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Is Fasting Good or Bad for You?

Is Fasting Good or Bad for You?


First, the basics.

You might have already done your research but let us quickly bring you up to speed. Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that restricts eating to a specific number of hours while fasting for the rest. While there are no restrictions to what you can eat within this eating window, you are expected to avoid any caloric foods and beverages during the fasting window.

There are many forms of intermittent fasting based on the length of the fasting and eating windows, and you can choose one as you like. The best strategy is to start small with a shorter fasting duration and then gradually increase the number of hours until you’re comfortable.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

A growing pile of scientific studies shows that intermittent fasting can have numerous health benefits. The most pronounced benefit is weight loss, which is also the reason why many people follow this regimen.  Studies have proven that intermittent fasting successfully brings about a weight loss of  7-11 pounds over 10 weeks [1].

Apart from weight loss, it has been reported to improve the lipid profile, reducing LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides [1]. Fasting has also been found to reduce blood pressure and enhance heart health [2].

Studies also point out that intermittent fasting reduces your risk of diabetes, clears brain fog, and improves your sleep [3].  Another major benefit of intermittent fasting is reducing inflammation, thus relieving conditions such as arthritis and asthma [3].

One huge plus point of intermittent fasting is that it doesn’t limit what you can eat, so you can enjoy a varied diet and choose food that you actually like.

Are there any risks of intermittent fasting?

That being said, there are some downsides to this eating method as well. First of all, it can be hard to avoid food and drinks for extended periods, especially if you are just starting out. Some people experience various side effects such as headaches, low energy levels, and constipation while they are practicing intermittent fasting [4]. There’s also a chance of you feeling irritable and experiencing mood swings, if you stay in the fasted state for too long.

In addition to these minor issues, there are also some significant downsides to intermittent fasting. One such adverse effect is its potential to induce overeating and other related eating disorders [4]. You will naturally feel hungry after a lengthy fasting period and it might cause you to lose control when you start eating. This can spiral into a binge eating disorder which will then quickly counteract the benefits of intermittent fasting.

On the other end of the spectrum are disorders such as anorexia, which can be triggered by restricting food for long durations [5].

Another possible risk is low blood sugar which can even be dangerous if not addressed quickly [6]. This is especially relevant for those who are taking medications to lower blood sugar.

So, what’s the verdict?

While there are plenty of health benefits to intermittent fasting, there can be certain complications related to this eating schedule as well. You should carefully weigh the advantages against the disadvantages before trying out intermittent fasting.

Most of the side effects such as headache, lethargy, and mood swings are short-lived and will improve within a month as you get used to fasting  [7]. If you’re relatively healthy, there are no immediate risks of practicing this method, but you should be cautious if you have underlying health conditions such as diabetes or eating disorders. In such a case, it’s best to discuss with your doctor to figure out if it’s safe to follow intermittent fasting. It is also not recommended to follow intermittent fasting if you’re under 18 years old, pregnant, or breastfeeding.

All in all, intermittent fasting is an effective weight loss method that can bring additional rewards. However, it can be dangerous if you take it too far, so avoid fasts such as water-only fasts and dry fasts for prolonged periods.


[1]   “Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.”

[2]       “Intermittent Fasting: What is it, and how does it work? | Johns Hopkins Medicine.”

[3]           “Health benefits of intermittent fasting (and tips for making it work) | UCLA Health.”

[4]  “4 intermittent fasting side effects to watch out for - Harvard Health.”

[5]  “Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.”

[6]                          “Type 2 Diabetes and Fasting: What to Know | Time.”

[7]. “Intermittent fasting for weight loss - Mayo Clinic Health System.”

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