7 Common Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting

Weight Loss

As a way of eating to facilitate weight loss and boost your overall health, intermittent fasting has had a lot of buzz for a few years now. As with any eating philosophy, there is no one size fits all approach here. It can be a bit of trial and error to see if this style of eating works for you and as with any change, you really want it to be realistic and sustainable for your habits and lifestyle. So, let’s look a little closer.

What is Intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a general term for cycling between periods of not eating and eating over a period of time. The two most common ways of intermittent fasting are alternate-day fasting, where you eat hardly anything on one day, and then eat regularly the next, and 16:8 fasting, which involves fasting for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window each day.

Whilst alternate day fasting is quite an extreme diet intervention to take, eating within a smaller window each day isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it gives your body a chance to work on more restorative processes, instead of constantly digesting food and moving nutrients around the body. 

That being said, there are some side effects to look out for… here are 7 of them:

Increased hunger –  If you’re used to eating 3 main meals and snacks, you’re likely going to feel hungry for the first few weeks. The goal of intermittent fasting isn’t necessarily to eat less, just at different times, so it may take some testing to work out how much you do need to eat to feel satisfied within that eating window.

Hangry – A direct result of point number one! Deep breaths people, deep breaths… and a cup of water or tea.

Constipation – Less food, coffee, tea and alcohol can lead to slower movements at the station. It’s an adjustment and every part of your body will need to adjust.

Fatigue – Changing the window in which you eat can lead to fatigue, especially if you are training and/or you have a physically or mentally challenging job. Some people will thrive on eating over a shorter period of time, while others will really need a more even spread of food over the day.

Headaches – Headaches can present themselves as your blood sugar levels drop over the fasting period. It can also be a result of drinking less coffee (!!) and less water. Remember that it’s about intermittent fasting, not intermittent hydration, so be sure to keep your water intake up.

Over-eating – You’ve been hungry all night and morning and it’s finally time to eat. How easy would it be to binge? Not to mention, how easy it would be to slip into the mindset of ‘I’ve only got this window to eat, I should eat whatever food I can or whatever food I want’. These feelings brought on by the fasting cycle are obviously not helpful to the diet at all, and will make it impossible to see any weight loss results long term. 

Increased obsession with food – Any way of eating that feels forced or is a big deviation from how you normally eat, comes with an increased or hyper awareness of food. A little bit is helpful, however hyper-awareness and pressure to ‘stick to the rules’ of intermittent fasting at all costs, can be more damaging to your physical and mental health than any food. 

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