Who Shouldn't Do "Intermittent Fasting"

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Let's talk about "Intermittent Fasting." 

If you've been anywhere around the health & fitness industry in the past few years, you've probably heard of it. Or maybe you've heard of "Eat, Stop, Eat," "Lean Gains," "The Warrior Diet," or something of the like. Basically, Intermittent Fasting is just a fancy way of saying you eat during a specific time period (or window) throughout the day and then you don't eat at all for the remainder of the day. For example, what most people do is they will eat for an 8 hour window and then fast for 16 hours (i.e. they'll start eating around 10am and stop eating at 6pm, then they won't eat again until the next day at 10am = 8 hr eating window, 16 hr fast). 

And yes, there has been a lot of research and studies done on intermittent fasting and it's effects on our health, namely blood sugar levels, satiation, digestion, anti-aging, and so on. BUT... at the same time it has definitely taken it's toll on many well-meaning people, especially girls and women, who've gotten caught up in all the hype revolving around it. 

One thing that I've noticed with a lot of the girls and women I coach is that there seems to be a pervading personality and attitude when it comes to health and fitness: PERFECTION... "more is better"... "I'm going to do ALL the 'healthy' things that are out there on the market today to the absolute best of my ability - cleanses, intermittent fasting, lemon water, cayenne pepper, skinny teas, colonics, the most innovative HIIT routine, drink a gallon of water per day, etc. etc. etc." Sound familiar?

The thing is (and you'll hear me say this a lot), it's not that these things are evil in and of themselves, but rather they become evil when we take it too far, use it for the wrong reasons and get legit OBSESSED with them... essentially revolving our lives around all these "healthy things" (which, in reality, are really making us UNHEALTHY). 

So, when it comes to intermittent fasting, let's talk a little bit about who SHOULDN'T be doing it. The first thing you gotta understand about IF is that it can be perceived as a STRESSOR on the body (not all the time, but it can easily happen especially for people who are already stressed out majorly in other areas of their lives). And your body doesn't really like being stressed, especially chronically and from all different angles  - from your diet, exercise routine, relationships, job, thoughts, etc. Just remember, stress, in all it's forms, is THE WORST thing for your health. 

Alright, so who SHOULDN'T do Intermittent Fasting?

1. If/when you start doing it, you find yourself CONSTANTLY thinking about food all the time, you should probably stop. Again, for some people this isn't the case (and that's cool!), but for others, they literally CANNOT stop thinking of food, and this is no bueno. If you're hungry, you need to eat! 

2. You find yourself constantly checking the clock for when you can/cannot eat. This is kinda like the reason above, but if you're spending all your time watching the clock to tell you when you can or cannot eat, that's not going to be very fun. What happen is a lot of people will literally starve themselves until it's time to eat, then basically eat right up until the time it's time to stop - their whole lives end up revolving around when they get to eat. If this is you, don't do it. There's more to life than looking at a clock all the time telling you when you get to eat.

3. You start noticing that after doing IF for a while, your sleep gets thrown off. You can't fall asleep, you wake up a lot during the night, your stomach is growling all night long and you just feel "off." Again, not getting enough sleep is a HUGE stressor on the body, so if you notice that since doing IF your sleep has been messed up, back off and get some sleep!

4. Your hormones get messed up or they already are messed up. If you start IF and you find that your period goes away, gets irregular, you 're super moody/impatient/hangry, and your sex drive drops, THEN STOP! Likewise, if you're already experiencing any of these things, IF is DEFINITELY not going to help the situation, it will only make it worse.

5. If you start doing IF and you find yourself literally binging out during the eating window, then you should stop. Again, a lot of people don't have a problem with this, but for many of us, this time can turn into a free-for-all and we just end up eating and eating and eating, almost as if we think we won't ever be able to eat again. Though this isn't true, we think that way and it can really sabotage your hunger signals and your health. So be careful with this! 

6. Your whole day ends up revolving around your "eating window." If you start to find yourself planning your ENTIRE life around when you get to eat, then you should probably reconsider IF. All your hobbies, friends, family, workouts, social life, and for some, even their careers can be affected by their "eating window." Hopefully you can see how this can obviously be an issue.

7. You find yourself doing IF just because you see someone on Instagram or YouTube talking about it. One thing you gotta realize is that what "works" for one person doesn't mean it's going to "work" for you... and that's ok. You need to tune-in to YOUR body and what IT likes and prefers, not what Susie is doing on Instagram. If she does IF and loves it, good of her!! But if you do it and hate it, THEN DON'T DO IT! There's no rule book to life saying you have to follow what everyone else is doing. LISTEN TO YOUR OWN BODY.

8. Let's say you start doing IF, but you soon start to lose touch with your own body. You find yourself eating when you're NOT hungry, yet not eating when you actually ARE hungry. Again, this is going to set you up for some long-term issues with hunger levels and listening to your body. So as soon as you notice this, STOP.

9. And last but not least, if you are already stressed out in other areas of your life, definitely DON'T do IF. Like I said before, IF is a stressor on the body, and the last thing you want to be is stressed, in any way at all. Remember, stress, in any way, is the WORST thing for your body, regardless of how "healthy" XYZ might be. Just remember, taking care of yourself, mentally and physically, is always THE BEST option... always.

Love yourself, take care of yourself, listen to YOUR body and do what feels best FOR YOU... that's what really matters at the end of the day :) 

Audra Taylor