One of the most exciting developments in the treatment of metabolic disease is intermittent fasting. The health benefits of intermittent fasting are well established, and include weight loss, improved glucose control, increased insulin sensitivity, and protection against insulin resistance-related heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Fasting has been practiced in many cultures for thousands of years, and today intermittent fasting has become a hot topic among wellness seekers and athletes alike.
“The goal with IF is improving metabolic health, reducing the risk of certain conditions such as diabetes, and increasing longevity. One theory as to why fasting may be beneficial is that during the fasting period, the body’s cells are under mild stress, similar to exercise. The cells respond to this stress adaptively by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and to resist disease.” explains Laura Kelly, nutritionist at Nutritional Genomics Institute.
What’s less known is how intermittent fasting affects every system of the body. After decades of studying the effects of intermittent fasting on weight loss, scientists are now turning to intermittent fasting’s other effects, such as helping to reduce inflammation, improve metabolism, boost cognition, and reduce the risk of degenerative diseases.
When it comes to intermittent fasting, the focus is on the positive effects, like increased energy, better cognitive function, and protection against disease. But intermittent fasting can also have negative effects, like decreased hunger and weight loss, and these must be factored in when considering any plan.
One very negative side effect of intermittent fasting is weight loss. Many intermittent fasting plans require participants to eat most of their calories in the morning, depriving their bodies of important nutrients. As a result, intermittent fasting can cause weight loss — but it’s such a drastic decrease that it can be dangerous.
It’s not recommended for anyone under 18, and women over the age of 50 should be cautious as well. If you’re trying to lose weight, intermittent fasting isn’t the answer. Instead, consider trying a calorie-controlled diet and exercise. Intermittent fasting also isn’t recommended for anyone with an eating disorder, or for anyone with a history of disordered eating.
When practiced safely, intermittent fasting can have many positive effects, like increased energy, better cognition, and protection against disease.