Is Flexible Dieting (IIFYM) & Intermittent Fasting Healthy?

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If you have been following Kinobody, then you know we have a love affair with intermittent fasting. It is absolutely perfect for lean bulking when combined with any of our strength training courses. Some of our followers, however, have questioned whether flexible dieting (IIFYM – “If It Fits Your Macros”) and intermittent fasting are healthy. This is a valid discussion, so let’s not beat around the bushes and tackle this question head on.

Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy?

Dozens of Kinbody clients have incorporated intermittent fasting and low-volume training with amazing results. From a muscle-building and fat-loss perspective, fasting and flexible dieting do amazing wonders.

However, many people have pointed out that having a chiseled chest, tree trunk legs, and a single-digit body-fat percentage does not make one healthy. This is true; there are, in fact, many stories of bodybuilders dropping dead from a heart-attack or organ failure in their 50s and even 40s.

Furthermore, many people have questioned the validity of flexible dieting from a health perspective. This type of nutrition program, after all, is a lot more flexible than other dieting regimens and permits the consumption of everything you’re told to stay away from, such as pizza, cheeseburgers, ice cream, etc.

We understand the concerns, so let’s put these concerns at ease with some established scientific studies.

Study #1: Intermittent Fasting Reduces Type II Diabetes

In this study, subjects that underwent intermittent fasting saw an increase in insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing risk for type II diabetes.

Study #2: Intermittent Fasting Induces Autophagy

Here is another study where fasting is shown to induce autophagy. This is a cellular process where cells metabolize and break down damaged and dysfunctional protein molecules that accumulate in the body over time. Autophagy is believed to play a vital role in the prevention of several cancers, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Study #3: Intermittent Fasting Is Good for the Brain

Finally, here is a study that shows the effects of fasting on the brain. The results show that brief periods of food restriction lead to an increase in neurogenesis, or the ability of neural stem cells to create new neurons. This isn’t to say that fasting will switch on the Einstein gene in your brain, but it may offset age-related neurodegenerative disorders.

What About Food Choice in Flexible Dieting?

The studies above certainly confirm the validity of intermittent fasting. However, there is still the issue of food choice. Some people wonder whether being allowed to have bacon cheeseburgers, cheesy quesadillas, and French fries nullify the benefits of intermittent fasting.

Here is a 2002 study that examines the effects of flexible dieting vs traditional “eating clean” diets. The research involved a group of non-obese women who followed either a flexible or rigid dieting plan.

The results revealed that the rigid dieting group exhibited far higher instances of mood disturbances, eating disorders, and unhealthy self-image of their body shape.

Is “Junk” Food Really Bad?

We realize there are some health junkies out there that will still try to espouse the virtues of eating clean. However, there are a lot of grey areas when lumping food in the “good” and “bad” category. A lot of people consider bacon or any food high in saturated fats bad. This ignores the fact that saturated fat is vital for healthy testosterone production.

Some people also consider coffee bad, despite numerous studies revealing a plethora of health benefits. A Harvard study, for example, showed that regular coffee consumption reduced the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Some health circles even claim fruit is bad because it contains fructose sugar.

Here’s the deal: it all comes down to quantity. If you eat three bacon deluxe cheeseburgers and a 42-ounce soft drink in one sitting, then yeah, that’s probably not good for you. However, if you eat just one burger as part of a meal plan with steamed vegetables, lean meats, and healthy carb sources, then that is perfectly alright. Plus, it also keeps your cravings in check.

Ultimately, what counts is the total number of calories. Eating a calorie surplus combined with a sedentary lifestyle is what’s bad and makes you gain unhealthy weight.

Dieting Is Only One of Many Health Factors

Your eating habit is only one of many parameters that define the state of your health. Yet, this seems to be the aspect that health enthusiasts hones in almost exclusively on. Another big factor is, of course, being physically active. This is why courses such as the Aggressive Fat Loss program is designed for fat loss (or weight loss), muscle retention and maintaining an active lifestyle that is challenging yet manageable on a long-term basis.

There are two other factors that almost never get discussed. We’ll discuss them here because they matter just as much as what you put down your gullet.

Topical Products

The human skin is very porous, meaning it can absorb all sorts of good and bad stuff. We recommend staying away from products like shampoo, body wash, and cologne that contain artificial chemicals.

Common ingredients in shampoo, for example, contain all sort of known toxins, including triclosan, polysorbates, retinyl palmitate, dimethicone, behentrimonium chloride, and sodium lauryl sulfate just to list a few. These ingredients are known endocrine disruptors, meaning it can wreck all sorts of havoc in your organs. Stick to natural products with no fragrances.

The topical products you use matter just as much as your diet and exercise, yet hardly anyone ever talks about them.

Stress and Anxiety

Your emotional well-being also influences your physical health to a great degree. This isn’t just some metaphysical mumbo jumbo. This has been scientifically documented. There is actually a strong correlation, for example, between stress and type II diabetes. This has been confirmed by the American Diabetes Association. Under stress, the liver produces excess glucose to cope with the low mood. When the stress is constant, the body becomes overwhelmed by the glucose surge, elevating risk for diabetes.

While easier said than done, just chill out and don’t take every facet of life so seriously. Enjoy your life, go out with friends, or do whatever gives you pleasure.

Overeating is the main culprit

Most “fitness gurus” and “health advocates” talk about how eating certain foods like fast food, processed food, sugar, carbs or fat is what causes additional body fat gain. Well the real truth is OVEREATING and exceeding your daily energy (calorie) needs is the real culprit. You can consume the “healthiest” or “cleanest” foods know to man but if you consume too much of them, that additional energy (food) in any type will move to fat storage. So just eating so called “healthy” or “clean” in any sort of excess will cause you to put on unwanted fat.

Approach Health from Multiple Angles

Is intermittent fasting healthy? Yes. Is Flexible dieting healthy? Yes. When you follow these eating principles, there’s no need to dock yourself whenever you indulge on a cupcake. The moral of this post is not to over fret about your diet. What you eat is only one slice of the pie when examining the totality of your health, so please give yourself a break in the eating department.

Greg O'Gallagher

Greg O'Gallagher is the founder of Kinobody, a site dedicated to helping men and women achieve the lean, muscular, and aesthetic "Hollywood" physique. His fitness programs have helped hundreds of thousands of people transform their bodies and change their lives in the process.

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