Whether you want to begin your intermittent fasting journey or have a friend that talks non-stop about theirs and you’re wondering if it’s something you might want to try, you’re not alone.
If you’re wondering whether intermittent fasting is safe to practice, especially as a female, I’d like the opportunity to share some insights on how to practice intermittent fasting safely, without depriving your body of the nutrition it needs to function.
First, you should consult a licensed medical physician before jumping into intermittent fasting. IF isn’t for everyone, and therefore, it’s something to discuss with a licensed professional.
The purpose of this post is to give you a simplified practical advice on how to practice intermittent fasting safely, without depriving your body of the nutrition it needs; it is not to provide any professional/medical advice.
Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy?
There is a lot of research on the health benefits of intermittent fasting and different reasons why each person chooses to practice it.
Often, people begin their intermittent fasting journey with a weight loss goal. According to a study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, intermittent fasting can be more effective for weight loss than dieting.
While intermittent fasting can help with weight loss, it’s important to practice intermittent fasting in a healthy and sustainable way that does not deprive your body of the nutrition it needs.
Intermittent fasting is more about when you eat, i.e. an eating schedule, than what you eat, a diet. While intermittent fasting you will eat foods during a window of time each day.
Related: Intermittent Fasting Schedules
Incorporating intermittent fasting as part of a healthy lifestyle can be very beneficial. The hardest part, for most people, is getting started with intermittent fasting.
So, is it healthy? Most people who try intermittent fasting only intend to restrict their eating hours but often reduce the number of calories they eat in a day. The restriction of calories is not the point of intermittent fasting; although a lot of people fall into this simply because they skip breakfast or dinner.
The goal of intermittent fasting is for the body to switch from burning glycogen to burning fat stored during the fasting period. Some studies have shown that fasting can help with fat loss once the body enters a fat-burning state.
Of course, there are other benefits of intermittent fasting for women outside of being a weight loss tool and I encourage you to see this as part of a lifestyle not a diet where weight loss is the only goal.
Is Intermittent Fasting Bad for You?
While there is little research to the negative effects of intermittent fasting; anything that is introduced into a lifestyle that restricts our body’s needs can become detrimental.
Intermittent fasting can also be risky for certain people with certain health conditions like low blood pressure, diabetes, low blood sugar, or other cardiovascular conditions. For this reason, it’s extremely important to consult with your doctor first.
When combined with drastic dietary changes or strict diets, intermittent fasting can also deprive your body of nutrients. It’s important to focus on eating a variety of healthy foods during your fasting period rather than limiting your body’s intake of food.
Yes, you can achieve your weight loss goals while eating a variety of healthy foods, without cutting calories, and still benefit from intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Risks
There are some risks with intermittent fasting for people with underlying health conditions; especially when taking medications that need to be taken early in the morning or late at night and with food.
This is one of the reasons I had to stop intermittent fasting for a period of time; because my health and the medications I needed outweighed the benefits of fasting. Again, consult your physician.
Intermittent fasting is not recommended for pregnant women or people with eating disorders or who struggled with disordered eating. Although intermittent fasting does not focus on what you can eat, for many, focusing on the when to eat can be triggering and restricting.
What Intermittent Fasting is NOT
Intermittent fasting is not skipping breakfast, it’s not a diet with restricted foods, it’s not starving yourself or cutting calories.
Intermittent fasting is about providing your body with a period of time where it is not focused on digestion. In a fasting state, your body can recover from workouts, replenish its hormonal cycles, and focus on all the functions it must do with the distraction of the digestive process.
How to Do Intermittent Fasting Safely
The best way to do intermittent fasting safely is by choosing a fasting schedule that fits your lifestyle and is not going to deprive your body of what it needs.
Outside of eating plenty of healthy foods, making sure you drink enough water to keep your body hydrated is also important.
For most people, the 16:8 intermittent fasting approach will be the least restrictive and one that is not difficult to incorporate into a busy lifestyle. This is where you eat all your meals, without restricting calories, during an 8-hour eating window and fast (not eat) for 16-hours.
According to metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, says “there is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective.” But still she recommends that people “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them.”
Don’t know where to get started with intermittent fasting? Check out my ultimate post on How to Start Intermittent Fasting.