By Cayla Clement
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 1 of VARSITY.
Intermittent fasting is an age-old diet where one eats their daily meals during a specific period and fasts for the rest of the day. Usually, the fasting period lasts between 16 hours a day up to 24 hours at a time. An example would be allotting a window of time each day where you can eat, say from 8am to 3pm, and then fasting for the rest of the day. You can adjust these times according to your schedule and the fasting period you would like.
— Dr. Josh Axe (@drjoshaxe) March 14, 2019
Intermittent fasting is a relatively simple diet, where you do not have to track calories or nutrients and do not have to follow a specific food list. However, to get the full health benefits of intermittent fasting, one should keep one’s diet healthy and balanced. Some health benefits that studies have found relating to intermittent fasting include weight loss, a lower risk for Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons and diabetes. Intermittent fasting can also improve memory, combat depression and increase longevity by slowing down cancer, lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Other benefits include reduced cravings for sugar, better sleep and mental clarity.
There are also risks associated with intermittent fasting, however, they are minimal. Some of these risks include burning muscle instead of fat when exercising, hunger pangs and initial headaches and low energy as your body adjusts to the new diet. Additionally, one could fall into the habit of overeating during the allotted “eating window”.
Exercising while practicing intermittent fasting is beneficial if you want to lose weight, but is it healthy when trying to build muscle? Science says that if taking a protein supplement before your workout and/or ensuring you’re getting enough protein, strength training (or any other exercise) can be elevated due to increased energy levels and stamina that comes with the intermittent fasting.
Summing up all the facts, intermittent fasting is a healthy and beneficial diet that stems back to our ancestors’ ways of eating. As long as one eats well-balanced, healthy meals with plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, intermittent fasting can combat health issues and diseases while optimizing your workouts by increasing energy, muscle growth and promoting fat loss.