Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work for Weight Loss?
Intermittent fasting has helped many lose weight, but is it really any better than other diet options out there?
Of all the health and diet trends out there, intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is when you cycle through periods of eating normally and fasting–or not eating at all.
Why are so many people interested in a diet that involves large chunks of time without eating?
As it turns out, a range of studies has shown that monitoring when you eat in addition to what you eat can have powerful benefits for your weight and overall health. Plus, there are stories of individuals who tried it and transformed how they feel every day.
Types of intermittent fasting
There are quite a few ways you can do intermittent fasting. No matter how you do it, the goal is to go for extended periods of time without eating anything.
The reason intermittent fasting doesn’t look the same for everyone is that everyone will have different goals and health concerns. Below are some of the most common ways to do intermittent fasting
- The 16/8 method: This method involves breaking up each day into two different time periods. For 8 hours of every day, you can eat and fit in all of your regular meals. The other 16 hours of the day, you fast.
- The 5/2 diet: You eat normally for 5 days a week and on 2 days you limit your calories to 500-600 calories on two days of the week. The fasting days are not normally back to back, but instead would be spread out by a couple of days. For example, having your fasting days on Monday and Thursday.
- The Warrior Diet: On the Warrior Diet you eat foods that are similar to those on the paleo diet. But in addition, you also fast all day and eat a large meal within a 4-hour time frame at night. During the day you can eat raw fruits and vegetables, but no other carbs, meats, or fats until your evening meal.
You can also keep things more flexible and do spontaneous meal skipping. This method helps you tune in to your hunger cues. If you don’t feel hungry one morning, or have a low appetite all day, skip those meals. Then eat a balanced, whole foods meal when you feel hungry again.
Will intermittent fasting help you lose weight?
Intermittent fasting has been shown to help people lose weight.
The diet helps you achieve something that’s challenging for anyone to do—get into a calorie deficit.
Much of weight gain occurs because of an energy imbalance. In other words, taking in more energy than you burn each day. When you’re in a calorie deficit, you take in fewer calories than you burn. That’s how weight loss happens.
When you do intermittent fasting, this naturally cuts out large chunks of time that would normally be filled with large meals and snacks. Or it provides days where you only eat around 500 calories which is significantly less than the standard daily intake for any adult. These instances of reduced calorie intake help rebalance the energy you take in versus the energy you spend.
But is it all about calorie deficit?
It turns out, it’s not as simple as that. Our ability to thrive while fasting is in our DNA.
We’re evolutionarily prepared to have periods of fasting, and even benefit from those fasting windows of time.
A range of studies has shown that intermittent fasting helps improve your metabolism, lower blood sugar, and reduce inflammation. All of which contribute not only to weight loss but also to fewer instances of chronic and life-altering diseases. It can enhance brain function and reduce symptoms of arthritis and asthma.
Other studies have shown that those who only eat their meals within an 8-hour time frame every day have an easier time losing weight and keeping it off.
So while being in a calorie deficit helps, there are other factors at play that make intermittent fasting beneficial for many people who have difficulty maintaining their weight or other health concerns.
Other health benefits of intermittent fasting
The benefits of intermittent fasting go beyond weight control. In addition to the health benefits listed above like improved metabolism, reduced inflammation, and lower blood sugar, there are other ways that intermittent fasting contributes to positive health outcomes.
There are studies that show intermittent fasting can slow the aging process. One showed that rats who were made to fast on a consistent basis lived anywhere from 36%-83% longer.
And others show the benefits of intermittent fasting for heart health. Fasting can help lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” that contributes to heart disease in high levels.
Intermittent fasting can be a helpful method to lose weight and address other health concerns. It has more evidence in its favor than other diets out there. Plus it can be especially helpful when combined with other proven healthful diets like the Mediterranean diet.
But to see health benefits, it is important to do intermittent fasting safely. Depending on your health history, you may need extra support and monitoring to ensure you don’t endanger your health by cutting your calories on certain days of the week.
To get support and even try a diet designed for fasting, we’re here to help you achieve your weight loss goals in a sustainable and healthy way. Reach out to your closest Valley Weight Loss Center to start your weight loss journey.
By Jodi Jaffe
June 16, 2021