Does Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss Work?
Can intermittent fasting help you lose weight?
The experts agree: intermittent fasting for weight loss – not eating for hours-long periods of time at planned intervals – is safe and effective when it’s done correctly.
How Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss Works
Here’s why intermittent fasting works, according to science:
When you eat, whatever you don’t use up, you store in your fat cells.
Insulin, a hormone created in the pancreas, enables sugar to enter and stay in your fat cells.
Insulin levels go down in between meals, allowing fat cells to release the stored sugar so it can be used as energy.
With intermittent fasting, you're allowing your insulin levels to drop enough so that you can burn off fat, which means you lose weight.
What To Eat When You're Not Fasting
An anti-inflammatory diet, like the Mediterranean diet, provides all the nourishment your body needs while keeping inflammation at bay.
Foods you can enjoy on the Mediterranean diet include:
- Healthy fats
- Whole grains
Dairy is also part of the Mediterranean diet but in a limited capacity.
Another great option is a clean ketogenetic diet, especially if you have sugar-handling issues or inflammatory conditions. The keto diet can help support the immune system as it focuses on foods that offer healthy fats, some proteins, and few carbohydrates.
The keto lifestyle can boost your metabolism and curb your appetite too.
The Benefits of Fasting
Intermittent fasting, when done correctly, can result in great changes for your body.
Your cells will start to repair and you'll take in fewer calories because you'll be eating less.
Intermittent fasting helps fight the effects of aging because studies show it can reduce inflammation and lessen the damage caused by free radicals. It may also help protect you from diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.
In men, intermittent fasting may also aid in reducing blood sugar levels and lowering insulin resistance.
Intermittent Fasting Approaches
Please don't jump into fasting! The key to IF success is working with a practitioner who can best determine an individual plan for you. Here are the six common approaches to intermittent fasting for weight loss:
- 5:2 Fasting
- With this approach, your goal is to eat normally for five of seven days without counting your calories. Then choose two of the seven days to eat a total of 500 calories for women or 600 calories for men.
- Alternate-Day Fasting
- This every-other-day fast plan means that you eat normally on non-fasting days and only have liquid on the fast days.
- Choose-Your-Day Fasting
- This less strict approach to intermittent fasting allows you to pick and choose which meals you skip and doesn’t require as stringent a schedule.
- Overnight Fasting
- On this plan, you simply fast for a 12-hour period each and every day. Twelve hours is the minimum number of fasting hours recommended to start seeing the benefits.
- Whole-Day Fasting
- To do a whole-day fast, you eat dinner and then don’t eat again until tomorrow night’s dinner, for example. So you’re essentially eating one meal every 24 hours.
- Time-Restricted Fasting
- This involves a fast that lasts between 14 and 16 hours each day. If you eat between 9 am and 5 pm and fast from 5 pm to 9 am, you’ll be sleeping for a lot of the time you’re fasting.
You will need to "train" your fasting muscles before beginning an IF regimen.
Getting Used To The Lifestyle
The goal is not for you to feel like you’re starving.
I always say: Don't eat less, eat less often!
In fact, a recent study from the University of Alabama found that when researchers placed a group of obese men with prediabetes on an intermittent fasting lifestyle change, the participants weren’t feeling hunger, even with only an 8-hour eating window each day.
Any lifestyle change takes about a month of sticking to it in order for it to become routine.
While you may catch yourself going to the fridge at the wrong time, you’ll likely not do that after a few weeks.
When To Avoid Intermittent Fasting
In general, this lifestyle change is a good way to help rid your body of inflammation and unwanted fat, but not everyone should participate in it.
Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not begin an intermittent fasting diet. Also, people with certain medical conditions should consult their doctor or another practitioner before considering this lifestyle change.
Intermittent Fasting During this Pandemic
Right now, I do not recommend prolonged fasting. Shorter IFs are fine, but I advise against alternate-day fasting, water fasts, or anything longer than a one-day fast. While helpful, these also place stress on the immune system, and I do not feel it’s the best recommendation while we are dealing with Covid-19.
To your health,
The content on heartroothealth.com is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.