Fasting is a long-standing practice, but intermittent fasting, a diet strategy that alternates between set eating and non-eating intervals, has recently risen to extreme popularity thanks to a number of endorsements from famous people and tech titans.
Fans and enthusiasts of fasting assert that it boosts energy, focus, and weight loss.
For most people, intermittent fasting is safe. Intermittent fasting does have a few modest adverse effects, research has found. Additionally, not everyone should make this decision. We’ll discuss why intermittent fasting may be risky and dangerous for some people in this article.
People refer to eating practices that regularly include fasting periods when they consume extremely few or no calories as intermittent fasting or 16/8 Intermittent Fasting.
Numerous health advantages of intermittent fasting have been linked in studies, including:
- slim down
- reduced heart disease risk factors
- blood pressure reduction
- increased sensitivity to insulin
- decrease in oxidative stress indicators
- improved control of blood sugar
Intermittent fasting is proven to be beneficial to health and there is some data to support that. According to a small study that was published in the journal Obesity, people who ate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. had decreased appetites and body fat.
However, intermittent fasting can lead to excessive eating behaviours, just like any diet. A single meal on weeknights followed by a weekend deficit is what Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey practises, which some nutritionists believe to be a sign of an eating disorder.
Fasting may occasionally have more harmful side effects than positive ones. Here are a few indicators that a fasting schedule should be avoided if possible.
1. Experiencing headaches and dizziness
The common negative effect of intermittent fasting is headaches. They often happen in the first several days of a strategy for fasting.
A 2020 review examined 18 studies on individuals following intermittent fasting plans. Some individuals in the four studies that included side effects reported having slight headaches.
It’s interesting to note that “fasting headaches” normally originate in the frontal lobe of the brain and typically have a mild to moderate degree of discomfort.
Furthermore, persons who frequently suffer from headaches are more likely than those who don’t to do so while fasting.
Researchers have hypothesised that headaches during intermittent fasting may be caused by low blood sugar and caffeine withdrawal.
2. Digestive problems
You can encounter digestive problems such as bloating, nausea, constipation, and diarrhoea if you practise intermittent fasting.
Some intermittent fasting regimens’ reduced food consumption may severely impact your digestion, leading to constipation and other side effects. Additionally, dietary adjustments related to programmes for intermittent fasting may result in bloating and diarrhoea.
Constipation can get worse due to dehydration, another frequent side effect of intermittent fasting. This makes maintaining appropriate hydration while engaging in intermittent fasting crucial.
Selecting nutrient-dense, high-fibre foods may also aid in preventing constipation.
3. Your constant concern over your next meal may indicate orthorexia
Orthorexia, a disorder that is characterized by a fixation with healthy eating, can develop as a result of dieting in general. The need to constantly discuss your diet and concern with your next meal are two indications that you may have orthorexia.
Dietitian Alissa Rumsey of New York City explained that one overall symptom is when your diet starts to become rigid. That involves changing or postponing social gatherings because your eating habits don’t allow for them.
4. Your sleep, which is vital to your health, can be disturbed by intermittent fasting
There is some preliminary evidence that preventing nighttime awakenings by intermittent fasting can improve sleep. People who begin their fast early typically have an eating window that closes well before bedtime. This aids individuals in avoiding nocturnal munching, which can enhance sleep quality.
Additionally, intermittent fasting can interfere with your sleep cycle or cause insomnia. Numerous studies have revealed that fasting might reduce the amount of REM sleep you get, which is thought to enhance memory, mood, and learning potential.
5. Bad breath
An unpleasant side effect of intermittent fasting for some people is bad breath. Lack of salivary flow and an increase in acetone in the breath are the causes of this.
Your body uses fat as fuel while you fast. Due to the fact that acetone is a by-product of fat metabolism, fasting causes it to accumulate in your blood and breath.
Dehydration, a side effect of intermittent fasting, can also cause dry mouth, which can result in bad breath.
6. Low energy and fatigue
According to studies, some people who use different forms of intermittent fasting report feeling drained and unmotivated.
You may experience weakness and fatigue as a result of intermittent fasting’s low blood sugar levels. Additionally, intermittent fasting may produce sleep disruptions in certain individuals, which can contribute to daytime fatigue.
Studies suggest that intermittent fasting, particularly when your body adjusts to regular fasting intervals, can actually lessen fatigue.
As we have already mentioned, the body excretes a lot of water and salt in the first few days of fasting. Natural diuresis or natriuresis of fasting are terms used to describe this process.
You risk dehydration if this occurs to you and you don’t replenish the fluids and electrolytes your pee removed.
Additionally, those who engage in intermittent fasting may overlook or under-hydrate. This might be more prevalent when you first start intermittent fasting practice.
Drink water all day long and pay attention to the colour of your urine to ensure that you are well hydrated. It should ideally be a light lemonade colour. If your pee is black in colour, you may be dehydrated.
Malnutrition may develop from extremely prolonged fasting periods combined with inadequate food replenishment. The same is true of diets that continuously cut calories without proper planning.
On a variety of intermittent fasting regimens, people can often meet their calorie and nutrient needs.
However, if you don’t carefully plan or adhere to your fasting programme for an extended length of time, or if you purposefully restrict calories to an extreme level, you risk developing malnutrition in addition to other health issues. Never reduce your calorie intake too much.
You can develop a safe plan with the optimum number of calories and nutrients for you with the assistance of a healthcare practitioner with experience in intermittent fasting.
9. You stop getting your period or start losing hair
Some persons who practise intermittent fasting may have calorie deficits, which may lead to hair loss and irregular or skipped periods. Low blood sugar might cause people who follow an intermittent fasting diet to feel cooler than usual.
10. If you have symptoms of anxiety, despair, or antisocial behaviour, your diet may not be healthy
When intermittent fasting begins to have an impact on one’s health, which includes a change in mental and social behaviour, such as an increase in anxiety and depression or a decreased capacity for social interaction, it turns into disordered eating.
Who needs to refrain from intermittent fasting?
Although some people might find intermittent fasting to be a wise decision, it’s not suitable or safe for everyone. Some people who practise intermittent fasting may be at risk for adverse health consequences.
The following individuals should generally refrain from intermittent fasting, according to healthcare professionals:
- those who are expecting or are breast- or chest-feeding
- young kids and teenagers
- senior folks who are weakened
- those who are immuno-challenged
- those who have had or now have eating disorders
- dementia patients
- individuals who have experienced severe brain damage or post-concussive syndrome
There are certain exceptions, and this list is not all-inclusive. For instance, doctors have employed fasting to treat childhood epilepsy in children.