Risks of Intermittent Fasting

Jan 9, 2024

Dr. Ben Connolly, ND

Dr. Ben Connolly, ND


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Risks of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has recently gained popularity as a promising approach to weight management and overall health. While many individuals have reported positive outcomes from adopting intermittent fasting, it is crucial to understand the potential risks associated with this dietary practice, especially regarding insufficient protein intake.

The Basics of Intermittent Fasting:

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting, with various methods such as the 16/8 method (16 hours of fasting and an 8-hour eating window) or the 5:2 diet (eating normally for five days and restricting calories for two non-consecutive days). Proponents of intermittent fasting claim that it can lead to weight loss, improved metabolic health, and enhanced longevity.

The Importance of Protein:

Protein is an essential macronutrient crucial for the body’s proper functioning. It plays a vital role in building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, supporting immune function, and maintaining muscle mass. Adequate protein intake is essential during weight loss, as it helps preserve lean muscle mass and ensures the body receives essential amino acids.

Risks of Insufficient Protein Intake during Intermittent Fasting:

  1. Muscle Loss:

One of the primary risks associated with insufficient protein intake during intermittent fasting is the potential for muscle loss. When the body is fasting, it may turn to muscle tissue for energy, especially if protein intake is inadequate. This can lead to a reduction in lean muscle mass, negatively impacting metabolism and overall body composition.

1. Nutrient Deficiency:

Focusing solely on the timing of eating and neglecting the quality of nutrients consumed can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Insufficient protein intake may result in a lack of essential amino acids crucial for various bodily functions. Over time, this deficiency can contribute to fatigue, weakness, and compromised immune function.

2. Impaired Recovery:

Protein is essential for muscle recovery after physical activity. Inadequate protein intake can hinder the body’s ability to repair and rebuild muscle tissues, leading to prolonged recovery and increased susceptibility to injuries.

3. Metabolic Slowdown:

Maintaining a healthy metabolism is crucial for weight management. Insufficient protein intake during intermittent fasting may slow metabolism as the body tries to conserve energy by reducing the number of calories burned at rest. This can make it challenging to achieve and sustain weight loss goals.


While intermittent fasting can offer various health benefits when done correctly, paying attention to nutritional balance is essential, especially regarding protein intake. Individuals considering or practicing intermittent fasting should prioritize a well-rounded diet with sufficient protein to support overall health, preserve muscle mass, and promote successful weight management. If you’re concerned you may not get enough protein while continuing intermittent fasting, contact the clinic to chat. 

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