How to know if intermittent fasting is right for you
by Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski
Skipping breakfast or missing meals due to a busy schedule occasionally happens to everyone, but that doesn’t mean it should serve as an invitation to an extreme dieting lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting has recently been increasingly touted as the key to weight management and increased longevity, but is it right for you?
Before embarking on any dietary regimen, it’s essential to evaluate your health status. If you have existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or hypoglycemia, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional before attempting IF. Certain medical conditions might be exacerbated by fasting, making it unsuitable for some individuals. Some studies suggest, for example, that women should avoid frequent fasting due to how it can impact hormonal balance and endocrine function.
SETTING A GOAL
Like any health or fitness routine, understanding your goals can guide your decision. If your primary goal is weight loss, intermittent fasting might be a consideration due to its potential to create a caloric deficit. However, if your goal is muscle gain or athletic performance, you should carefully assess if fasting aligns with your energy and nutrient requirements. Muscle requires fuel to repair and grow, so if strength training is in your fitness repertoire, you may want to consider a nutrition plan that better aligns with your routine.
MAKING A HABIT OF IT
Your daily routine also plays a significant role in determining whether IF is feasible. Fasting schedules can vary widely, from the 16/8 method (fasting for 16 hours, eating during an 8-hour window) to alternate-day fasting. If your lifestyle permits adhering to these time- restricted eating patterns and you can manage your hunger and energy levels effectively, IF might be a viable option.
When trying IF, pay attention to how your body responds during the initial phases. Some people adapt well to fasting, experiencing increased mental clarity and sustained energy levels. Others struggle with irritability, fatigue or intense hunger. Monitor how your body reacts and give yourself time to adjust before making a final decision.
However, if you have an unhealthy relationship with food, for instance, if you struggle with chronic dieting, IF can be exceptionally triggering and may not be suitable for individuals with a history of disordered eating. Evaluate how fasting might impact your mental well-being and whether it aligns with a healthy and positive mindset toward food.
Determining whether intermittent fasting is the right nutrition strategy for you requires a holistic assessment of your health, goals, lifestyle and emotional well-being.
It’s important to understand that no matter the potential health benefits, IF is considered an extreme diet. Before fully committing to this protocol, seek guidance from registered dietitians or healthcare providers. Remember that the ultimate goal should be adopting a sustainable and balanced eating pattern that supports your overall well-being.
Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski is a certified nutrition counselor, weightlifting coach, life coach and stress-management specialist.
All health-related content and media provided by Cooperative Living or its website(s) is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.