Who Should Try Intermittent Fasting?

Diana J. Smith

On this episode of The WERD, I’m discussing who should and shouldn’t try intermittent fasting. We’ll also cover the benefits of intermittent fasting and whether it’s a good option for weight loss.

Today’s question is – should I try intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting can be a helpful tool for reducing your risk of chronic disease, improving your metabolic health, and potentially even increasing longevity.

So who should and shouldn’t consider IF?

Here are my criteria…

1. Are you pregnant or nursing?

If so, fasting is not for you. Restricting calories is never safe during pregnancy and doing so while breastfeeding will seriously jeopardize your supply, as adequate caloric intake is necessary to produce milk.

2. Are you trying to lose weight?

If so, I’d suggest starting elsewhere. While research does show that intermittent fasting usually results in weight loss, it’s not due to any inherent aspects of fasting – it’s simply due to the fact that people have fewer hours to eat, so they usually eat less.

Fasting does not increase energy expenditure. In studies where participants consumed the same amount of calories in different windows of time, there were no differences in weight loss.

I’d suggest starting with easier more modifiable aspects of your diet. Can you balance your plate better? Can you opt for more whole plant foods? Can you try practicing mindful eating? 

If you try all of these things and are still struggling with managing your weight, then by all means give IF a try.

3. Do you have a history of eating disorders or disordered eating?’

If so, fasting is not for you. Restriction in any form is a slippery slope for those with a history of eating disorders. Just don’t do it. There are plenty of other ways you can optimize your diet and health.

4. Are you looking to reduce your chronic disease risk and said no to all of the previous questions?

Then, yes! Intermittent fasting may be for you.

A growing body of research supports the idea that intermittent fasting may help improve markers of cardiometabolic health like insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress and reduce your risk of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes.

I advocate what I call “common sense fasting.” That means eating during your normal waking hours and fasting at night when your body is less primed to handle nutrients.

This could look like a schedule of eating from 7 am to 7 pm.

As always, lifestyle factors will impact your ability to stick to a routine like this. If you have a robust social life, it may be difficult to have dinner at 6 pm at night – unless your crowd prefers the early bird special.

I say, go easy on yourself – good health is about what you do on a regular basis, don’t stress if you can’t stick to IF every day.

Also, don’t stress if you can’t do it at all. I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for the past three years so I haven’t done it in a while. But I’m confident in the fact that practice many other positive dietary habits.

And that’s The WERD!

Weigh-in: Have you tried intermittent fasting?

– Whitney


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