Intermittent Fasting: Should You Do It?

Intermittent Fasting: Should You Do It?

            If you really want to stir up some controversy and get a lot of visitors to your website, you talk about intermittent fasting. Except that you make it very one-sided. You’re either strongly for it, or strongly against it. And as much as I like a healthy dose of controversy, I can’t bring myself to take just one side. As you’ve heard me say at my talks, “there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Only correct application.” So let’s talk about the correct applications for intermittent fasting.

First of all, what is intermittent fasting? It’s a practice where you fast for anywhere from 14 to 20 hours every day. So your eating time is really only limited to 4-10 hours every day. There is also a variation of it where you just don’t eat for an entire 24 hours, once or twice per week.

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            Why do people choose to do intermittent fasting? There are a number of reasons:

Reason #1: It’s Convenient

Some people just find it inconvenient to prepare food for 3+ meals per day. If you’re only eating 1-2 times per day, that’s 33-66% less work.

Reason #2: It’s Healthy

Short fasts sure help you manage your blood sugar, improve your cholesterol profile, decrease free radicals, decrease your risk cancer. Heck, it might even grow your bank account, it’s so good for you.

In fact, it’s so good for you, that almost everyone is doing it anyway. We all fast for around 12 hours every day. Let’s say you eat dinner at 7PM, and breakfast at 7AM, that’s a 12-hour fast.

Reason #3: It Helps You Lose Body Fat

This is the most common reason people try intermittent fasting. Makes sense. You have fewer meals, and although you eat more at those meals, you don’t quite compensate for the full missed meal. Lower your food intake, and presto! Weight just seems to fly off.

There are also some good reasons on the other side of the fence (against intermittent fasting):

Reason #1: It’s Not Healthy

Does this contradict what I mentioned in an earlier point? Nope. Just because it’s healthy for one person in one situation, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for another person in another situation. So it’s not healthy for you if:

  • You have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • A slow thyroid
  • You are exercising a very large amount
  • You’re using it for longer than 6 months to a year.
  • You have adrenal fatigue

Reason #2: Less Food?

Yes, convenience is one argument for eating less. But come on! Food is also pleasure. Eating less means less pleasure.

Reason #3: Potential Muscle Loss

Some people can afford to lose a bit of muscle. Most of us can’t. Besides aesthetics, your muscle is required for:

  • Healthy immune system function
  • Healthy thyroid function
  • Strong bones
  • Blood sugar regulation

You eat less food, and it gets harder to sustain your muscle mass.

My Conclusion

So now that you’re more confused than ever about whether you should or shouldn’t do it, let me make some suggestions. First of all, what’s your primary objective? Are you trying to lose fat, gain muscle, enhance mental performance, or something else? If so, take a measurement of whatever is relevant. Measure your body fat (NOT your weight).

Identify if you are the type of person for whom intermittent fasting is beneficial. There are a lot of factors to consider here, including your hormonal profile, training regimen, and more. So if you need help with this, let me know.

If you find that intermittent fasting is right for you, measure your results every 2 weeks. For as long as it works, keep doing what you’re doing. Once it stops working, or you start experiencing symptoms of this going wrong (which can take 3-12 months to happen), change what you’re doing. A key principle to remember is that just because something is working for you right now, doesn’t mean that it will work 3 months from now. As I’m fond of saying in my talks “as your body changes, so should your exercise, nutrition and supplementation.”

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