I love trying new diets, seeing if I can incorporate healthier ways of eating into my daily life. As I’ve gotten older, it seems like I am developing new food sensitivities and extra weight just doesn’t come off like it used to. Like many people, I’m also genuinely curious about different ways of eating and love challenging myself this way. I always hear so much about intermittent fasting – friends always recommend it to me as a cure-all for all my bodyweight woes. I’ve heard some nutritionists tout it as a true lifestyle, while others are strictly against the practice – they say IF causes you to eat more in your window and can slow down your metabolism.
So who’s right? I delved into some *science*, which I’ll share below. To give you some light background, if you’re not familiar with IF, the premise is that you eat within a limited time window. For most people, this means skipping breakfast and eating between the hours of 12 PM and 8 PM, so basically, lunch and dinner. If you’d like more information on IF and the different structures, you can check out this article from Healthline.
The Argument for IF
Practitioners of IF claim that this is the way we were evolved to eat – hunter-gatherers didn’t always have food readily available and thus, had extended periods of time without food. Studies show that it regulates insulin and also activates autophagy, which is a process in which the body repairs damaged cell components. All of these things help us lose weight, increase longevity, and maintain overall better health.
The Argument Against IF
Harvard Medical published a study in which they listed the potential pitfalls of IF. They cite a high dropout rate, which wasn’t super concerning to me, as I was just doing a trial to see if I liked the lifestyle and results. They say that you overeat after fasting periods – your brain and hormones really want you to go crazy on calories after that. I was also mindful of this during my experiment and ate relatively healthy and as I normally would.
I have heard many nutritionists say that IF slows your metabolism, but after doing some research, this seems to have been debunked. Overall, it seems like as long as you meet your caloric needs during your fasting window, you should see benefits for your metabolic burn rate. Some doctors also recommend taking breaks from IF to keep yourself healthy.
I tried IF hoping to lose a few pounds before a trip, for a period of 2-weeks. I ate healthily and exercised, but actually, I really didn’t see any results. Maybe I didn’t try it for long enough – and I found that once I incorporated breakfast back into my routine that I didn’t feel well. I skipped dinner one day because I felt sick from starting my day with breakfast and having lunch. I’m not sure if it actually did throw my metabolism out of whack. Now that I’m back to eating in the morning, I noticed I’m way hungrier for lunch and dinner. I have friends who are in great shape who swear by IF, but I also have friends who swear by keto, vegan, gluten-free, whatever. If you’re interested in IF, I would just say, the science is there – try it and see if it works for you.
Maybe someday I’ll try it again, for longer. For right now, I’m back to enjoying breakfast.
Did you have a good experience with IF, or have a diet you want us to look into? Let us know here.