The Pros And Cons Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting involves periods of eating followed by periods of fasting. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as skipping a meal or extending the time between meals to fasting for a day followed by a single day of a “normal” diet followed by another fast day.
Intermittent fasting may seem to be a fad diet, but this method of “feast or famine” has been practiced for centuries, most often unwillingly. As hunters and gatherers, our ancestors would feast when food was plentiful and then endure periods of famine until the next source of food was discovered.
There is research to support this approach to fasting, primarily for weight loss, conducted as far back as the 1930s when Cornell University nutritionist Clive McCay discovered that rats subjected to a severely calorie-restricted diet lived longer, leaner and healthier lives when compared with rats that ate at will.
There are risks involved with intermittent fasting including:
Dehydration. Drink more water while fasting to replace the fluids you are not getting from fruits, vegetables and juices.
Replace vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. You will also be taking in fewer vitamins, minerals and electrolytes, be sure to replace these nutrients.
Be careful not to overtrain during fasting periods. Your anabolic vs. catabolic states will be dependent on your feeding and fasting cycles, overtraining while fasting will force your body to “eat” bone and muscle tissue to survive, reducing or eliminating gains in size, speed or strength.
Avoid overeating. Your feeding periods should not be seen as binge eating periods. To maintain health and a healthy weight, choose healthy servings and portion sizes of natural “clean” foods during your feeding periods.
Additional considerations for young adults and young athletes:
Fasting, that is, severe restriction of calories is not healthy during periods of rapid growth. Children need protein, carbs, and nutrients, including vitamins and minerals to support bone and tissue growth. Wait until puberty or beyond and near-maximal bone length before fasting.
Extremely low carbs resulting from intermittent fasting may leave a young athlete feeling tired and weak, and may even move into a catabolic state, forcing his or her body to break down muscle tissue for energy.
For teens and teen athletes, intermittent fasting with the specific goal of weight loss should not be taken to extremes. Teenagers don’t need to get down to 7 percent body fat, but should stay closer to 10 to 15% and focus on size and strength in the gym.
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