To Fast or Not to Fast?

Fasting…. As in abstaining from food for a period of time voluntarily?!? Huh? Ah, no thank you unless you want to see my head start spinning and me flying between hurling abuse at people & shaking in a corner. Heard the term “hangry”? Pretty sure they made it up after seeing me without food for a period of time. It is hungry x angry & it is NOT pretty. I have been known to burst into tears from hunger, that is generally following the lead up of being a total crazy bit$h prior to said melt-down.

SO, we have obviously established that fasting is not for me but could it work for you? I am neither for or against the idea, I just find it fascinating and think that everyone should find what works for THEM.

Intermittent Fasting or IF as it is popularly known right now seems to be all the buzz. The likes of Mark Sisson & Chris Kresser have done it, Stefani Ruper of Paleo for Women says it is NOT for females. You can make up your own mind by reading more in those links about the arguments for & against.

So what is IF & why are people doing it? IF is essentially food restriction done via implementing ‘eating’ & ‘fasting’ windows. A fairly common regime is a 16hr fast/ 8hr eating window so one might fast from 6pm-10am and eat freely the rest of the time. Some of the health benefits seen through trials have been increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, stronger resistance to stress, positive effects on endogenous hormone production, increased mental clarity & weight loss.

All of those benefits seem to hold many caveats from all the research I read. The abridged version is as follows:

Forget about Intermittent Fasting if-

* You are not getting enough quality sleep (ideally 7-8hrs minimum)
* You are stressed (either mentally, physically or emotionally), fasting is a stressor which will have the opposite effect you want it to if you are already producing too much cortisol from existing stress.
* You are OVER TRAINING – this is obviously different for everyone but once again, exercise is a stressor so they same as above applies.
* You are female- this is not steadfast but doesn’t seem beneficial from my research ESPECIALLY if you are pregnant/breast feeding or trying to become pregnant- You need food & nutrients not restriction.
* You suffer from disordered eating
* You are not already following a really clean & nutritious diet already with adequate fats, protein & carbohydrates.

If you are going to try IF the recommendation seems to be-

* Eat intuitively- eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full
* If you are hungry between meals you probably did not eat enough
* Sleep well
* Keep stress low
* Maintain an exercise regime that supports this & doesn’t produce excess cortisol
* Listen to your body- IF is not for everyone & if your body is telling you so, STOP.

So that’s my take on IF. I won’t be doing it. What do you think? Now someone bring me some food. Quickly. All that talk of not eating has made me hungry.

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4 thoughts on “To Fast or Not to Fast?

  1. Tatum says:

    Well said, it’s good to hear someone else’s take on it. The fact the FAST Diet as been published with that name makes me kind of angry, when I was running earlier in the week I saw a well groomed older lady (late 50’s, early 60’s) sitting in her car, by the beach and reading the damn book, I kind of wanted to tap on her window and ask her why.

    I do not like the idea of 5:2 really at all. The mentality really is not far removed from binge and purge even if there is some sound medical science as far as giving your body a break however I think a 500 calorie/day intake is extreme.

    As an endurance runner I would obviously be bonkers to even consider it at the moment but in my off season I plan on adopting an 8 hour eating window/16 hour fast but that is because I know my body well and if I’m weight training in the morning I know that once I start eating I don’t want to stop until I’m done, do that twice a day and I’m sure I’ll be a happy lady 😉

    Tatum

  2. I think each to their own Tatum & good on you for knowing your own body well enough to know what it needs. I know that there is no way I could get the calorie requirement & minimize stress to myself by inflicting an ‘eating window’ on myself.

  3. Maja says:

    Ha ha, I feel your pain girl, I can’t go without a meal and quite frankly, it’s just not safe. For those around me. I turn into a right b*%ch! Time for a snack now 🙂 x

  4. Maja I freaking know!

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