Home » Blogs » Food is Medicine » Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work? It Depends.

Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work? It Depends.

Intermittent fasting, or IF, is a popular dieting trend that many people use to help lose weight and feel better.

With this particular method of “dieting”, you eat during a specific window, followed by a fast, continuing this process for however you wish to diet.

While there are noted scientific benefits to this type of dieting, it is not suited for everyone. It all depends on your current lifestyle and the choices you make.

As with all diets or health plans, not everything will work for all people. The important thing is to discover what plans actually do work for you.

In this article, we will be reviewing all the basics of intermittent fasting, who should fast, and who should not fast.

The Basics of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting (IF) originated from a practice called caloric restriction (CR), which can help both reduce disease in most animals and help increase longevity as well. However, many researchers believe that it can do the same for human beings.

More advanced than simple calorie cutting, calorie restriction is a dieting lifestyle that you pursue the rest of your life.

Instead of total weight loss, CR focuses on benefits such as longevity and health that can provide means of living past 100 years.

Consistently reducing your calories can help your body absorb better nutrients for you, that in turn triggers hormesis, which is your body’s response to stress that can make you more resilient to bacteria.

IF can be an easier approach to conventional and caloric restrictive diets. Forget about regularly eating less and less. Indeed, you can alternate from not eating to days of feasting.

When Should You Fast?

The percent approach to fasting is looking back at our ancestry. Since processed food didn’t exist, our metabolism was faster (on average), our stress was lower, and we regularly ate just one or two larger meals due to our means of hunting and gathering for food.

Although we obviously can’t take a time machine back to the Paloelithic era, we can do our best to incorporate some of those dieting principles into our lives today. The best thing you can do is avoid processed foods altogether, exercise more, and limit stress altogether by spending more time outside and sleeping better.

So if you are looking to lose weight or strengthen your body and mind, fasting may be a way to sort of “hit the reset button” on your metabolism. However, it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.

Lifestyle changes such as sleeping more, having more sex, relaxing at a constant rate, and improving mental stimulation can help with your fast and turn yourself into a healthier version of yourself.

When Should You Not Fast?

If you are not currently eating a diet of lean meats and whole foods, then transitioning over to intermittent fasting can be difficult. You need to be fully prepared before you jump all the way into IF.

I suggest that you eat a diet of real, whole foods before getting into fasting.

This means cutting out all processed sugars, legumes, grains, and vegetable oils. These foods contribute to poor metabolic function, satiety, and insulin signaling.

You should also cut down your carb intake if you are overweight. If you are lean and/or regularly exercise, you do not need to worry about limiting carbs as much.

No matter what your body looks like, you will need to use your current fat as the source of your energy. This is the fule when you are fasting. Those who are overweight are better at storing fat, as opposed to burning it.

Intermittent fasting can be very helpful when trying to lose weight. However, it works even better when you are already on a strong and healthy diet plan.

Once you are on the primal diet plan, fasting will be a lot easier to accomplish. It will also be a lot more beneficial for your body.

Before beginning to fast, you should also make sure that your emotional, mental, and physical health are all in a good spot. Quickly reflect on your current situation and see if the good outweighs the bad.

Do the negative parts of life have more of an affect on your than the positive ones?

If so, IF may not be right for you at this time.

Before fasting or making any other big life changes, try to handle those negative aspects. Or, try changing your perspective and one day your problems won’t seem so bad.

It is crucial to do this before fasting because IF can add a bit of stress into your life. Adding more stress to your situation can only make things worse.

However, if you handle stress well, you can consider giving intermittent fasting a try.

To begin fasting, you should also make sure your cortisol levels are under control. This is because fasting can actually boost up your cortisol.

This is not an issue for healthy people. However, for those with issues regulating cortisol, it can become more of a problem. Issues with cortisol regulation include belly fat, skinny fat, fatigue, consistent stress, and more.

If you know you have a cortisol issue and you are currently monitoring it, you should not begin fasting. You should also put off IF if you have reason to suspect a cortisol issue.

Handle the issue first and you’ll be more likely to realize the benefits intermittent fasting.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, there is no real answer. The effectiveness of intermittent fasting varies from person to person. There are situations where IF will get results and others where it will not.

So if you are really hungry, eat something. Otherwise, you will be adding unnecessary stress to your life.

If you are already stressed, don’t use IF as it will only add more stress. If you exercise every day of the week, don’t IF. You may injure yourself and your training program will suffer without the needed fuel.

On the other hand, if you are not hungry, don’t eat. Skip your breakfast if a cup of coffee is enough to keep you going. If you are happy and live a stress-free life, consider giving intermittent fasting a try.

All in all, the best thing you can do is listen to what your body needs. Don’t eat when you are not hungry and do eat when you are. There should be no guilt associated with either.

If you want to try IF, give it a shot. Skip one meal a day or try to go just ten hours without eating.

While fasting, be sure to be about your business as you normally would. Go to work, head to the gym, and see how you feel afterward.

Do you feel weak, dizzy, or lightheaded? Did you feel your workout suffer? If so, then IF may not be right for you.

A short trial may be the best way to figure out if intermittent fasting is right for you.
Perhaps you should try making a few lifestyle changes and then try it out again. Change your diet, sleep more, or relieve your chronic stress and give it another go.

After all, we’re not perfect. There is likely at least one area of your life that you would like to improve.

So why not give it a shot? Give intermittent fasting a trial run and see if it works with your lifestyle.

Have you tried fasting before? If you have any stories or tips you would like to share, let us know below in the comments.

Photo by Ashycat

Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work? It Depends.

Dan Fries

Dan Fries is an entrepreneur and writer. He is the co-author of three highly-cited papers in the field of translational oncology research. Dan’s diverse background includes positions as a research associate at OSI Pharmaceuticals, an associate scientist at Medtronic Cardiovascular, and research scientist at both the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology and the Meyerson Lab at Dana Farber of Harvard Medical School. He currently writes about the responsible use of nutrition and supplementation as a means for treatment. To learn more about Dan and his current research you can visit his website, Corpina Nootropics.

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Fries, D. (2017). Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work? It Depends.. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from


Last updated: 16 Jul 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Jul 2017
Published on All rights reserved.