Are there any downsides to intermittent fasting?


Intermittent fasting is a weight loss diet which focuses more on when you’re eating than what, making it an appealing method that offers less restriction to foods you eat.

However, fasting, or opting not to eat for extended periods of time, can have a number of surprising effects on your body far past weight loss. 

While it may not be the typical deprivation diet you think of when it comes to losing weight, there are downsides of intermittent fasting which are often glossed over.

Not sure if fasting is right for you?

Here are the main things you need to know about its potential impact on your body.


First, it’s worth noting that intermittent fasting can have some positive benefits for weight loss.

In focusing less on the foods you’re eating and more on the time instead, this allows you to create a healthier relationship with food that does not eliminate certain food groups or put a heavy focus on calorie cutting.

Fasting can also be useful in the treatment of diabetes and heart disease as well, making it useful for older adults hoping to lose weight and mitigate chronic health issues.

That being said, ignoring your hunger cues and forcing yourself not to eat for extended windows of time can be damaging to the body and lean into restrictive territory that may be difficult to break free from.

The downside of fasting is that it can undermine mental health / relationship with food, and create something called sarcopenia – loss of muscle mass, and also possible loss of bone mass.

When we restrict calories and protein, it’s so easy to lose muscle. It’s harder to lose fat – you have to work it differently, often with a higher protein, richer healthful fat, lower carbohydrate way of eating for those in the second half of life.


Not only this, but prioritizing your eating window as the primary factor of your diet can cause you to lose focus on creating balanced meals that offer a variety of carbs, protein and healthy fat.

It is ultimately the quality of your meals which informs the success of your weight loss, and using fasting as an excuse to eat unhealthy foods within your feeding window can undermine the health benefits of this plan.

Under Nourishing your body in your eating windows and ignoring hunger cues can also manifest in uncomfortable side effects such as headaches, dizziness, and low blood sugar.

If a person undergoes prolonged periods of fasting it can cause long term damage to their body.

It can lead to conditions such as liver and kidney problems, anemia, a weakened immune system and an irregular heartbeat. Fasting can also cause the person to lack the right nutrients, minerals and vitamins in their body.

This could eventually lead to muscle breakdown.


Extended periods of fasting may also have a negative impact on your metabolism over time, which will eventually make it more difficult to lose weight or maintain weight loss as your body burns through less food as fuel, storing the excess calories as fat.

You should never fast on consecutive days or more than 3 or 4 days a week as this will likely end with a slower metabolism and weight gain or plateau.

While utilizing fasting as a tool in the short term may bring forth weight loss results, you’ll ultimately be better served focusing on creating a balanced diet complete with carbs, healthy fat, protein, and ample fruits and veggies.

Exercising is also vital to the weight loss formula and this approach will be much more maintainable than fasting in the long run.

If you do find that you often aren’t hungry in the morning, intermittent fasting may naturally suit your body more.

However, ignoring your hunger in attempts to cut down on the amount of time you eat can be potentially damaging to your body and leave you feeling even worse than before.

Intermittent fasting may have weight loss benefits, but the reality is that a healthy diet and approach to life will offer you the same results without restriction.

If you want to avoid low blood sugar, headaches, and even digestive issues down the line by forcing yourself not to eat for hours, intermittent fasting may not be the diet for you.

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