There’s an increasing amount of evidence to support the health benefits of IF, although some studies show it’s about as effective for weight loss as traditional dieting. As with all health choices, intermittent fasting may be right for some but not others.
Want to find out if intermittent fasting is a good fit for you? Check out these key reasons to try out IF or avoid it altogether.
You don’t want to change what you eat
It seems like every fad diet has more rules than the last about what you can and can’t eat. One of the biggest appeals of IF is that it isn’t prohibitive about the types of food you eat. IF doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat. Instead of continually watching caloric intake, you consume what you want during eating periods.
If you typically skip breakfast, you might like the IF method.
If you already skip breakfast, it might be easier for you to incorporate IF into your lifestyle. For example, with the 16/8 method, fasting from 8 p.m. at night to 12 p.m. the next day is a way to advantage of the habits you already have in place.
And don’t worry if you’re a fan of your morning fuel — black coffee, tea, and water are permitted during fasting periods, according to Healthline.
If you’re always forgetting to eat the IF method could be easy for you to adapt to.
Instead of feeling guilty for realizing you still haven’t eaten lunch at 4pm, why not seize the opportunity to try IF? Extremely busy schedules lend themselves well to the 16/8 method or occasional 24 hour fasts.
If there are just a few days when you’ll be especially busy, those are ideal times to try the 5:2 method, where you restrict your caloric intake to around 400-600 calories on two days per week, according to Healthline.
If you’re often short on time to cook and clean, IF might fit well into your lifestyle.
An underrated benefit of IF is its convenience. No matter which IF method you try, you’ll eat fewer meals, which means fewer dishes to clean and less time spent cooking.
With IF you also don’t need to worry about cooking complicated new foods since you can stick with your favorite meals during eating periods. And if you’re choosing to eat healthy meals during eating periods, this means less effort to find new healthy recipes.
Trying out IF with a friend could work.
New evidence shows that your friends’ health habits can strongly influence your own. Some of the first adopters of IF were communities of co-workers in Silicon Valley who swear by the method. One Bay Area group, WeFast, meets regularly to break their fasts and has several support communities on social media.
If you’re trying out a new diet or lifestyle change, ask if a friend would consider trying it out with you. You’ll be more likely to stick with it, something that could be difficult to do with IF.
IF might be right for you if you live an all-or-nothing lifestyle.
If you’ve found you need to abstain completely from something rather than doing it in moderation, IF may be a good fit for you. By restricting your diet to cycles of complete fasting and eating whatever you like, you only have to know what time it is to know which mode to be in.
If you’ve tried a lot of other "diets" and nothing has worked for you, IF might be the next dietary change to try.
Finally, if you’ve tried out other dietary changes and nothing has seemed to give you what you’re searching for, you might want to try out IF. Some swear that IF has worked when other diets haven’t, and, according to the researchers who first investigated the method, a trial of IF is safe for most people.
Don’t try it if you have certain health conditions.
Certain hormonal, metabolic, or cardiovascular conditions may make IF and other forms of calorie restriction unsafe. These conditions include but aren’t limited to:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Amenorrhea (lack of menstruation)
- Low weight
- Low blood pressure
For your own safety, remember to always talk with your doctor before undergoing a major diet or lifestyle change.
It’s not a great idea if you need to drive or operate heavy machinery.
Everyone’s body reacts differently to fasting, and you may experience lightheadedness, dizziness, or other adverse effects, particularly during your first few weeks of trying IF, according to PopSugar. If you do decide to give IF a try, make sure your first trial is during a week when you won’t have to drive or operate heavy machinery.
IF isn’t a great idea if you’re about to drink alcohol.
Food in your stomach slows the absorption of alcohol. The Mayo Clinic warns that drinking on an empty stomach may increase your risk of alcohol poisoning. While you should always drink in moderation,drinking any alcohol during or immediately after a fast may put you at higher risk. If you know you’ll be drinking more than usual, consider holding off on trying out IF until after you celebrate.
IF shouldn’t be mixed with certain medications.
If you take medications which need to be taken at the same time every day or with meals, IF might not be for you. For example, the effectiveness of progestin-only birth control for contraception may be reduced with drastic dietary changes, according to Planned Parenthood. Other medications which might be affected by fasting include blood thinners, anti-psychotics, antidepressants, and transplant drugs.
In addition, it’s important to note that certain medications must be taken with food, including fat-soluble vitamins (A, C, and E), drugs which require food for absorption, and some medications which may upset the stomach. Make sure to talk with your doctor and pharmacist about how to take your medications safely if you’re trying out IF.
Avoid IF if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Fasting may impact fertility, according to animal studies and small trials in humans. Although evidence is not conclusive, if you’re trying to conceive, you probably want to skip starting IF, at least for now. The same advice holds for pregnancy and lactation.
If you just started a new medication, hold off on IF.
Many medications can cause lightheadedness or dizziness at first, and fasting may make these effects and other side effects worse. Make adjusting to your new medication a priority, and save trying out new diets for later.
If you travel a lot, IF might not be the best fit.
In addition to fasting’s adverse effects, it also may not fit into certain lifestyles. If you frequently travel for work or leisure, IF might not be a great fit. Changing time zones, work meetings at lunch and dinner, and an unfamiliar location aren’t conducive to strict fasting and eating schedules.
If you have an inconsistent workout schedule IF can wear you down.
Experts advise to avoid any intensive exercise during fasting periods, as adequate pre- and post-workout fuel is a must. If you exercise at different times each day, it will likely be difficult to avoid working out during a fasting period. To be safe, try to get on a more regular schedule before trying out IF.
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