Is Intermittent Fasting Worth It? Know The Pros & Cons Of Intermittent Fasting - And Why It Doesn't Always Work As Well For Women

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Health And Wellness

Intermittent fasting is less of a diet and more of a dieting pattern. The name itself is actually an umbrella term for all of the diets that cycle between a period of fasting and eating for a certain period of time. Sometime's it's also paired with calorie restriction for further weight loss.

But is it safe to go 12-20 hours a day without food? Here's what you need to know.


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How intermittent fasting works.

There are essentially two categories of IF — whole day fasting, and time-restricted feeding.

Whole day fasting involves one-day fasts, where you fast for 24 hours a few days throughout the week. Time-restricted feeding is when you eat for only a certain number of hours each day. There are several versions of the time-restricted fasting diets, including the famous "Warrior Diet" and "Alternate Day Fasting". 

The most common (and easiest for beginners) schedule is fasting for 16 hours and eating only in the remaining 8 hours. This can go as extreme only eating for one hour a day and fasting for the other 23. There are a lot of different recommendations for what you can eat while doing this, ranging from only water to small meals. The whole day fasting became popular in the UK in 2012 after the documentary Eat, Fast and Live Longer, aired. 


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Pros and benefits of intermittent fasting.

Before starting IF, you should meet with your doctor since certain conditions can make it unsafe. Several people have pointed out that fasting has been part of life for a very long time, whether due to religion or during winter when food was scarce. The process has shown to be very helpful in weight loss, and also creates other health benefits. 

While people obviously lose weight while fasting, a lot of participants have reported increased muscle mass and better performance at the gym. Getting lean quickly without drastically changing what you eat and maintaining muscle mass is one of the best things about the program.

Some studies even show that fasting can help lower blood sugar, inflammation, improve heart health, and may protect against Alzheimer's. 


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Cons of intermittent fasting.

Just like any diet, it can extremely hard to stick to an IF lifestyle. It has a very high drop-out rate, basically, everyone quits after a few days.

If you have a history of eating disorders or are underweight it is strongly recommended to stay away from IF, since it can be triggering and put you back into dangerous old habits. 

If you choose to eat high-calorie foods when you do eat during fasting, it could also start a cycle of binge eating, which is very dangerous and can result in bulimia. It also might not make you lose any more weight than just cutting calories the conventional way. 

Also, if you want to get in on one of the meal prep programs for this, it'll cost you about $300 a week. 

In women IF has been shown to lower your glucose tolerance so much that it can actually slow down your metabolism and make it even harder to lose weight. Also specifically for us women, the fasting cycle can trigger sleeplessness, anxiety, and irregular periods. For people like me who struggle to get a good night's sleep and just got their period in order, fasting might not be the best bet for you. 


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The bottom line.

If you want to try IF, decide which course works best for you and make sure you stick to it. While you lose weight make sure your keeping tabs on the rest of your health too just in case it starts to lack elsewhere. There are just as many success stories for IF as there are failures, as with any diet, as long as you're willing to commit to the process, it'll give you back great results. 


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Josie Fuller is a writer who studies Journalism and Women's Studies at The University of Florida. When she’s not researching writing about astrology, love and relationships, she enjoys spending her time watching Bob's Burgers and baking.