What To Expect
When you’re starting a new eating pattern, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on all sides, so that you stay well informed. Let’s go over some of the benefits and pitfalls to intermittent fasting. If you are on medication for blood pressure, or cholesterol or diabetes, be sure and check with your doctor before embarking on a fasting protocol because the need for those medications may diminish.
Intermittent fasting is a versatile and effective weight management plan for improving both physical and metabolic well-being. Fasting promotes weight loss and improve metabolic health to help better manage body weight, reducing excess fat, and improve overall body composition. Intermittent fasting has also been shown to reduce markers of inflammation in the body, potentially lowering the risk of inflammatory conditions.
Dr. Carolyn Dean's approach stands out as it recognizes the importance of supporting the body with essential vitamins, minerals, and specialty nutrients before and during fasting to minimize energy loss and muscle depletion. This holistic approach ensures that fasting remains a safe and effective tool for enhancing overall health and well-being. By incorporating these elements into her fasting plan, Dr. Dean encourages individuals to develop a healthier relationship with food, offering a comprehensive strategy to harness the positive aspects of fasting for lasting benefits.
Intermittent fasting can also come with some negative aspects and considerations when your body isn't prepared for the change. This includes irritability and difficulty concentrating which may be challenging for some individuals to sustain over time. Intermittent fasting may also lead to overeating during the eating window for some individuals, negating the calorie reduction intended by the fasting period.
In the beginning, your body is adjusting to a new way of eating and it takes time for it to get used to it. And individuals with high energy demands may struggle more to maintain their performance levels without a consistent intake of nutrients. The good news is that most side effects are only temporary, and can be eliminated completely with a proper nutrient protocol. There are two main reasons that hunger occurs during intermittent fasting: a dependence on carbohydrates and not eating enough calories:
To no surprise, one of the most common intermittent fasting side effects is hunger. both hunger and cravings are natural responses that the body and mind will adapt to over time. Many find that as they continue with fasting, these sensations become less intense and more manageable.
Imagine that when you are hungry your biochemistry is switching to break down glycogen in your liver and your fat stores. You can imagine yourself getting thinner without any more effort than feeling a bit of hunger. Studies show that hunger symptoms usually occur during the first few days when transitioning to intermittent fasting. Thankfully, these hunger pangs tend to subside after a few days of fasting as your body adjusts to your new eating frequency.
Try drinking plenty of water and/or tea; take your dietary supplements and then feed yourself with other things: A good book. Going for a walk. Music. Meditation. Yoga. If you’re struggling with how to manage hunger and cravings, combining intermittent fasting with a high-fat, low-carb diet (during non-fasting periods) may help. With these types of foods, you'll feel more satisfied and full for longer, which can make the transition easier. High-fat, low-carb foods also provide the essential fatty acids that your body needs to produce ketones, which are needed for energy.
Headaches are a common side effect of intermittent fasting, especially during the initial stages. There are a few possible reasons why this may occur:
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! The benefits of drinking plenty of water are endless. Add ¼ teaspoon natural sea salt to each liter of drinking water throughout the day to get those vital minerals back in your body. Aim to consume around half your body weight (in pounds), in ounces of water.
Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and bloating are all common digestive symptoms that can occur when transitioning to intermittent fasting. When you're fasting, your body enters a state of "rest and digest", which means that it's not prioritizing the movement of food through your digestive system.
Another reason for constipation and bloating may be due to the fact that you're not hydrating and eating as much fiber. Fiber helps to add bulk to your stool and keeps things moving along smoothly in your digestive system.
To help avoid this issue, stay well hydrated and make sure to include high-fiber foods in your meals on days when you're not fasting. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating high-fiber foods should help relieve the symptoms. If you follow this protocol and still experience problems, you can consider a tablespoon of psyllium husk in an extra cup of water, to create the bulking fiber that keeps the contents of your intestines moving right along.
If you're used to eating several times throughout the day, going without food for an extended period of time can understandably make you feel "hangry". Cutting off the constant sugar supply can trigger withdrawal symptoms that include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. Intermittent fasting can also be difficult to stick to in the beginning, and so if you feel like you're constantly depriving yourself, that can also result in frustration.
Reframe your experience as an "experiment" and notice the benefits instead of focusing on the frustration. Try to stick to shorter fasting periods at first, such as overnight fasting, and gradually work your way up to longer fasts. This will give your body time to adjust and make it easier to stick to your fasting plan. Finally, be patient with yourself and don't expect perfection. Intermittent fasting is a tool that takes time to master, so cut yourself some slack and know that any side effects are temporary. Try playing around with your fasting schedule or adding in a little more food during your eating window to help take the edge off. Avoiding processed and sugary foods and beverages will also help to keep your blood sugar levels (and mood) more stable.
If you're fasting and noticing that your breath isn't smelling too great, don't worry - you're not alone! Bad breath is a common side effect of fasting, and there are a few reasons why it can happen. When we fast, our bodies go into a state of ketosis, which means that it has begun the process of breaking down fat for energy. This can lead to an increase in ketones in the blood, which can contribute to bad breath.
Make sure you're drinking plenty of water. This will help keep your mouth moist and prevent dryness, which can contribute to bad breath. Be sure to brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth and gums clean. You can also keep a whole clove in your mouth as an aromatic breath mint and anti-infectious agent. Don’t chew the clove but gently scour it with your teeth until you taste the clove oil, then let it sit in your mouth. You can swallow it with a sip of water when it’s soft.
During fasting periods, especially in the early stages of adopting this eating pattern, the body is adjusting to a new energy source as it switches from glucose to stored fat, working harder to burn stored energy. This transition can cause you to feel fatigued and running on low energy levels. This is especially true if you are new to fasting or if you’re fasting for a long period of time.
Fasting can create a deeper level of dehydration, which can further contribute to feelings of fatigue and tiredness. That is why supplementing with electrolytes is a common suggestion when starting a fast.
In order to combat fatigue, it's important to stick with your intermittent fasting program and add high-fat foods like fatty keto meats and healthy fats. Switching from a primarily carb-heavy diet to a high-fat one can help improve mental energy, without the fatigue. In addition, keep in mind that magnesium plays a key role in energy production for the body. There are 1,000’s of mitochondria in each cell that convert the food you consume into usable energy. This energy is stored in ATP, an energy-carrying molecule that requires magnesium to transform into its active form. When magnesium levels fall, so does energy production, leading to feelings of fatigue. Along with a balanced, whole food diet - you can add a highly absorbed liquid magnesium supplement to help maintain your levels.