Intermittent fasting is a weight loss tool that has proven to be effective over the last few years. But for anyone who is just getting started, learning about its advantages and disadvantages can help in making the right choice, especially when picking a suitable variation. After all, just like anything else in life, a little time investment at the beginning will always pay dividends in the long term.
So here are common pros and cons of intermittent fasting that every beginner should know:
1. It’s an effective tool for weight loss
Even though a normal dietary approach of 3 to 5 meals a day may work for losing weight, IF can help you achieve the same results in less time and better food quantity for each meal. This is because normal food intake is condensed into 1 or 2 big meals a day. Giving you more satiation everytime you eat.
2. You’ll get to eat your favorite food
Another advantage is that dessert and fast food are allowed (as long as they don’t comprise more that 30% of your food intake). But while it may be tempting to eat more junk than whole food, IF is primarily designed to help you stay healthy too, hence the 30% limitation.
Well, unless healthy living is not your priority.
3. Helps you to stay healthy
As mentioned, this approach helps you stay healthy for various reasons, such as decrease inflammation, maintain lean body mass, and burn more fat.
For a more detailed article about the effects of intermittent fasting on the body, check out our article here.
4. Can eat larger meals
It’s anyone’s dream to eat larger and delicious meals. And with IF, you are able to do that without gaining weight.
This is achievable because skipping breakfast (or even lunch) will add more calorie intake at the end of the day once the feeding period kicks in. In turn, you’ll get to eat twice or even thrice the amount while still maintaining your body weight (or even lose fat).
5. Is a flexible dietary approach
Unlike other diets where you’re limited to either a low carb-high fat or high carb-low fat meal plan, IF allows more flexibility, leaving you the freedom to switch between low or high carbohydrates anytime you want, as long as calories are kept equal.
1. It’s not for everyone
While IF can certainly provide weight loss benefits, it’s not effective for everyone. Especially for individuals with medical conditions such as Peptic Ulcer, Diabetes, or Metabolic disorders where guidance from a medical professional is vital.
If you’re diagnosed with these conditions, consult your local physician first for appropriate guidance.
You’ll get hungry for the first few weeks
Hunger is a common problem for the first few weeks. And that’s the reason why most people can’t keep up until their body has adjusted.
The trick for sticking on this dietary protocol is — well, bite the bullet.
Losing weight isn’t easy. And maintaining a fit and healthy body takes will and determination. But as long as you’ve made up your mind to be able to eat larger and tastier meals without gaining fat, then fasting will be as easy as taking a shower (provided of course, you’re willing to experience hunger at first).
2. You’ll tend to binge during feeding hours
Another common disadvantage of IF is the almost unavoidable urge to overeat during the feeding window.
It’s understandable. The idea of abstaining from food for the next 16 to 20 hours after the last meal will make anyone want to stuff up on food to avoid hunger. But the more you give in to this craving, the more it becomes a habit, the slower you’ll achieve your goals.
That’s why sticking too whole foods that will make you satiated will fight off this tendency, eventually help you calm down and form healthier habits.
3. You can easily get upset over food
If you’ve ever experienced looking forward for your favorite food for days only to get disappointed in the end, that’s how some of your IF days will be.
It’s pretty much a common scenario. Abstaining from food for hours and looking forward for that golden meal of the day can make any IFer excited to enter the feeding window. But if that meal isn’t properly planned ahead, a bad meal can easily get you frustrated. That’s why strategic meal planning can help you turn that feeding hour into a golden opportunity to savour delicious food.
4. Social Interference
If you’re the type of person who enjoys hanging out with friends frequently, then IF may present with a barrier.
Social interference can be a problem. In fact, when it comes to health and weight loss, peer pressure plays a vital role in staying consistent with any dietary method. And intermittent fasting is no exception. That’s why just like meal planning, making appointments ahead of time with family and friends is important.
A good strategy is to schedule them around lunch or dinner so as to coincide it with your feeding period, hence avoiding breaking the fast too early. If in a restaurant where healthy food choices is an option, go for a high protein meal with plenty of vegetables on the side. If in a fast food, make sure not to over binge. The last thing you want to do is eat excess calories only to add weight rather than losing it.
Certainly, IF helps in achieving a desired weight. But before jumping straight into this dietary regime, knowing about its pros and cons will help you decide if it fits your lifestyle.
As the old saying goes, “there is no one size fits all diet”.