I love it when eating disorder traits become dietary trends… ya no.
Intermittent fasting (IF), otherwise known as starving yourself, is a prime example of how we turn something dangerous and slap the label “health” on it.
Now, whether or not IF is beneficial for the general population, I am concerned about the population coming from an eating disorder background or a place of being malnourished.
In my opinion, which has been heavily shaped by the research I have studied, IF is not beneficial both mentally and physically for those coming from a restrictive background with food. It’s just too dang close to the dangerous ed habits for it to be healthy. In fact, I will argue that it IS a disordered eating habit given a fancy name that makes it seem socially acceptable to do this very disordered thing. Sorry, just had to be blunt.
If we think about it for just one second, before we dive into the research, how would depriving yourself of the very thing your body needs to survive be the *key* to health and longevity? How would limiting the time you can eat be beneficial in helping you nutritionally rehabilitate your body? How would not eating for a couple of hours in the morning be the thing that signals safety to your body? How would fasting till noon create trust with your body that food is not scarce?
It doesn’t and that’s my main concern.
If that doesn’t make you want to stop IF I would like to introduce you to a woman named Dr.Stacy Simms.
She gave a famous Ted Talk called, “Why Women Are Not Small Men” which highly recommend taking the 15 mins to go listen to if you haven’t yet. Dr. Simms explains how the research on IF, and most nutritional studies, are done on men because women are well, you guessed it–too unpredictable with our menstrual cycle!
But wait! You can’t just cut women out of the studies and then completely disregard that the findings you come up with may not work at all because they are physiologically different from men! A protocol that is effective and advantageous for a 20-year-old male is way different than how that protocol would affect a 32-year-old female in her childbearing years.
Dr. Simms saw this as a huge red flag and now conducts her own research on the effects of things like intermittent fasting and low carb diets on women. Her work has been eye-opening in regards to the amount of research done that is not tested on women.
Simms says that “IF, time-restricted eating or fasted workouts are setting yourself up for;
*Relative energy deficiency in sport
*Resting metabolic rate downturns,
EXACTLY WHAT WE DON’T WANT.
Let’s look at this from an evolutionary perspective. Way back in the day men would wake up early and go hunt for food. They needed to be lean, fast, strong, and able to endure long days without sustenance. Fasting would increase their testosterone, making them stronger so that they could accomplish this task.
During this time women would stay behind to take care of the children or grow a baby in their belly. It was far more advantageous for women to store fat to ensure she had adequate reserves in case a famine occurred. Her body is designed to efficiently build up these reserves if perceived stress was upon her. What is the biggest source of stress to the body guys? NO FOOD! No food is a big issue! So, a woman’s body would slow her metabolic rate down so that she doesn’t burn through nutrition so quickly. This is optimal for survival in the short term, not the long term.
Stress to a man was advantageous. Stress to women was disastrous.
Now, while I am not waiting for my man to go hunting and bring me home food, my hormones still operate in this way. If I go the whole morning without food, my body gets scared and reacts accordingly by sending out a lot of stress hormones to make sure I survive and that my future prosperity is healthy. Cue in endocrine disorders, menstrual issues, and thyroid disorders.
Your metabolism needs enough T3 to work properly. The liver, in charge of converting most of your T4 to T3, will not be able to do so if it doesn’t have enough fuel. The liver’s fuel is glucose (aka carbs) and it needs a constant supply of it every 3-4 hours. A lack of carbs and the liver will slack on its job to convert enough T3. When you skip breakfast you are skimping out on fueling your liver which creates this whole cascade leading to hypothyroidism.
The best thing you can do for your health is to eat consistently every couple hours a balanced portion of carbs, fat, and protein. To learn more get on the waitlist for my Course on how to rev up your metabolism!
My last thoughts on IF go back to how it can affect In regards to your relationship with food, Intermittent Fasting is a sure way to harm that relationship. IF asks you to ignore your hunger cues for some arbitrary time on the clock, how does this not scream eating disorderesque!!! You should be eating MORE, honoring your appetite MORE, and taking advantage of every waking moment to fuel your body so that you get out of a state of energy debt and rev up your metabolism.
While there are many articles online that say IF will prolong your life and improve digestion you must remember the delirious effects of energy debt on the body as that will be a great path to a shorter lifespan.
You need food and you should be eating at ALL hours of the day to support not only your recovery but your health thereafter.
Apply for 1:1 coaching so that you can become resilient to the many dietary trends out there that will surely destroy your health.