Fasting to Lose Weight: Why It Works
Feeling stuck in your weight loss journey? A fasting weight loss diet might be the key to losing that unwanted weight
There’s no doubt fasting is more popular than ever right now.
And if you’ve never tried it yourself, you might be wondering:
- Is fasting healthy?
- Does fasting to lose weight really work?
Despite its more recent surge in popularity, fasting isn’t just a recent health food trend. People have been fasting since ancient times. And the latest studies prove it’s actually an effective and healthful way to approach eating.
So what is fasting?
Fasting is commonly just thought of as going for many hours without eating anything.
But there’s more to it than just not eating all day. Fasting is about timing your meals and even abstaining from certain foods. And there are many different ways of fasting that can work for anyone.
One of the most common ways of fasting for health benefits and weight loss is intermittent fasting. Which is when you alternate fasting days or times with your typical eating habits.
It might look like this: on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you only eat 600 calories in a day while on all the other days of the week, you eat as you normally would.
Or it might be that you choose to skip breakfast every day of the week and only eat between noon and 8PM. This has you in a fasting state for about 16 hours every day.
You could even do two full 24-hour fasts during your week and eat normally on the other five days. This becomes alternate-day fasting when you consistently alternate full days of eating and fasting.
There are also clinically tested and effective fasting weight loss diets like the Prolon Diet. It’s a diet designed to help you get the most out of your fasting meals and reap the most health benefits from fasting.
However you choose fasting to lose weight works, and there are many other related health benefits.
Fasting Limits Calorie Intake
As you cut meals out of your week, you’re ultimately more likely to shrink the number of calories you consume.
When you do a full 24 hour fast, you cut out all those calories from your total consumption each week. This means you consume fewer overall calories than you otherwise would. And your body will start tapping into stored energy sources in fat cells.
Another way fasting limits calorie intake is that it often means cutting certain foods out of your diet. So you indulge less in all the processed foods like cake, chips, and ice cream (you know, the tasty but unhealthy foods we all get cravings for). The reason these foods can be a problem for weight loss is that they are super high calorie but low satiety. In other words, you can eat a lot of these foods before you start to feel full. And consume a deceptively large number of calories in the process.
Oftentimes when people fast, they remove those processed foods from their fasting diet and replace them with lower calorie satiating foods. When you do that, it’s a huge number of calories you give up each week!
The fact that fasting makes it much easier to reduce calorie intake is why it’s possible to get results like losing 9% of body weight after 24 hours of fasting each week for 12 weeks.
And fasting is actually more effective than just reducing calories alone, especially if you want to lose fat weight but maintain lean muscle mass.
Fasting Produces More Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Why is fasting more effective than just reducing calories for weight loss? It has to do with the way fasting influences two important hormones — human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin.
Despite the word growth in the name, this hormone is important for weight loss. Your body creates more of this hormone when you fast — and ultimately improves your metabolism and helps you lose weight.
Fasting also helps your body manage insulin levels.
Insulin typically surges after we eat to transport energy (in the form of sugar) into our cells for storage and use at a later time.
When you fast and resist the urge to snack, your body will produce insulin less often. The result is that your body will start using the stored energy and glucose in fat cells.
This has major health outcomes — especially for those who have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. In one study individuals with diabetes were able to decrease their insulin level through fasting.
The influence fasting has over HGH and insulin helps you boost your metabolism, improve your insulin sensitivity, and ultimately lose weight.
Fasting Keeps You On a Proper Eating Rhythm
Our metabolism is adapted to a rhythm of being awake in the day and sleeping at night.
While some people might be night-owls, one thing is true about human beings: we are not nocturnal creatures.
That means our body expects and is prepared for eating during the day.
It’s no surprise then that nighttime eating is associated with obesity and diabetes.
Fasting is a perfect way to ensure you eat based on the circadian rhythm of your body. Many time-restricted fasting plans are set up for you to eat all of your calories within 8 hours every day.
And it turns out that having your meals within 8 hours each day instead of 12+ leads to health improvements.
One study found that by spreading your meals out over 8 hours each day instead of 12 hours, you can improve your insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure. And believe it or not, those who fit their meals into 8 hours were less likely to feel extreme hunger pangs. Even during the fasting period!
Tips to Make Fasting Work for You
Those are just some of the many benefits of fasting. So it’s no surprise that many people who try fasting end up sticking with it.
But there are also a couple things you should keep in mind if you want to try fasting to lose weight.
First, it’s important that you don’t use fasting to replace a nutritious diet.
If you start a fasting weight loss diet and then use your only calorie intake for the day to eat 600 calories worth of cake, you won’t have the best outcomes. Sure, you might be in a calorie deficit, but you’ll also fall short of getting the nutrients you body needs.
Ultimately, you want to make sure you primarily eat healthful and nutritious foods that not only fill you up, but also give your body the nutrition it needs to be healthy and strong.
Fasting also won’t be a miracle cure for poor lifestyle habits. Make sure you still get plenty of water and sleep. And aim to get at least 30 minutes of just low to moderate exercise every day.
Get the fasting weight loss results you want
At Valley Medical Weight Loss, we help you create a fasting plan that fits for your lifestyle and goals. We’ll keep you accountable and give you the right meal plan that doesn’t leave you feeling constantly hungry as you lose weight.
And we offer the Prolon Diet — a tested fasting weight loss diet that gives you the benefits of fasting and improves your overall health. It’s one of our most popular diets because it’s an easy to follow 5-day program that gets results.
Connect with our experts to talk about how we can support you on your weight loss journey.
- PM;, Tinsley GM;La Bounty. “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Body Composition and Clinical Health Markers in Humans.” Nutrition Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26374764/.
- KA;, Varady. “Intermittent versus Daily Calorie Restriction: Which Diet Regimen Is More Effective for Weight Loss?” Obesity Reviews : an Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21410865/.
- Møller N;Jørgensen JO;Abildgård N;Orskov L;Schmitz O;Christiansen JS; “Effects of Growth Hormone on Glucose Metabolism.” Hormone Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1806481/.
- MH;, Rasmussen. “Obesity, Growth Hormone and Weight Loss.” Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19723558/.
- Arnason, Terra G, et al. “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health Markers in Those with Type 2 Diabetes: A Pilot Study.” World Journal of Diabetes, Baishideng Publishing Group Inc, 15 Apr. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5394735/.
- Sutton, Elizabeth F., et al. “Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes.” Cell Metabolism, Cell Press, 10 May 2018, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413118302535.
- Link, Rachael. “8 Health Benefits of Fasting, Backed by Science.” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/nutrition/fasting-benefits.
By Jodi Jaffe
August 26, 2020
Nutrition, Lifestyle, Weight Loss