Is Intermittent Fasting Really the Healthiest Choice for You?

Altered eating windows are all the rage these days. It’s difficult to go a day without hearing about the benefits of fasting; maybe you’ve already considered trying it (or have tried it) yourself.

There are many ways to fast, but one of the most popular intermittent fasting regimens is to skip breakfast to extend an overnight fast a bit longer. You’d then eat lunch and dinner as usual.

Many people who practice intermittent fasting do this daily or at least a few times per week.

Now, fasting is a way to make a slight caloric deficit a lot easier, which can be beneficial for those who are overweight, but it may not be the right choice for everyone — especially if you’re a woman.

So…how do you know if fasting is the right choice for you?

The Negative Side Effects of Fasting

I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the last few years, and I can confidently say that almost all of my clients feel better when they eat a solid breakfast.

Now, granted, I work with clients who fall into the following categories:

  • Women
  • Normal weight or very slightly overweight
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Digestive issues (usually goes hand-in-hand with adrenal issues)
  • Already eating a healthy diet

Given that I’m working with fatigued women with a normal BMI (or slightly above) who are already eating healthily, I don’t think it’s surprising that I notice that most of my clients do better when they eat breakfast.

If I was working with obese individuals with bad eating habits, I think I’d feel pretty strongly that intermittent fasting is a great tool for my clients because it helps them adhere to a caloric deficit in an easier way.

But many of my clients have experimented with intermittent fasting before seeing me, or are currently doing it when we start working together. They’ve read many an article touting the benefits and they think they should try it out.

Unfortunately, a lot of them experience side effects of intermittent fasting that make them feel worse.

In the research, we see these same side effects when women of normal weight (BMI <25) fast:

  • Excessive hunger
  • Mood disturbances
  • Heightened irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive eating-related thoughts
  • Overeating on non-restricted days
  • Possible insulin resistance

Source: Potential Benefits and Harms of Intermittent Energy Restriction and Intermittent Fasting Amongst Obese, Overweight and Normal Weight Subjects—A Narrative Review of Human and Animal Evidence

In addition to the ones we see in the research, I’d also add that issues with fertility like menstrual irregularities are really common when intermittent fasting leads to caloric restriction, especially when that’s combined with excessive exercise.

Should You Be Intermittent Fasting?

Today, I’d like to share my decision-making process with you to help you determine if intermittent fasting could be the right choice.

Intermittent fasting may be a good choice for you if:

  • You’re overweight or obese
  • You’re male

Intermittent fasting is probably not the right choice (or at least not the right choice with the current evidence, and certainly not the right choice from anecdotal evidence seen in my own practice) if you’re:

  • Normal weight (BMI: 18-25)
  • Female
  • Have adrenal fatigue or fatigue problems

Use this quick quiz to determine if it might be worth trying:

Are you overweight or obese (BMI >25)?  If yes, then you can try intermittent fasting if you’re having trouble sticking to a caloric restriction otherwise.

From there, it comes down to gender.

Are you a normal weight (BMI <25) and male? If so, there seem to be fewer risks to intermittent fasting than if you’re a female with a normal BMI. 

Are you a normal weight (BMI <25) and female? If so, intermittent fasting is probably not the right choice for you given the multitude of negative side effects seen in normal-weight women who fast.

To be on the safe side, I mostly use intermittent fasting with my male clients who are overweight. I find that most women (even those who are overweight) tend to feel better during the weight loss process when they’re eating breakfast.

Do You Need to Eat Breakfast?

If you’ve determined that eating breakfast is probably going to suit you better, you’re not alone! Like I mentioned before, most of my clients realize they feel so much better when they eat breakfast.

But maybe you’re not sure exactly what to eat for breakfast to maximize your energy…

Or maybe you don’t know how many calories you should be aiming for at breakfast…

Or perhaps you’re overwhelmed by choosing what macronutrient ratio your breakfast should be at…

Well, Laura and I recognized that many people are confused about what makes a proper breakfast and we decided to create a FREE eBook to help you eat a healthy breakfast if intermittent fasting isn’t the right choice for you.

So if you took my simple quiz above and determined that you might feel better eating breakfast, try our free 5 Day Breakfast Challenge and see how you feel. Chances are you’ll feel a lot better than if you were intermittent fasting or eating a small, inappropriately balanced breakfast. We challenge you to try it!

I’m not one for believing in “quick fixes”, but eating a well-balanced breakfast every day is the closest thing I have to a magic bullet for many of my clients. It’s truly amazing how much better most people feel when they start eating a breakfast that is appropriate for them from a calorie and macronutrient standpoint.

Plus, it’s easy! It’s one of those things that’s incredibly simple to implement and gives a big “bang for your buck” — most people feel better almost immediately once they start eating a well-balanced breakfast.

So if you think that intermittent fasting is not for you, but you’re unsure of how to make sure you’re getting an appropriate breakfast, we invite you to join us for the #5daybreakfastchallenge (make sure to tag us on social media with your breakfasts!).

When you sign up for the FREE challenge, you’ll learn how breakfast can help you banish fatigue and what makes for a healthy, well-balanced breakfast. You’ll also get 5 delicious breakfast recipes so you’ll be set for the full challenge!

Click here to take us up on the challenge!

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