‘Intermittent Fasting’ (IF) is the buzz word of the times in all conversations relating to weight management or Diabetes reversal! Having covered indepth the basics and process of (IF) in previous articles, I thank readers for the overwhelming response received. I have also received a lot of questions regarding IF and today I will try to answer most of these FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) related to IF sent in by our readers…
Reader Query: Will I lose muscle if I fast?
Dr. Trishala: Research has shown that extended intermittent fasting helps in boosting the growth hormone, which helps in gaining muscle, not losing. It’s important to make sure to achieve your nutrition targets during the eating hours, along with proper strength training to maintain muscle mass. Hence, it’s advisable to start IF under a trained professional.
Reader Query: Can I work-out during the fast?
Dr. Trishala: Yes, you can! In fact, you MUST work-out/ exercise when you’re fasting – it’s a great way to deplete the available glycogen stores and help the body switch to fat burning. Usually, some people find cardio activities like walking or using a treadmill or cycling or swimming difficult during the longer fasts, so it is advisable to switch to strength training on the fasting days.
Reader Query: Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?
Dr. Trishala: This is a common question – the answer is No! There is no science supporting this statement about breakfast being the most important meal of the day – though it’s been passed on for decades now! In fact, evidence shows the opposite! You don’t need ‘breakfast’ – just follow the simple rule – ‘eat if you are hungry, don’t eat if you are not’. Skipping the morning meal gives the body more time to burn fat for energy. And since the hunger hormone is at its lowest in the morning, it’s easy to skip breakfast and break your fast later in the day.
Reader Query: Can kids or elderly people do IF?
Dr. Trishala: Children tend to have higher energy demand while growing up and since fasting could deplete their nutrition, it is advisable for children to not fast. However, in some cases, if fasting is needed, the doctor will modify the diet and provide a schedule customised specifically for your needs. For elderly people, there is no problem if they choose to fast, provided there is no underlying illness, in which case, they should fast only under professional supervision.
Reader Query: Is there a specific eating schedule we should follow or can we eat anything?
Dr. Trishala: The definition of ‘eat anything’ can vary from person to person. Unfortunately, many of us consider healthy eating as ‘dieting’ and unhealthy eating as ‘normal’. For example, eating a chicken salad is part of ‘dieting’ and eating fried chicken is ‘normal’. We need to work on our basic understanding about nutrition, before we start fasting, so that we can maximise the benefits of IF. It is important to first decide upon what you will eat in the eating window and ensure you are getting in adequate macro and micro- nutrients, before you start fasting. It’s best to let a professional handle your meal-planning to get you started
Reader Query: Can people working night shifts do IF?
Dr. Trishala: People working night shifts often face issues of sleep deprivation and disturbed circadian rhythms. Fasting with sleep deprivation becomes extremely challenging and makes it difficult for them to reach their goals, so IF might not be the best way ahead for them.
Reader Query: Will IF lower our immunity?
Dr. Trishala: On the contrary! Research shows that Intermittent Fasting and refeeding in a timely and planned manner, helps in boosting the immune system. Sharing from my personal experience – my patients who have been doing IF for years now, were the ones who escaped easily out of Covid – most did not even contract Covid, while others escaped with minimal side effects, and recovered quickly. The common factor between all of them was – Fasting!
(Important Note: Do not fast if you are feeling unwell or going through an active infection.)
Reader Query: Will consuming lemon water with honey in the morning break my fast?
Dr. Trishala: Yes, honey will break your fast. Intermittent fasting keeps insulin levels low, which helps you shift to fat burning. The moment you take honey, insulin will be produced and your fast will break.
Reader Query: Will fasting make me feel tired or drained of energy?
Dr. Trishala: Not if you are fasting in the right way – which means mainly taking in the right nutrition and water, and getting adequate sleep. Fasting does not make you feel tired or low in energy. In fact, once you get into the groove, you will be bursting with energy even during your fasting days – as has been the experience with my patients! This is due to fat-burning, which fills you with energy. Any persistent fatigue is not the result of fasting – it’s fasting done wrongly. Connect with your health care provider to figure out other causes of fatigue or low energy
Reader Query: Can I take my regular medications during fasting hours?
Dr. Trishala: Some medicines have side effects, if taken on an empty stomach. I advise my patients to take their medicines with 1 tsp of chia seeds soaked in water during the fasting hours. In case you are on Diabetes medicines, that can put you at risk of low sugar if taken on an empty stomach. Hence, ensure to consult your doctor before starting IF.
Reader Query: Will fasting make me get acidity?
Dr. Trishala: Fasting will never make you acidic, the imbalance in your gut bacteria causes acidity. You need to first work on fixing your gut health before embarking on your IF journey. I ensure to do a ‘Gut Reset Routine’ with all my patients before we commence IF.
Reader Query: Who should not fast?
Dr. Trishala: Though IF can be safely practiced by most people, there are some who should avoid IF. These mainly include Pregnant / Breastfeeding women; women who are planning pregnancy; Underweight or malnourished people; People with eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia; People taking blood sugar lowering medicines. If any of the above are still inclined to try IF for health benefits, they should do it under strict professional / medical supervision.
Hope this helps! I look forward to your feedback and queries as always! Till, the next time, stay well!