Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. People are using it to lose weight, improve health, and simplify their lifestyle. It can be helpful for in-shape people who have a good relationship with food and don’t want to follow a conventional diet, or for anyone who wants to learn the difference between body hunger and mental hunger.
IF focuses on when you should eat instead of what you should eat, so it’s not so much a diet as it is an “eating pattern.” Common IF methods involve daily 16 hour fasts, or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week. If that sounds like a party and you’re ready to get onboard, here are 6 questions to ask yourself before you jump in with both feet.
Yes: Intermittent fasting is an effective way to restrict calories, which ultimately can drive fat loss. Hooray, IF might be for you!
No: While it is certainly possible to gain healthy weight and bulk up while fasting, it’s extremely difficult because of the amount of calories you have to consume in a limited period of time.
Yes: If your profession involves hard, physical labor, it can be pretty taxing on your body. Not eating for a portion of that work day could deprive you of the fuel you need to perform at your very best. You may want to consider an alternative to IF.
No: If you have a desk job or spend the majority of your day in a seated position, then you shouldn’t have any issues moving forward, except for an occasional rumbling reminder from your stomach.
Yes: One of the biggest mental hurdles of IF and the source of so much misguided judgment is the idea that hunger is inherently bad or dangerous. If you fall in this category, IF can still work for you, but you will probably need to change your mindset to be successful. Don’t look at it as starving yourself; you’re teaching yourself to appreciate food and be in control of your appetite.
No: If you’re in the troop of thinking hunger is actually good for us, then IF shouldn’t be a difficult transition. Once you dictate the terms of your eating schedule, your body follows suit and you begin to recognize the real need for food versus the temptation to eat out of boredom or emotion.
Yes: So, you’re one of those folks that becomes a version of the Hulk when hunger strikes. Fasting can leave you feeling hungry, fatigued, and downright irritable, so doing it for long periods of time can put you in a perpetual state of MEAN. If this is you, IF may not be in your best interest, or you can consider a plan that has the majority of your fasting occurring during the night.
No: No food? No problem. If skipping a meal doesn’t have you skipping a beat, then IF can be a great tool to add to your health and nutrition arsenal.
Yes: It’s probably best to hit the brakes. Before adopting intermittent fasting into your life, focus on the general principles of good nutrition like eating well-balanced, whole foods. Once you have a handle on that, then you can consider it.
No: If you have a healthy relationship with food, understand basic nutrition, and aren’t looking for a quick fix, then feel free to proceed. Congrats, IF might be for you!
Yes: If you are hyperglycemic, diabetic, taking medication, or are pregnant/breastfeeding, prolonged stints of fasting can be a shock to the system and the effects on your body can be more pronounced. It’s best to consult your doctor before moving forward, just to make sure you are considering all the factors and taking the best care of yourself.
No: Healthy as a horse, huh? Well then, put that fork down and take the IF plunge. If you feel good when fasting and find it to be a sustainable way of eating, then it can be a very powerful tool for losing weight and improving health.
Intermittent fasting is great for some people, and not for others. The only way to find out which group you belong to is to try it out. Just keep in mind that IF is a tool, not a magic fat loss wand (that would be a Fairy Godmother to keep around!) With the right mindset and approach, you can use intermittent fasting to work towards achieving the results you’ve always wanted.