There is constant chatter about the latest diet recommendation in the health and wellness world. Dieting tends to refer to a period of time in which an individual is attempting to restrict their meals in order to achieve a certain wellness goal. Some of the dieting rituals we see today can become rather restrictive which can lead to frustration and feeling the need to give up on said goals.
People tend to think that dieting means that they cannot indulge in the foods they love and that they have to eliminate certain foods from their meals. This can actually lead to an unbalanced intake of nutrients, and can negatively impact their health rather than improve it. Instead, one should try to incorporate more whole foods into their diet and find ways to balance out their day-to-day meals with little to no restriction.
Today, we are going to break down a popular dieting trend and how it could be potentially impacting your digestion/health.
How Intermittent Fasting Works and Its Potential Benefits
Intermittent fasting found its spotlight a couple years back, and many people still seem to be following and rediscovering this diet trend today. When a person is intermittent fasting it means they are sectioning off a period of time in their day to eat all of their food for said day and fasting for the rest of the time. For example, a person can intermittently fast for 14 hours of their day and allow themselves to eat all their food in the other 10-hour time span. This type of intermittent fasting is referred to as time-restricted eating.
The idea behind this diet trend is that since your body is fasting for a long-period of time it will be required to use the fat stored in your body for energy. When your body is being deprived of carbohydrates — which is what it would normally use for energy — it needs to tap into other areas to gain that energy.
Intermittent fasting could potentially lower your calorie intake as well depending on the meals you are consuming during the non-fasting hours. Intermittent fasting is also known for reducing blood pressure, helping with inflammation, and reducing the potential of developing levels of stress throughout your day.
Intermittent fasting works best when combined with a diet filled with nutritious and whole foods. It also requires dedication and patience as hunger must wait for its specific time interval to be satisfied.
The Potential Drawbacks of Intermittent Fasting and What to Look Out For
There is a certain weight loss appeal to this diet trend, and while this may be true, intermittent fasting also has its drawbacks.
- A lack of guidance - While the diet seems to focus on the timing of eating, it does not give any guidance in terms of what foods a person should be eating during the meal period. Without guidance, people can end up eating foods with little to no nutritional value or high in processed sugars and fats. It is crucial that a person is sticking to whole nutritious foods when fasting in order for their body to get the nutrients it needs, and for the person to see any consistent results towards their fitness goals.
- Unstable nutrient levels - This diet can also be potentially harmful to those who struggle with stabilizing the nutrient levels in their body. For example, someone who is diabetic requires constant vigilance over their blood sugar levels, and fasting for long periods of time can cause a downward blood sugar spike. Our bodies also require substances such as carbohydrates to get us through the day, and restricting this from ourselves can lead to mood swings, stomach pain, brain fog, and lack of concentration.
- Dehydration - When our bodies are in a state of fasting, we are constantly losing the salt and water content of our body through our urine. Our body needs a constant intake of minerals and waters to feel stable and strong. This can become challenging to achieve when fasting. If you do choose to fast, be sure to increase your water intake to help with any adverse side effects of dehydration such as bloating, dizziness, and feeling weak.
While it is not a guarantee that intermittent fasting will bring on these negative effects for each person, it is important to speak with your doctor before starting to fast in order to best understand your own personal needs. While it may work for one person, that does not necessarily mean it will for another.
People with diabetes, women who are breastfeeding or pregnant, and children are not recommended to participate in intermittent fasting.
The Digestive Impact That Intermittent Fasting can Have on a Person’s Body
Intermittent fasting can be potentially beneficial to the digestive process since it allows the digestive system a chance to properly dispose of past meals. However, this usually means a smaller period of time than intermittent fasting tends to be associated with. Usually meals tend to need around three hours to work through your digestive tract depending on the status of your gastrointestinal system. Intermittent fasting can also help to release any excess toxins that might be damaging your gut lining, which in turn will lead to a healthier digestive process.
Intermittent fasting can also cause digestive problems such as constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating. People tend to start to crave certain foods and become ravenous during periods of fasting — especially if they are not familiar with fasting — which can cause them to reach for poor meal choices and increase their food intake far beyond what is normally needed for a well-balanced meal. Consuming too much food in a small period of time can lead to indigestion and irritation of the stomach.
If you find that you are experiencing digestive ailments, be sure that you are maintaining your intake of the best digestive enzymes as well as incorporating a bloating supplement into your routine. Probiotics are a vitamin that helps with bloating and helps your digestive system stay on track regardless of your diet plan.