Should You Avoid Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) aids in weight loss and offers health benefits. However, it might backfire for those suffering from certain disorders. Ditch fasting if you've a viral fever as the body needs nutrition and energy during this time. IF might also worsen eating disorders, gallbladder disorders, and chronic stress. Fasting might put people with heart disease under the risk of electrolyte abnormalities. Lastly, intermittent fasting might put pregnant women at risk of gestational diabetes.

We all tend to slip up and overindulge every now and then. Whether it’s at an office party, a family get together, or a trip to our favorite restaurant, we tell ourselves that it’s okay “just this once,” only to feel guilty later. But, what if we told you that there’s a diet out there that doesn’t police what you eat?

Here’s where intermittent fasting comes in. This highly popular diet can be surprisingly flexible, especially when it comes to what you eat.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a time-restricted eating regime where you get to decide when you’d like to fast. You could either choose to fast on one day of the week, skip a meal each day, or restrict yourself to eating within a specific time frame each day.

Popular for aiding in weight loss and helping people manage chronic diseases, this convenient fasting technique lets you indulge yourself occasionally.1

Unfortunately, there’s never a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to nutrition and weight loss. What works for you may not work for someone else. Hence, it’s important that you listen to your body and determine what’s best for it, no matter how popular the approach may be.

With this in mind, there are certain health conditions that don’t agree with intermittent fasting and make good reasons for you to avoid it.

1. If You Have A Viral Infection

A steady supply of nutrition is vital for your body. And, this is doubly true when you’re feeling under the weather.

Our bodies lose nutrients during an infection. This could be due to several changes that sickness brings about including

  • Decreased intestinal absorption of nutrients.
  • Direct loss of nutrients in the gut.
  • Use of the body’s resources for metabolic responses to fever.

There’s also an increase in energy expenditure during a fever.2

Hence, regular nutrient supply is important for your body during sickness. And, intermittent fasting may not help you do that. So, if you’re down with the sniffles, then it might be time to hit pause on fasting and gorge on chicken soup, instead.

2. If You Have An Eating Disorder

If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious eating disorder, or are recovering from one, then intermittent fasting might not be the best idea for you.

Research indicates that fasting might worsen binge eating and bulimic tendencies.3 So, be sure to talk to a professional before you try intermittent fasting.

3. If You Have Chronic Stress

Fasting might boost your cortisol levels, a stress hormone. And, if you already suffer from chronic stress, then adding to it might not be a good idea.4

Besides this, chronic stress tends to affect your digestive system and cause gastrointestinal issues.5 Most experts suggest that you space out your meals throughout the day to counter this. And, intermittent fasting doesn’t leave room for this. Hence, if you’re considering trying this form of diet, be sure to consult a professional first.

4. If You Have Gallbladder Disorders

When you fast for a prolonged period of time, the breakdown of fats by your body results in extra cholesterol being secreted by the liver into your bile.

This complicates things for the gallbladder which holds the bile until it’s needed for digestion. While there isn’t enough research to fully determine whether it’s safe for people with gallbladder diseases to try intermittent fasting, if you do plan on trying it, be sure to consult a professional.6

5. If You Have Heart Disease

If you take medications for blood pressure or heart disease you might be more prone to electrolyte abnormalities from fasting. Be sure to consult a professional before you try intermittent fasting.7

6. If You Are Pregnant

Pregnancy comes with a certain set of complications, and it’s extremely important to consult a doctor before making any drastic decisions. Research indicates that intermittent maternal fasting increased the risk of gestational diabetes. It also caused complications related to labor. So, it might be best to avoid fasting if you’re pregnant.8

Besides the above reasons, people who suffer from diabetes might also be advised to not try intermittent fasting.9 And, if you do fall under any of the above categories, you don’t have to feel dejected. A healthy diet and exercise will help you get all the results that intermittent fasting promises.

References   [ + ]

1. Aly, Salah Mesalhy. “Role of intermittent fasting on improving health and reducing diseases.” International journal of health sciences 8, no. 3 (2014).
2. Scrimshaw, N. S. “Effect of infection on nutritional status.” Proceedings of the National Science Council, Republic of China. Part B, Life sciences 16, no. 1 (1992): 46-64.
3. Stice, Eric, Kendra Davis, Nicole P. Miller, and C. Nathan Marti. “Fasting increases risk for onset of binge eating and bulimic pathology: a 5-year prospective study.” Journal of abnormal psychology 117, no. 4 (2008): 941.
4. Amoabeng, Abena Opokua. “The changes and effect of stress hormone cortisol during extreme diet and exercise.” PhD diss., Boston University, 2014.
5. Stress effects on the body. American Psychological Association.
6. Gallstones. US Department of Health and Human Services.
7. Not so fast: Pros and cons of the newest diet trend. Harvard Health Publishing.
8. Mirghani, Hisham M., and Omer A. Hamud. “The effect of maternal diet restriction on pregnancy outcome.” American journal of perinatology 23, no. 01 (2006): 021-024.
9. Not so fast: Pros and cons of the newest diet trend. Harvard Health Publishing.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.