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To fast or not to fast?

intermittent fasting

Fasting, in a number of forms, is getting a lot of media attention with many ‘trusted’ celebrities advocating its benefits.

I get asked my thoughts on it ALL the time!

But before I share my experience and knowledge, let me define the different popular approaches.

  • Windowed fasting. Intermittently skipping one or two meals per day, resulting in a ‘window’ of eating – usually 8-10 hrs.
  • Single day fasting. No food from the evening of day 1 to the morning of day 3 – a span of 36 hours.
  • Multiple day fasting. No food for 48 hours or longer.
  • 5:2 intermittent fasting. 2 days per week restricted to 500-600 kcal per day, whether consecutive or separated by one or more days of unrestricted eating.

So, should you or shouldn’t you do it?

Well, it all depends (of course!!)

It can suit a small minority of people, you may be one of those.

But I often see more problems than solutions, even with myself.

I tried it for a long while but experienced:

  • Serious over-eating during the ‘allocated’ eating time – on the verge of bingeing.
  • A constant preoccupation with food.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Low mood.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Irregular menstrual cycle.
  • Hanger!!!!

And I didn’t lose weight or feel any better for it!

Of course, I blamed myself for not having enough willpower before realising that actually, it just isn’t right for me.

But there are some benefits:

  • Lower calorie intake, which may or may not be healthy for you.
  • Overcoming mindless snacking.
  • Larger meals that satisfy hunger.

It can also stimulate autophagy which is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells.  But this can happen with any reduced energy expenditure.

The bottom line is that if intermittent fasting works for you and it doesn’t impact your mental or physical health, then do it!

But if it does:

  • make you miserable
  • stop you from having a social life
  • lead to uncontrollable urges
  • leave you feeling lifeless (and soulless)

then please do not put yourself through unnecessary torture.