So what is it about fasting that has everyone jumping on the bandwagon? Fasting is something that has been around for centuries for medicinal and even religious reasons. So why is it #trending now?
I feel like I am seeing and hearing about this everywhere. Whenever that happens, you can bet I will be doing some research and sharing here.
A popular fasting “diet” is the 5:2 Diet or The Fast Diet, which is basically a plan formed around intermittent fasting. This diet was popularized by a British doctor and journalist whose guidelines are pretty simple, eat normally for 5 days out of the week and for the other two, consume only 500-600 calories (500 for women and 600 for men). There are no rule as to when to have your restricted days, just that you have at least one non-fasting day in between.
While the choice of nutrients and types of calories you consume is up to you, it is recommended to not binge or overeat on the normal calorie days and to limit junk food consumption.
I always am nervous to stand behind any type of restriction because I feel when you are told you can’t have something or shouldn’t do it, human behavior is bound to take over and make you binge.
I do however see the upside of fasting, because it seems like an opportunity to give your body and system a break, much like the time we take to repair when we are sleeping. In a world of go, go, go, it seems appealing to give ourselves a break in terms of sugary and processed foods that rule our food system and let our body repair and reset.
So what have I found out? There is SO much on the topic and it seems like the sides are split. While many medical professionals feel it is a benefit to safely fast, others feel it is a gateway to eating disorders and overeating.
I find the best way to make an educated opinion or conclusion on a topic is to weigh its pros and cons.
Top 5 Pros of 5:2 Diet
- Improved cognitive function which could help prevent the affects of alsthemizers
- Allows time for the digestive tract and cells to repair
- Helps regulate blood sugar levels and combats obesity by reducing fat cells
- Reduces anxiety and stress levels when body is put in meditative state
- Empowerment is given to those looking for a sustainable health practice
Top 5 Cons of 5:2 Diet
- Fasting may cause over-eating if individual does not have self-control
- If not done in a controlled manner, could cause extreme dizziness and dehydration
- People with a history of eating disorders should avoid this and any diet restriction as it can cause dependency and harmful effects
- A fast day coupled with physical exertion can have serious repercussions such as feeling faint, weak or drowsy
- May affect women and their cycle, when the body goes into a state of stress on fast days
So my overall feeling about the 5:2 Diet is this, proceed with extreme caution. While I am all for taking some of the load off our bodies, I also think restriction can be a very slippery slope and one you don’t want to go about the wrong way.
I naturally intermittent fast when I am feeling too full from a day filled with eating more than I’m used to or a stressful week that led me to indulge in a little too many carbs and sugar. It is best, in my opinion, to ask your body how it’s feeling and to proceed accordingly. Your body will tell you how well its running on a doughnut vs. a plate full of veggies.
We already know the answers, just finding them and trusting ourselves is the difficult part. Having a quick fix is always appealing and with the 5:2 Diet, results are expected to be as high as 1-2 pounds a week, but you must take into account the long-term of any lifestyle change. Once you get off ANY type of restriction or diet, your previous lifestyle will come back and your heath and body will reflect this.
My advice; eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, move everyday, and love your body for all it does for you. This is hard to remember all the time, but is a mantra that will get you the furthest in life.
What are your thoughts on fasting? Would you try the 5:2 Diet? I would love some insight 🙂