What Are the Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting?

Numerous advantages of intermittent fasting (IF) include weight loss, the prevention of diabetes, and a decreased risk of developing cancer. Many IF adherents claim that it has taught them to appreciate food more and distinguish between hunger and cravings. They have also been able to overcome weight loss plateaus thanks to it.

According to Wendy Scinta, M.D., president of the Obesity Medicine Association and a member of Prevention’s Medical Review Board, “IF makes you feel good because you’re getting rid of the inflammation.” I use the 16:8 diet and have discovered that when I recommend IF to patients who want to lose 100 pounds but are having trouble dropping the final 15 pounds, IF helps them reach their goal.

But IF isn’t for everyone, and it’s important to be aware of its side effects of Intermittent Fasting(Dr. Scinta doesn’t advise it for people with a history of disordered eating or for pregnant women).

Following any type of intermittent fasting method, you should be aware of the following side effects.

1. Novices might experience hypoglycemia.

You may initially experience hypoglycemia, which is a condition brought on by extremely low blood sugar levels. According to Dr. Scinta, this can result in headaches, an elevated heart rate, lightheadedness, and nausea. Oh, and bad moods—nobody is content when they are limiting their food. According to Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D.N., nutrition and wellness specialist, author of Eating in Color, and creator of the FLR VIP program, “when you don’t eat, your body will first burn the glycogen (stored glucose) in your liver and muscles (hence feeling irritated at first), then it will begin to burn fat for fuel.” Dr. Scinta claims that hypoglycemia lessens as your body becomes more keto adaptive and learns to run on fat rather than glucose.

Largeman-Roth advises eating something, even if it’s just a small snack, if you consistently feel lightheaded or queasy. She asserts that losing weight is never a sufficient excuse for collapsing.

And make sure to eat filling, nutritious foods at meals. Your blood sugar levels during your fast will be kept in check if you eat lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil. These foods also give your body the nutrients it needs to function properly.

Remember to eat frequently, including snacks, when you are not fasting, according to Dr. Scinta, who frequently notices that people following the IF diet struggle to get enough protein. Aim for consuming at least one gramme of protein per kilogramme of body weight each day, she advises.

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2. You won’t be as hungry for processed food and carbohydrates.

According to Dr. Scinta, many IF adherents do a better job of maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Because IF requires you to stop eating at a specific time, you’ll eat more filling foods before your fast, like lean protein and fiber, to keep you satisfied. Dr. Scinta says, “What I’ve discovered with IF is that it’s helped me watch my carb intake.” You’re not only eating more, but also less of the unhealthy foods.

Through the release of hormones that suppress the appetite, IF additionally encourages satiety. According to a 2019 study from Obesity, IF may help overweight adults with lower ghrelin levels—the hormone that increases hunger—and improve people’s ability to switch between burning carbs and fat for energy.

“Some people eat at night not because they are hungry but because they are bored or stressed. It might be possible to prevent them from overeating by placing restrictions on when they can eat “Says Largeman-Roth.

People frequently mistake thirst for hunger, so Dr. Scinta and Largeman-Roth advise people to stay hydrated while fasting.

Dr. Scinta claims that people who fast in the morning tend to forget to drink water and instead consume large amounts of coffee, a diuretic. Water is essential for every bodily process, so maintaining hydration is crucial, according to Largeman-Roth. We obtain 20% of our daily water requirements from the food we consume, so when we fast, we lose a significant source of hydration, according to her.

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3. Your insulin sensitivity will increase.

Despite not losing weight, men with prediabetes who followed IF improved their insulin sensitivity, according to a 2018 study published in Cell Metabolism. Exactly how does it operate? When you eat, your body releases the hormone insulin to transport blood sugar into your cells, where it is used as fuel. However, insulin doesn’t work well in people with prediabetes, so their blood sugar levels stay high. By allowing more time between meals, your body will produce less insulin.

Dr. Scinta advises patients taking insulin-dependent medications to speak with their doctor before beginning IF because it may reduce the efficacy of their medication. According to Dr. Scinta, people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who are taking these medications to lower their glucose levels must eat regularly to avoid blood sugar spikes.

4. Your exercise routine might suffer.

It’s completely safe to follow IF and exercise, but you’ll need to change your schedule to avoid running out of energy. Let’s say you adhere to the 5:2 diet: On days when you’re limiting calories, performing low-impact exercises rather than more strenuous ones like weight lifting, running, and HIIT can help your body adapt to the new demands. The intensity of your workouts won’t matter as much as your body gets used to using fat as fuel.

Dr. Scinta advises timing your workouts at the start or end of your fast because the last thing you want to happen is to pass out during your HIIT class. In this manner, you can eat a snack before or after working out. Smoothies, low-fat yogurt, and peanut butter on toast are good pre-workout foods because they are simple to digest, while a bowl of oatmeal or other dish with a higher carb to protein ratio is the best post-workout food.

For this reason, if you’re very active, health professionals advise choosing the 16:8 diet over the 5:2 diet and other forms of intermittent fasting.

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