Intermittent Fasting: The Advantages and Disadvantages

09 April 2018
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Intermittent Fasting: The Advantages and Disadvantages

intermittent fasting


Intermittent fasting is a popular weight loss method. Also called IF, this method claims to increase stamina and motivation, boost energy, and even enhance the cognitive function.

Other literature says that it is effective in preventing cancers. While these benefits seem promising, sadly, it is not for everyone- the uniqueness of human biology dictates so.

For women specifically, the characteristic extended hours of fasting times can be disastrous to the hormones.


How does intermittent fasting work?

Intermittent fasting is going through specific number of hours without eating, usually 12 hours, but some others do it for 48 hours. The amount of time is called the fasting window, where you are only allowed to consume liquids, like tea and water.

Experts recommend that those going through fasting drink green vegetable juices with supplements to maintain the levels of vitamin and mineral within the body. IF also has an eating window, which is usually 12 to 18 hours.

Intermittent fasting is not recommended for people who are:

  • Nursing
  • Pregnant
  • Diagnosed with eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia
  • Experiencing chronic stress
  • Diagnosed with sleep disorders.


What are the Advantages of following an Intermittent Fasting Diet?

The most wonderful thing about intermittent fasting is the personalization of the time by which you can fast- it just depends on how long you can hold the non-food intake period. While there are several benefits of IF, the most popular include:

  • There is constant cell renewing cycle because the body fat keeps the body in ketosis.
  • Weight loss is sustainable.
  • There is more energy.
  • Lean muscle mass is increased.
  • Cell stress response is improved.
  • Resistance against diseases is enhanced.
  • Insulin sensitivity amongst overweight women is improved.
  • Oxidative inflammation and stress are reduced.
  • Neurotrophic growth factor production is multiplied; thereby decreasing the likelihood of developing depression and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Cognitive function is improved.


What are the Disadvantages of following an Intermittent Fasting Diet? 

Although intermittent fasting offers a lot of benefits, women’s natural sensitivity to starvation makes IF a not-so-good option for everyone.

When a female body gets signals of possible starvation, the production of hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin are immediately increased. Automatically, it will tell your body that you need to eat because you are hungry.

When there is no enough food to survive, the body shuts down the reproductive system. This is the female body’s natural way of preventing pregnancy.

If you get pregnant when your body is in the “famine” state, there is big chance that major nutrient deficiencies, worse death, will happen.

A female’s body manifests hormone issues, fertility problems, and nutrient deficiencies in many ways. For instance:

  • Hair loss
  • Pale skin
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Excess body hair
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of libido

While famine is intentional, the body thinks otherwise. Most of the disadvantages of following an intermittent diet, therefore, is related to the hormonal imbalances that it causes women. The most common negative effects are:

  • Fertility issues
  • Irregular periods
  • Amenorrhea
  • Shrinking ovaries
  • Metabolic stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping

Since hormones are interconnected deeply, an off-balance hormone could mean a systemic hormonal imbalance.

Because hormones are messengers that maintain the body’s normal functioning, a disrupted hormone messaging mechanism means a disrupted natural rhythm for energy production, metabolism, blood pressure, and digestion.


What to remember when doing Intermittent Fasting?

IF’s biggest threat to women is their hormones.  The hormones follow a delicate balance that is repeated every 28 days, on average.

Modifications on environment, health, toxin exposure, mindset, and stress-level may result to an immediate imbalance, which could only be a precursor to more complex health issues.  Sex hormones are not the only ones affected by IF.

There are measures by which you can avoid hormonal imbalance and maintain low stress levels.  The list is important to evaluate your hormones before and during the diet.

  • Do not diet at the same time

The primary concept behind IF is neither to progress to hormonal imbalance nor to get health, and eating issues. Remember, During the eating period, you have to eat. Consume calorically-dense, nutrient-dense foods to avoid significant calorie deficit.

  • Focus on the fats

To make sure that you not getting into huge calorie deficit, the diet will have to be full of nutrient-dense, healthy fats, unsweetened coconut, coconut oil, nut butters, nuts, eggs, olives and olive oil, as well as avocado and avocado oil.  Consume these and you will be certain that you will have enough calories and nutrients daily.

  • Do not do routine workout intensely

The routine workout is fine, but not usually intense during the first few weeks; until you are sure of how IF affects you.  Once the system has adapted to the diet changes, workouts will begin to manifest its effects on the body.

Initially, take walks around the park or enroll in a yoga class.  After, start to incorporate intense sessions like sprinting, jumping rope, even heavy lifts.  Do not forget, the ultimate goal is to reduce stress and balance hormones.

Intermittent fasting is a better complementary method to other effective healthy diets. According to health experts, never make this a counter tool against eating unhealthy foods like fast and processed foods.


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