Living in a world where obesity and the diseases that derived from it are prevalent, we often resort to healthier practices that help us with weight management. While going to the gym or running may seem like the better way to approach a healthy lifestyle, Intermittent Fasting (IF) has garnered a significant amount of attention in recent years.
Intermittent fasting claims to lead to weight loss, better metabolic health, and longer lifespan. While you may ask questions like: Can intermittent fasting be sustained as a long-term lifestyle? Or one might ask: can I do intermittent fasting forever?
Let us try and debunk the science behind intermittent fasting, its benefits and drawbacks, and find out whether we can continue it on a longer scale of time.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting is a relatively old concept. It has been observed for centuries before the modern times. Because it has been rooted in different cultures and religions, it seems like humans have been fasting forever.
The concept of intermittent fasting has recently evolved. But how is it any different from traditional fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves a cycle between periods of eating and fasting.
Fasting by Micheal Phillips teaches us about the different types of intermittent fasting. The most common methods include:
- 16/8 or 14/10 method: According to this method, you fast for 16/14 hours and eat during an 8/10-hour window. This is also known as time-restricted eating.
- 5:2 method: In this twice-a-week method, you will eat normally for five days, then drastically reduce your calorie intake for two consecutive days.
- Eat-stop-eat method: Once or twice a week, you will fast for a total of 24 hours.
Phillips’ book delves further into the different types of fasting so that you may decide for yourself which suits you best and the mental and physical benefits that come from it.
There are several short-term and long-term benefits that come with intermittent fasting. The short-term benefits include improved insulin sensitivity and weight loss. When you restrict your eating window, you will consume fewer calories, leading to weight loss.
This leads us to the most critical question: Can we do intermittent fasting forever? Can intermittent fasting be sustained as a long-term lifestyle?
While some of us might find intermittent fasting relatively easy to incorporate into our lifestyle, others may struggle with it. Dropping the truth bomb, rigid eating schedules, and fasting periods can be hard for some people.
Let us understand that each person’s body is unique. While intermittent fasting may work for some, it might not have the same impact on others. Some people have even reported disruptions to their metabolism or increased stress to the mind and body. So, individual variability is a major factor when it comes to sustainability.
Then come the psychological factors that impact the sustainability of intermittent fasting. It could sometimes make us prone to an unhealthy diet, couldn’t it? When you don’t eat for long periods of time, you may start to form obsessive thoughts about eating – devouring junk food (slurp!). Or it could lead to that guilt trip (why did I eat so much?). We don’t want that, which makes balance all the more important.
There are also social and lifestyle factors to consider when it comes to the sustainability of intermittent fasting. So many social gatherings, work-related events, and family meals only revolve around eating. If your life is full of those, how will you continue fasting? Even if you adhere to strict rules, you will have to battle temptation. You might even encounter feelings of isolation, so there’s that to keep in mind.
The Importance of Balance
Everything in life requires balance. Extremism in any manner has more repercussions than benefits. Even if your intentions are good, going to the extreme edge will have major repercussions. So what do we do?
Rather than adopting a strict all-or-nothing approach, you would be better off adopting a balanced perspective. Without being overly stringent, you could incorporate elements of intermittent fasting. And this could be a more sustainable way to reap its potential benefits.
In terms of time-restricted eating, instead of adhering to rigid fasting windows, you could narrow your eating window without prolonged fasting periods. Say, eat all your meals within a 10-12-hour window each day.
“As you sow, so shall you reap.”
You could even consider a nutrient-dense diet. By focusing on the quality of your diet rather than just the timing, you could reap incredible benefits. Vegetables, lean proteins, whole foods, and healthy fats sum up a diet that can provide many health benefits.
If you are fond of cyclical fasting, you could apply intermittent fasting on certain days of the week, like the weekends. This way, you could start following a much more typical eating pattern on other days and fast on days when needed.
Now that the importance of a balanced diet has been established, can we do intermittent fasting forever? What do you say?
Intermittent fasting offers short-term benefits that may prove fruitful over a long period of time. So, some individuals can adopt intermittent fasting as a lifestyle choice. But, we have to remember that its sustainability depends on several factors. Be it psychological well-being, lifestyle, or personal preferences, the sustainability of your choice depends on it.
So, before you make any significant changes in your diet, consult a nutritionist or read a book like Fasting: The NEW YOU(th) behind the Science and Research of FASTING to become happier and healthier, which will teach you everything you need to know before taking action.
As its name suggests, Fasting by Micheal Phillips dives deep into the realm of health and nutrition. It takes a different approach to help you get back in shape – inspiring you to regain control of your mental and physical health.
Read Fasting to learn more about the intricacies of fasting.