is the goal!
- The hands-down easiest way of reaching 16 hours with minimum fuss and zero pain is this, have an early supper.
- Skipping breakfast can be replaced with more sleep and/or some exercise. Because were no good at digesting and working out at the same time the minute you start huffing and puffing your hunger will vanish into thin air and youll be nearer your goal!
- If you feel hungry before your fast is up try drinking a large glass of water if that doesnt cut it try a black coffee and get busy with something. Last resort is watching TV.
The earlier your evening meal the quicker the 16 hours will seem to go. Bear in mind, you should be asleep for about 8 hours, thats halfway there already! Lets look at what 16 hours actually looks like on the clock, infographic below.
The most frequent mistake I see people making is this: they only do Monday to Friday.
its not all about weight loss.
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Drink Plenty Of Water
Some religious fasts restrict all food and beverages, including water, as part of the observation. If, however, the guidelines for your fast allow for consumption of water, staying hydrated will help you avoid dehydration, maintain your energy levels and lessen side effects like headaches, cramps and irritability.
Why Dont Most People Fast Anymore
Probably 4 main reasons:
First, it got a lot easier to find food . Not to mention theres a fast food restaurant or convenience store on every corner.
Second, the food industry did a lot of marketing, and convinced us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and other things that arent based on science.
Third, sugary processed foods taste really good, and theyre addictive.
Fourth, the government has also gotten involved , with dietary guidelines that are also not based on science.
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Is It The Same As Carb Cycling
The cyclical ketogenic diet is often compared to carb cycling but its not the same thing.
Carb cycling involves cutting carbs on certain days of the week while upping your intake on others. Typically, each week is divided between 46 days of lower carb intake and 13 days of higher intake.
While the method is the same, carb cycling doesnt reduce overall carb intake drastically enough to reach ketosis.
Carb cycling is often used to promote weight loss, boost athletic performance and encourage muscle growth .
The cyclical keto diet involves modifying the standard keto diet with days of higher carb intake to bring your body in and out of ketosis.
What Is The Most Popular Way To Do Intermittent Fasting
The most popular way to intermittent fast is the 16/8 method also known as the Leangains Protocol. This involves counting your calories and limiting your food intake for 8 hours a day and fasting for the remaining 16. Within this 8-hour window, you should fill up on healthy nutrients and try to balance every meal with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and good sources of protein.
This method is popular because it is generally a lot less restrictive than other forms of dieting and requires minimal effort when considering the potential benefits. Because you will be fasting for long periods of time, you will have a lot less to think about. Counting calories during this method isn’t as pivotal as it is with other forms of dieting, either. If you are looking to do more extreme versions of fasting, this type would definitely be the best one to start with. As stated previously, however, please consult your doctor before embarking on this journey.
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What Do People Mean By Intermittent Fasting
Most often, intermittent fasting refers to short-term, daily fasting.
In other words, its shortening your eating window on a daily basis. That means youd be fasting less than 24 hours.
While I think thats the most common usage, some people use it differently.
For example, IF can also refer to fasting in the 24-48 hour range, or occasionally even longer.
Unfortunately, theres really no consistency, so you just have to pay attention to the context.
Works Well With A Nutritious Whole Foods Diet
Because intermittent fasting is focused more on when rather than what you eat, its generally easy to implement in conjunction with your current diet.
You wont necessarily need to buy any special foods or diverge much from what you typically eat.
If youre already content with the state of your current diet but looking for other ways to continue boosting your overall health, fasting might be something you want to explore.
For example, intermittent fasting might work particularly well for someone who wants to pair it with a resistance training program and a high protein diet .
Still, this isnt meant to imply that what you eat doesnt matter. Theres no doubt that youll reap the most benefits from intermittent fasting by eating a variety of nutritious foods and limiting ultra-processed foods during your eating window.
Intermittent fasting is often used to manage weight and metabolic health. The eating routine might help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood fat levels. For some people, it also works as part of a healthy long-term diet pattern.
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Increase Carb Consumption 12 Days Per Week
The second phase of the cyclical keto diet involves choosing 12 days per week to refeed your glycogen stores.
During refeeding days, you should consume more carbs in order to break ketosis.
On refeeding days:
- Carbs should comprise 6070% of your total calories.
- Protein should account for 1520% of your total calories.
- Fats should deliver just 510% of your total calories.
Though the goal of the refeeding phase is to increase the number of carbs, carb quality also matters.
Instead of relying on unhealthy sources like white bread and baked goods, you should get the majority of your carbs from healthy sources.
Some examples of nutritious, complex carbs include:
After high-carb, refeeding days, you should consider intermittent fasting to return to ketosis more rapidly.
The most common intermittent fasting method involves fasting for 16 hours of the day.
High-intensity workouts on the days following refeeding are also advised in order to achieve ketosis while optimizing muscle growth.
In the cyclical keto diet, you follow a standard ketogenic diet most days of the week, then refeed with carbohydrate-rich foods a few days per week.
Research on the cyclical ketogenic diet is very limited. Still, it may provide advantages.
Find The Best Time To Work Out
Many people make the mistake of thinking they cant work out while theyre fasting, but the opposite is true. The morning is the best time for a vigorous workout! Youre fresh and have hormonal optimization on your side.
Afternoon and evening workouts arent always as effective as they could be youre fatigued from the day, consumed with whatever new stressors landed in your lap at work, and are fighting the urge to slip off your shoes and unwind.
I was loyal to my afternoon workout routine for more than a decade, but switching to an early morning gym schedule has been a game-changer. If I dont work out first thing in the morning, I can practically see the sliding scale as I lose my opportunity throughout the day for a quality workout. Life gets busy, and the body gets drained!
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Intermittent Fasting Makes Your Brain Work Better
If you eat a very low carbohydrate diet, your body starts producing something called ketones .
Ketones are also the alternative energy source your brain uses when you fast. And it turns out, theyre good for your brain .
Here, Dr. Mark Mattson explains the science behind the brain benefits of ketones and fasting:
This probably has a lot to do with why ketones help people recover better after a traumatic brain injury. They also improve brain function in people with dementia.
Fasting is good for your brain, and will probably make you smarter.
Customer Reviews And Brand Reputation
At the time of publishing, the Forever Living C9 program has a rating of 5 out of 5 stars on the companys website based on 21 reviews, but this is likely biased.
On Amazon, the programs product package has a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Positive reviews say that the diet promotes fast weight loss and is easy to follow.
However, negative reviews mention that while you will lose weight quickly, youll regain the weight just as quickly. Other negative comments mention that the plan is expensive, features ineffective and bad-tasting products, and causes unwanted side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, and rapid heart rate.
Notably, Forever Living failed Healthlines rigorous vetting process due to unethical business practices.
Forever Living relies on multilevel marketing to sell its products. Though MLM models are not illegal, theyre predatory and often make false and extravagant claims about participants profit-making capability.
Because MLMs are historically predatory and unprofitable for downline sellers, theyre considered unethical, and Healthline cannot recommend them.
Finally, Forever Living has been involved in numerous lawsuits related to its business and financial practices and false health claims.
Forever Living C9 detox is highly restrictive and expensive. It also relies on supplements that are not backed by scientific research and are unlikely to result in meaningful and sustainable weight loss.
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Frequently Asked Questions Concerns And Complaints
Im a woman. Should I do anything differently?
I havent worked with women on implementing an intermittent fasting schedule, so I cant speak from experience on this one.
That said, I have heard that women may find a wider window of eating to be more favorable when doing daily intermittent fasting. While men will typically fast for 16 hours and then eat for 8 hours, women may find better results by eating for 10 hours and fasting for 14 hours. The best advice I can give anyone, not just women, is to experiment and see what works best for you. Your body will give you signals. Follow what your body responds favorably to.
Also, if youre a female, there is an allfemale page on Facebook that discusses intermittent fasting. Im sure you could find a ton of great answers and support there.
I could never skip breakfast. How do you do it?
I dont. Breakfast foods are my favorite, so I just eat them at 1pm each day.
Also, if you eat a big dinner the night before, I think youll be surprised by how much energy you have in the morning. Most of the worries or concerns that people have about intermittent fasting are due to the fact that they have had it pounded into them by companies that they need to eat breakfast or they need to eat every three hours and so on. The science doesnt support it and neither do my personal experiences.
I thought you were supposed to eat every 3 hours?
Here’s why this was a popular idea for a brief period of time:
Here’s the problem:
Types Of Intermittent Fasting
Lets start with the different types of fasting because understanding how intermittent fasting works will be crucial and helping you decide how to start intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is all about going through cycles of eating and fasting.
There are many ways to create these cycles. Some people make sure they have a fasting window each day, which means they are not eating for at least 12-14 hours. Others fast 2-3 times a week. The type of intermittent fasting you choose will depend on your health goal and how your body is responding to fasting. Dont worry, I will give you some tips to pick the right type for you so you can decide how to start with intermittent fasting. Here are the most common intermittent fasting types:
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Does Intermittent Fasting Have Different Effects On Men And Women
The quick answer is: yes, Intermittent Fasting can affect men and women differently.
Anecdotally, we have many women in our online coaching program that swear by Intermittent Fasting, while others have had adverse effects.
Lets dig into the science and studies.
A recent PubMed summary concluded thatfasting can be prescribed as a safe medical intervention as well as a lifestyle regimen which can improve womenâs health in many folds .
Now, in that extract, many of the studies cited are focused on specifically calorie restriction , and they also say that future studies should address this gap by designing medically supervised fasting techniques to extract better evidence.
Digging into the PubMed Archives brought me to the following conclusions :
One small study resulted in the following: Glucose response to a meal was slightly impaired in women after 3 weeks of treatment, but insulin response was unchanged. Men had no change in glucose response and a significant reduction in insulin response.
Another small study studied the effects on their menstrual cycles after a 72 hour fast which is significantly longer than any fast recommended in this article: in spite of profound metabolic changes, a 72-hour fast during the follicular phase does not affect the menstrual cycle of normal cycling women..
Precision Nutrition a great resource recommends not attempting Intermittent Fasting as a woman if:
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
You know your body best.
Find Something That Sticks With Your Schedule
Choosing an eating window that falls during your hectic workday, when grabbing food is tricky under the best of circumstances, isnt exactly ideal. Thats why Lori recommends that you find something that sticks with your schedule.
I like having dinner with my family. So I normally break my fast around 4:30,she says. Still, shes flexible around her fasting when she needs to be. I allow my schedule to be lenient when there are celebrations or lunch with friends, she says.
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Tips To Start Intermittent Fasting And Stick With It
Tried-and-tested tricks from IF devotees for staying on track.
Intermittent fasting has been a hot trend for years, with fans swearing it does everything from helping them lose weight to helping them stay healthy. Theres research to back up the benefits of intermittent fasting, too.
A new scientific review published in the Annual Review of Nutrition analyzed 25 studies on intermittent fasting and found that people lost anywhere from 1% to 8% of their baseline weight on this type of eating plan. Intermittent fasting can also have a positive impact on many metabolic health markers, like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and the associated weight lossespecially if you add a good exercise regimencan result in reduced risks for weight-related diseases. Basically, theres a lot intermittent fasting can do.
Of course, there is a range of options with intermittent fasting and the type you choose is ultimately up to you. One of the most popular forms is time-restricted eating. With this type, you fast for a certain period of the day and have a specific eating window. For example, you may fast for 18 hours and eat for six. Other options include alternate date fasting, which flips between having a day of fasting and a day of eating, and the 5:2 diet, which involves two fasting days and five eating days per week.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work
To understand how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss we first need to understand the difference between the fed state and the fasted state.
Your body is in the fed state when it is digesting and absorbing food. Typically, the fed state starts when you begin eating and lasts for three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. When you are in the fed state, it’s very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.
After that timespan, your body goes into what is known as the postabsorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isnt processing a meal. The postabsorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for you body to burn fat in the fasted state because your insulin levels are low.
When you’re in the fasted state your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.
Because we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, it’s rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.
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