Medical Perspectives | Others

April 07, 2020



Chances are one or more in your circle of friends, co-workers or family is talking and/or doing IF, one of the most popular among today’s health and fitness trends. What is all the buzz about Intermittent Fasting or IF? We’ve put together some basic must-knows to get you up to speed on this current fitness favorite.

 

What It Is

 

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern, not a diet, as it does not specify the food that you eat but the time that you should eat.[1] Some also call it a dieting pattern, describing it as a “conscious decision to skip certain meals on purpose”.[2] Another way to call it is a weight-loss approach, with different versions, ranging from skipping food for 24-36 hours or every other day diet or 5:2 Fast Diet.[3]

 

How It Works

 

The basic explanation is that when your body is in the fasted state, fat burning  becomes easier. The fasted state occurs after the body has processed and absorbed the food that has been eaten, usually 12 hours after the last. That is when fat is burned.[4] The difference between feasting and fasting is another way to describe how IF works. In the feasting phase, the body burns what has just been consumed, and not the fat that is stored. Once the body enters the fasted state, it is “more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body as it is the only energy source readily available”.[5]

 

What Medical Conditions Benefit from IF

 

The weight loss effect from IF may help manage certain ailments, one of which is type 2 diabetes. In particular, because IF helps in losing weight, the resistance to insulin is lowered, thereby helping address the root cause of type 2 diabetes.[6]

 

Another medical condition that could be helped by IF is hypothyroidism, as weight gain is easy but very hard to cut down. The under-active thyroid leads to less energy burned and consequently, continuous weight gain.[7]

 

IF has also led to reduction in inflammation and bad cholesterol, while also enhancing brain health. Indicators also show that it protects against Alzheimer’s disease and may help the in anti-aging efforts.[8]

 

Who Should Not Do Intermittent Fasting

 

While there are good health benefits from doing Intermittent Fasting, some of its effects may not be beneficial, especially in the aspect of its impact on hormones that control growth. For this reason, it is not recommended for children, teenagers and pregnant or breast-feeding women. Post-surgery patients under recovery are also not advised to go into fasting. Other types of patients who should not undertake IF include diabetes patients who take insulin, people with eating disorders and underweight persons.[9]

 

The Pros & Cons of IF

Pros:

  • restricts calorie intake and doing IF over a period of time can result in consistent weight loss and maintenance.[10]
  • helps to get lean without the hardships of other diets.
  • keeps muscle mass while getting lean.[11]
  • simple strategy for losing weight without requiring major changes in lifestyle or behavior.[12]
  • no calorie counting and
  • no macronutrient limitation[13]

 

Cons[14]

  • may cause severe hunger
  • may lead to less physical activity
  • effects on certain medical conditions and in combination medications
  • may encourage unhealthy eating
  • promotes overeating
  • not advisable as a long-term practice

 

As IF continues to hog the health and fitness headlines, the first step to do before giving it a try is to check with your doctor if intermittent fasting is appropriate for you, especially if you have a medical condition.

 


[1] Gunnars, K. [2018, July]. Intermittent Fasting 101­­–The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#what-it-is

 

[2] Kamb, S. [2019, June]. Intermittent Fasting: Beginner’s Guide & Printable Calendar. Should You Skip Breakfast? Retrieved from https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/

 

[3] Leicht, L. [2018, November]. Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/intermittent-fasting

 

[4] Clear, J. [2018]. The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://jamesclear.com/the-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting

 

[5] Kamb, S. [2019, June]. Intermittent Fasting: Beginner’s Guide & Printable Calendar. Should You Skip Breakfast? Retrieved from https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/

 

[6] Fastday.com. [2014, May]. Fasting with Type 2 Diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.fastday.com/fasting/fasting-with-medical-conditions/fasting-with-diabetes/

 

[7] Fastday.com. [2014, May]. Intermittent Fasting for People with Thyroid Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.fastday.com/fasting/fasting-with-medical-conditions/intermittent-fasting-for-people-with-thyroid-disorders/

 

[8] Clear, J. [2018]. The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://jamesclear.com/the-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting

 

[9] Fastday.com. [2014, April]. Who Should Not Do Intermittent Fasting? Retrieved from https://www.fastday.com/fasting/getting-started-fasting/who-should-not-do-intermittent-fasting/

 

[10] Kamb, S. [2019, June]. Intermittent Fasting: Beginner’s Guide & Printable Calendar. Should You Skip Breakfast? Retrieved from https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/

 

[11] Clear, J. [2018]. The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://jamesclear.com/the-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting

 

[12] Clear, J. [2018]. The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://jamesclear.com/the-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting

 

[13] Verywellfit.com. [2019, June]. Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit.com/intermittent-fasting-pros-and-cons-4688805

 

[14]Verywellfit.com. [2019, June]. Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit.com/in...

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