Intermittent fasting diets help with weight loss but there’s a pitfall

Geoffrey Woo, cofounder and CEO of Nootrobox, breaks
fast at a WeFast breakfast in San Francisco.

Melia Robinson

The hottest way to lose weight these days involves eating
whatever you want — on some days.

On others, you don’t eat at all.

As strange as it sounds, the diet — known as intermittent fasting
— has a lot of scientific backing. Large studies have found
it to be just
as reliable for weight loss as traditional diets
; other
studies in animals have suggested it could have other
benefits as well, such as
reducing the risk for certain cancers
and even
prolonging life

Silicon Valley loves it. One Bay Area group of enthusiasts called
WeFast meets weekly to
collectively break their fasts
with a hearty morning meal.
Facebook executive Dan Zigmond
confines his eating
to the narrow time slot of 9 a.m. to 5:30
p.m., and
many other CEOs and tech pioneers are sworn “IF” devotees

But the diet has one easy-to-miss pitfall, according to
University of Illinois nutrition professor
Krista Varady.

Varady is one of the first researchers to study intermittent
fasting in humans, and wrote a book about it called
“The Every-Other-Day Diet”
 in 2013.

“Many people who try the diet complain of things like headaches,”
Varady told Business Insider. “But the problem is a lot of them
aren’t drinking enough water.”

After going hours without eating, it can be tough to remember to
go the kitchen and fill a glass of water. Plus, since many
people on the diet notice a drop in energy during the first three
or four days, they can wind up drinking more coffee than usual,
which dehydrates them further.

The real problem, though, is that a good portion of our daily
water consumption comes from food. According to the Mayo
roughly 20% of our daily fluid intake comes from what we eat
the rest comes from drinks like water and tea.

beefsteak healthy foodBeefsteak/Facebook

Many of the vegetables we eat are mostly water —
cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, and spinach are all 92% water.
Carrots, green peas, and even white potatoes are more than
79%. Abstaining from these foods for hours at a time, then, can
put you at risk of dehydration.

Like vegetables, our bodies are also made up of a lot of water —
roughly 60% of our weight. Every cell, tissue, and organ
relies on that fluid to function. When you don’t get enough, it’s
no surprise that you can feel tired.

“Even mild dehydration can drain your energy,” according
to the
Mayo Clinic

So drink up! The Mayo Clinic recommends that most
adults consume about
14 cups a day
. If you’re fasting, you might want to up that
intake. And keep in mind that just like with any diet, the
beginning is typically the most challenging.

“In general the first five days are the hardest,” Varady said.
“Most people find the first week to be tough to adjust to this
new kind of up-down pattern. But once you get through that it’s
typically much easier.”

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Intermittent fasting diets help with weight loss but there’s a pitfall

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