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Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

If you really want to lose fat, intermittent fasting is the perfect way to go. Research shows that intermittent fasting has huge benefits. It can ward off chronic disease, improve memory and brain function, and boost your energy levels. What’s more, intermittent fasting is a great protocol for losing weight.

Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting can fast-track your weight loss goals by busting stubborn fat, reducing calories, and rewiring your metabolism for better performance.

Learn more about intermittent fasting and how to do it with this beginners guide now!

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is when you go without food for a certain amount of time. That kind of seems scary to a lot people, but it can actually be a lot easier than many other types of meal plans or diets.

You’ll be eating less food, which takes away a lot of the stress around having to meal prep. After all, life is all about balance!

Weight loss is the most common reason for people to try intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories. By eating fewer meals, intermittent fasting can lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake.

A 2014 review study found that this eating pattern can cause 3–8% weight loss over 3–24 weeks, which is a significant amount, compared to most weight loss studies.

According to the same study, people also lost 4–7% of their waist circumference, indicating a significant loss of harmful, stubborn belly fat or visceral fat that is packed deep around your abdominal organs.

During a period of six months, people on an intermittent fasting diet were able to shed four to seven percent of their visceral fat.

Another study showed that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than the more standard method of continuous calorie restriction.

Intermittent Fasting Limits Your Overall Calorie Intake

Keep in mind that the main reason for its success with intermittent fasting is that it helps you eat fewer calories overall. If you binge during your eating periods, you may not lose any weight at all. Although calorie counting is generally not required when doing intermittent fasting, the weight loss is mostly mediated by an overall reduction in calorie intake.

You don’t want to gorge on a burger, fries, and shake right after fasting. In order to continue the benefits of the fast you want to choose foods that will not spike your insulin.  You should eat foods that are high in fiber and protein, like leafy green vegetables, eggs, and chicken.

In a 2015 review pooling 40 different studies, participants shed on average 10 pounds in a 10-week period. Another study found that obese adults following an “alternate day” intermittent fasting schedule (eating 25 percent of their daily calories on one day, and eating normally the following day) lost up to 13 pounds over 8 weeks.

When you’re in the fasted state your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.

Because you don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after your last meal, it’s rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

When examining the rate of weight loss, people lost about 0.55 pounds per week with intermittent fasting, but 1.65 pounds per week with alternate-day fasting .

These results are very impressive, and they do show that intermittent fasting can be a useful weight loss aid.

Intermittent fasting is a convenient way to restrict calories without consciously trying to eat less. Many studies show that it can help you lose weight and belly fat.

Common Methods of Intermittent Fasting

The 16/8 Method (or Leangains)

Many people find the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to stick to. It’s also the most popular. It involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, like 12-8 like I do. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.  Basically it’s just skipping one meal!

Some people only eat in a 6-hour window, or even a 4-hour window. This is “feasting” and “fasting” parts of your days and the most common form of intermittent fasting.

It fits pretty seamlessly into most lifestyles, seeing as how you can choose to skip either breakfast or dinner, depending on your personal preferences.  Also, you’re sleeping during a good chunk of the fasting window, which makes it easier.

This schedule is good for just about anyone, but especially if you’ve already experimented with shorter fasting windows, you might want to give this one a try.  It tends to hit the sweet spot for most people as far as being manageable while still providing noticeable benefits.

You can adjust this window to make it work for your life.

The 5:2 Diet

With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.

One common way of planning the week is to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, with two or three small meals, then eat normally for the rest of the week.

You can choose whichever two days of the week you prefer, as long as there is at least one non-fasting day in between them.

For example, you can fast on Monday and Thursday but eat clean meals on the other days. Food on these five days will look just like the rest of the fasting plans—healthy fats, clean meat sources, vegetables, and some fruit.

Keep in mind that this plan is not for beginners, and you should always talk to your doctor before starting any fasting regimen, especially if you are on medication or have a medical condition.

By reducing your calorie intake, all of these methods should cause weight loss as long as you don’t compensate by eating much more during the eating periods.

24 Hour Fasting

This schedule is good for just about anyone, but especially if you’ve already experimented with shorter fasting windows, you might want to give this one a try.  It tends to hit the sweet spot for most people as far as being manageable while still providing noticeable benefits.

You can adjust this window to make it work for your life.

This way of doing intermittent fasting involves fasting from dinner to dinner (or lunch to lunch). If you eat dinner on day 1, you would skip the next day’s breakfast and lunch and eat dinner again on day 2. This means that you are still eating daily, but only once during that day. This would generally be done two to three times per week. If you’re just starting out, you may even do just one day a week.

Fasting completely for 1 or 2 days a week, known as the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, involves eating no food for 24 hours at a time. Many people fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch.

Skipping two meals one day, where you are taking 24 hours off from eating. For example, eating on a normal schedule (finishing dinner at 8PM) and then not eating again until 8PM the following day.

People on this diet plan can have water, tea, and other calorie-free drinks during the fasting period.

A 24-hour fast can be challenging, and it might cause irritability, fatigue, and/or headaches. Many people find that these effects become less extreme over time.  Your body just needs time to adjust to this new pattern of eating.

Some people may benefit from trying a 12-hour or 16-hour fast before transitioning to the 24-hour fast.

You would eat your normal 3 meals per day, and then occasionally pick a day to skip breakfast and lunch the next day.

If you can only do an 18 hour fast, or a 20 hour fast, or a 22 hour fast – that’s okay! Adjust with different time frames and see how your body responds.

Intermittent Fasting Helps Retain Muscle While Losing Fat

One of the downsides of dieting is that the body tends to burn muscle as well as fat. Interestingly, there are some studies showing that intermittent fasting may be beneficial for holding on to muscle while losing body fat.

In one review study, intermittent calorie restriction caused a similar amount of weight loss as continuous calorie restriction, but with a much smaller reduction in muscle mass. In the calorie restriction studies, 25% of the weight lost was muscle mass, compared to only 10% in the intermittent calorie restriction studies.

One study had participants eat the same amount of calories as before, except in just one huge meal in the evening. They lost body fat and increased their muscle mass, along with a host of other beneficial changes in health markers.

On a deeper level, the main effect is on your body’s insulin production. When you eat, insulin goes up; when you fast, insulin falls. This allows your body to begin to use some of its stored food energy, including glycogen and body fat. And when insulin falls, other hormones increase, including noradrenaline and human growth hormone, which is responsible for the increased energy, well-being, and mental clarity seen with fasting.

Intermittent Fasting Makes Healthy Eating Easier

One of the main benefits of intermittent fasting is the simplicity of it and that it makes healthy eating simpler. I personally do the 16/8 method. 2-3 large healthy meals per day are much easier to manage than 6 normal-sized meals and snacks.

Health and simplicity go hand and hand. The healthiest foods are often the simplest, like a banana or a piece of lean chicken breast. These basic foods are some of the healthiest you can eat, and being healthy should be simple.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Boost Weight Loss?

Kickstarts ketosis: Usually, reaching full ketosis takes careful planning and extreme carb limiting, but intermittent fasting provides a shortcut to this fat-burning state. Once your body drains glucose — its primary source of energy — it is forced to burn through its fat reserves for energy in a process called ketosis. Ketosis improves your blood chemistry, reduces inflammation, and helps you drop weight fast. To really burn through extra fat, combine your intermittent fasting with a keto diet. keto is more effective with intermittent fasting.

Lowers insulin levels: Intermittent fasting acts on insulin in two ways. First, it boosts your adiponectin levels, which helps restore insulin sensitivity to prevent weight gain and diabetes. Second, fasting decreases your fasting insulin levels. Lowered insulin is the cue your body needs to make the switch to burning stored fat instead of glucose.

Improves cholesterol: Intermittent fasting diets impact cholesterol by decreasing your levels of LDL and VLDL cholesterols. While improving your cholesterol won’t directly lead to weight loss, overweight and obese people are more likely to have dangerously high LDL and VLDL cholesterol, and the cardiovascular risk that comes with it.

Reduces inflammation: Lowering inflammation is key to losing weight, boosting longevity, and reducing your risk of major illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. That’s why it’s at the core of the Bulletproof Diet. Intermittent fasting decreases oxidative stress and inflammation across the board, including inflammatory markers such as adiponectin, leptin, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

Boosts metabolism: Intermittent fasting also boosts protein, fat, and glucose metabolism in animal studies. Boosting your resting metabolism helps your body burn more calories throughout the day, even while you rest. Fasting also increases your levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline, hormones that help your body free up more stored energy (that’s your body fat) during a fast.

Intermittent fasting also succeeds where many weight-loss regimes fail: by targeting and reducing visceral fat. Visceral fat is the stubborn, internal fat packed deep around your abdominal organs. During a period of six months, people on an intermittent fasting diet were able to shed four to seven percent of their visceral fat.

Increase Weight Loss With These Additional Intermittent Fasting Hacks

Drink Coffee: Skipping breakfast isn’t easy for everyone. If an 18-hour fast sounds daunting, never fear: there’s a hack for that. This simple hack keeps you in a fasted state.

Eat low-carb: Restricting carbohydrates will decrease your appetite (goodbye cravings), and make it easier for your body to shift into fat-burning ketosis.

Break your fast with the right fats, high-quality meats, and vegetables: Towards the end of your fast, those sweets and snacks start looking mighty tempting. Prepare healthy options ahead of time to avoid binging on carbs or junk food.

If you’re ready to kickoff your weight loss goals, get started with this intermittent fasting guide for beginners.

How to Succeed With Intermittent Fasting

There are several things you need to keep in mind if you want to lose weight with intermittent fasting:

  • Food quality: The foods you eat are still important. Try to eat mostly whole, single ingredient foods.
  • Calories: Calories still count. Try to eat “normally” during the non-fasting periods, not so much that you compensate for the calories you missed by fasting.
  • Consistency: Same as with any other weight loss method, you need to stick with it for an extended period of time if you want it to work.
  • Patience: It can take your body some time to adapt to an intermittent fasting protocol. Try to be consistent with your meal schedule and it will get easier.
    Most of the popular intermittent fasting protocols also recommend strength training. This is very important if you want to burn mostly body fat while holding on to muscle.

You can find much more information about intermittent fasting here: The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting.

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