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Intermittent fasting for weight loss: benefits, side effects

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Update: 2019-08-14 13:18:12
Intermittent fasting for weight loss: benefits, side effects

DHAKA: Intermittent fasting (IF) is now one of the world's popular health and fitness trends that are producing a fitter generation. IF means cycling through periods of voluntary abstinence of food, interspersed with intervals of normal food intake. 

A programme involving alternating cycles of fasting and eating, intermittent fasting promotes weight loss, improves metabolism, protects against diseases and even helps longevity.

Studies show IF can lead to weight loss, stabilized blood sugar, reduced inflammation, improvements in memory and stress resistance, slowed aging, and longer lifespan — all promising health benefits in return for considerable lifestyle changes.

IF requires minimal effort: You simply don’t eat, or eat very limited quantities, for hours at a time.

The most popular form of intermittent fasting is known as the 16/8 method. This form involves fasting for 16 hours and then eating only within a specific 8-hour window.

Intermittent fasting helps to improve body composition by demanding a caloric deficit, promoting weight loss and decreased body fat.

In addition to weight loss, fasting can help control diabetes, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, all of which are important factors that should be managed for disease prevention. 

Another study found that intermittent fasting increased sleep time, which in turn lowers blood sugar and decreases inflammation, which can be two big contributors to chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.

Some dieticians warn that ignoring hunger cues can have unforeseen consequences. One systematic review published in the journal Stress in 2016, found that IF may initially increase stress levels of fasters. The increase may subside after a few weeks of fasting. Other research says IF could cause greater metabolic fluctuations and increased appetite on non-fasting days relative to intermittent energy restriction, a diet that allows some food.

Before getting into intermittent fasting, everyone should really have a conversation with their physician. That’s especially true if you’re at high risk for health problems or complications—that is, if you’re over 65 and/or have an existing medical condition.

During intermittent fasting you might get dehydrated-Intermittent fasting is sometimes associated with dehydration because when you don’t eat, sometimes you forget to drink. Remember to pay special attention to your body’s thirst cues during fasting periods.

One might feel tired during the intermittent fasting. It’s normal to feel groggy, especially as an intermittent fasting newbie. Your body is running on less energy than usual, and since fasting can boost stress levels, it can also disrupt your sleep patterns. 

Not only will doing so help you conserve energy, but exercising while fasting could lead to low blood sugar levels, whose symptoms—such as dizziness and confusion—may increase your risk for injury.

The time of intermittent fasting you might feel irritable. The same biochemistry that regulates mood also regulates appetite with nutrient consumption affecting the activity of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which play a role in anxiety and depression. That means dysregulating your appetite may do the same to your mood. 

Again, stick to a nutritionally balanced, satiating diet during your eating periods, and remember to clock in enough sleep, which research has also linked to mood.

The long-term effects of intermittent fasting are unknown. Studies of intermittent fasting so far suggest it can help you lose weight over the course of a few months—but we don’t have the long-term data to determine whether you’ll be able to keep it off years later, or whether prolonged intermittent fasting is even safe or healthy. 

BDST: 1250 HRS, AUG 14, 2019

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