Intermittent Fasting: How It Can Help You Lose Weight And Even Save Money
My experience with fasting revealed some surprising benefits, including fewer potentially risky trips to the grocery store.
Is it time to eat yet?
By now you’ve probably heard of intermittent fasting, arguably the hottest health trend of the last couple years. It’s been heralded as not only a foolproof weight-loss method, but also a potential cure for things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, poor sleep, insulin resistance, even cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. A 2019 study in The New England Journal of Medicine links fasting to “increased stress resistance, increased longevity and a decreased incidence of diseases, including cancer and obesity.”
Want to learn more? And maybe try it yourself? Here’s everything you need to know about intermittent fasting , including some of my own experiences with it.
Get the CNET Health and Wellness newsletter
Editors’ note: You should always consult with a doctor before making changes to your diet or eating behaviors.
Tracking Your Diet And Exercise
If someone wants to lose weight, they should be aware of everything that they eat and drink each day. The most effective way to do this is to log every item that they consume, in either a journal or an online food tracker.
Researchers estimated in 2017 that there would be 3.7 billion health app downloads by the end of the year. Of these, apps for diet, physical activity, and weight loss were among the most popular. This is not without reason, as tracking physical activity and weight loss progress on-the-go can be an effective way of
found a positive correlation between weight loss and the frequency of monitoring food intake and exercise. Even a device as simple as a pedometer can be a useful weight-loss tool.
Fast For 12 Hours A Day
The rules for this diet are simple. A person needs to decide on and adhere to a 12-hour fasting window every day.
According to some researchers, fasting for 1016 hours can cause the body to turn its fat stores into energy, which releases ketones into the bloodstream. This should encourage weight loss.
This type of intermittent fasting plan may be a good option for beginners. This is because the fasting window is relatively small, much of the fasting occurs during sleep, and the person can consume the same number of calories each day.
The easiest way to do the 12-hour fast is to include the period of sleep in the fasting window.
For example, a person could choose to fast between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. They would need to finish their dinner before 7 p.m. and wait until 7 a.m. to eat breakfast but would be asleep for much of the time in between.
Read Also: Does Fasting Help With Ketosis
So If Im *not* Losing Weight With If Whats The Problem
There could be a few reasons. Here are 12 intermittent fasting mistakes that you might be making, and how to fix them.
1. Youre eating too much during your eating window.
As mentioned, in general, Weight loss essentially boils down to calories in versus calories out, reminds Martin. If you end up consuming the same number of calories during your eating windows as before you started intermittent fasting, then you wont lose weight.
Join WH Stronger today and get unlimited access to digital content, exclusive workouts, and more!
In other words, if you just pack all of the calories you’d normally eat into your eating window, you’re not really changing your diet at all.
How to fix it: Try a calorie-counting app. “Although I dont typically recommend calorie counting, it may help to track your caloric intake for a few days using a calorie-tracking app,” says Martin. “These apps will usually tell you the approximate daily calorie amount you need to be at in order to lose weight. Although these estimations are usually off, they can be used as a good starting point.” The app can also reveal meals or specific foods that have more calories than you’d expect, and you can adjust your diet accordingly.
2. You are not consuming enough calories on non-fasting days.
When you dont consume an adequate amount of calories on non-fasting days, your body may conserve the energy you consume, rather than burning it, says Smith.
3. Youre eating less-nutritious foods.
They Are One Of The Healthiest Breakfast Options
Americans tend to start the day with refined carbohydrates like cereal, pancakes, or doughnuts, which can increase your risk of obesity and even type 2 diabetes. Swapping a carb-heavy breakfast for one with high-protein foods like eggs may help you lose weight.
A small 2008 study of overweight and obese people ages 25 to 60 found eggs for breakfast led to more weight loss than a bagel for breakfast. Participants on a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet were divided into two groups, one of which ate eggs for breakfast and the other a bagel. Both breakfasts contained the same number of calories. After eight weeks, the egg group had a 61% greater reduction in BMI, a 65% greater loss in weight, and a 34% greater reduction in weight loss than the bagel group.
“I definitely recommend eggs as part of a healthy breakfast,” Rizzo says. “To balance the breakfast, also include some fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy.”
Additionally, eating a healthy breakfast can reduce overall caloric intake by preventing cravings later in the day, Rizzo says. A 2016 review found eating a high-protein breakfast might be linked to lower weight, body fat, and a lower BMI.
You May Like: How Do I Do Intermittent Fasting
Health Benefits Of Fasting
The big benefit of picking intermittent fasting for your nutrition plan is its so sustainable. With other diets youre either constantly counting calories, can only eat certain foods, or always cutting macronutrients. For example, the keto diet is quite effective for weight loss but the fact that you have to cut out your carbs forever isnt a sustainable diet for the majority of people . I mean imagine never being able to eat pizza, pasta, cookies, cereal, beer, wine, etc. ever again.
With intermittent fasting the big thing you have to be mindful of is to not eat during your fast. This is so simple anybody can follow it long term. But that doesnt always mean its easy. There are times when youre going to get hungry and tempted to eat. And then there are other times when social situations put you in a sticky position that practically force you to eat.
But lets say you go out with friends for dinner and end up eating and drinking until midnight. The good part with intermittent fasting is you just restart your fasting clock and wait a little longer to eat the next day. Its not like every other diet where you mess up by eating the wrong kind of food and then all your results go out the window.
So with intermittent fasting, you can keep your motivation going even if you have a little slip-up. If you ever have trouble with the hunger pangs during your fast then you could drink some of my approved fasting drinks:
- zero cal sparkling water
1 day: 0.5 2 pounds
What Is The 1: 8 Diet
The 16:8 diet is a type of intermittent fasting where you break each day into two parts a 16 hour stretch and an 8 hour period. For 16 hours every day, you consume nothing but water, coffee, tea and other unsweetened drinks. Then for the other eight hours of the day, you can eat all your meals and snacks.
The 16 hour stretch sounds like a long time, but if youre getting enough sleep, you should be asleep for about half of that time.
Sports Scientist Harry Aitken tells GoodtoKnow, Intermittent fasting is a dietary technique in which all food is consumed within a relatively small window of time. Fasting is going for a significant period of time without eating, and intermittent fasting simply brings in a small window of time where you are able to eat.
Intermittent fasting has been popularised and studies have gone on to confirm that it leads to weight loss and fat loss.
The 16:8 diet stems from the book 8 Hour Diet by author David Zinczenko and editor-in-chief of Mens Health Peter Moore, who suggested that a longer fasting time between eating gives the body the time it needs to process the food and burn away extra fat.
What Is Water Fasting
Water fasting involves drinking 1-2 liters of water per day for five days. Doing this will give your body a chance to rejuvenate itself and flush out toxins that have been building up in the body for a long time. The most important aspect of water fasting is that your brain will be more alert and you will become super focused on what you do. You may feel tired and need to sleep more. But overall, it will show good results, provided you do it properly, with the help of your physician or dietitian. Also, it is important to understand that not all bodies have the same stress coping ability. Therefore, it is up to you whether you want to undertake water fast when you are on a sabbatical or while you are working or going to school.
A pre-fast and post-fast phase is necessary. Slowly reduce food intake before the actual water fast and then again gradually re-introduce food after the water fast is completed. Sudden water fasting or breaking the fast suddenly will harm your body and can even kill you.
Fasting For Healthy Weight Loss The Wrap Up
Intermittent fasting can play a role in your healthy weight loss lifestyle.
But remember, fasting is not a magic bullet. The rest of your diet and lifestyle still matter.
Also, remember our six tips for healthy weight loss with intermittent fasting:
If you follow these tips, theres a good chance that intermittent fasting can help you lose weight in a healthy way.
How Much Weight Can You Lose On 1: 8 Diet
To lose weight on the 16:8 diet, its important to match the fasting with healthy eating and exercise. If done so correctly, theres a typical weight loss of around seven to 11 pounds over a ten week period. This is according to a review of 40 different studies published in Molecular and Cellular Endocrincology who found that on average, someone weighing just over 90kg would lose 5% of their total body weight in the ten week period.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Healthy Eating revealed that the 16:8 diet plan can help people lose weight, without having to count calories as the 8-hour fast produces the same kind of calorific restriction and weight loss.
However, whether theres a distinct weight loss advantage achieved on the 16:8 diet compared to other diets remains to be seen. Some studies have demonstrated that theres almost no difference between people who do intermittent fasting compared those who count calories and cut back on unhealthy food.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Weight
1. It alters hormonal balance for effective fat loss
When we eat our foods, our body converts excess energy and stores it up as fat in our body. When we dont eat anything, the body has its way of making the stored fat more accessible to be used as an alternative source of energy. This could include making some changes in the activity of the nervous system and causing a change in your hormones.
When you fast:
Insulin level decreases dramatically and increases when we eat. Reduced levels of insulin in the body aids effective fat burning. Also, during fast, the level of the bodys growth hormone increase to as much as 5 folds which thus promotes fat loss and muscle building.
Another major hormonal changes experienced during fasting is the increased amount of Norepinephrine during the fast. When we fast, more of this hormone is sent by the nervous system to the fat cells to break them down into free fatty acids which are forms that can be more easily burn as energy. Hence, aiding in quick and natural weight loss.
2. It helps you reduce calorie intake
Eating fewer calories than you burn is the roadmap to effective weight loss. Intermittent fasting will help reduce, and sometimes eliminate that hunger pangs and cravings and so help you consume fewer calories throughout the day.
3. It helps target belly fat
4. It makes healthy eating simpler
5. It helps prevent muscle loss when dieting
How To Get Started With Intermittent Fasting
There are two schools of thought with regard to how to structure your fasts. The first is fairly different from what’s described above it’s commonly known as 5:2, meaning you eat normally for five days of the week and fast for two. That may work for some, but two days of virtual starvation doesn’t sound very appealing.
I prefer the daily method: Fast for at least 16 hours per day. The aforementioned New England Journal of Medicine study was based on an 18:6 structure: 18-hour fast, six-hour window.
“16:8 is a great place to start,” Stephens says, “but it may not be a weight-loss window for many people. That’s because fat-burning ramps up between hours 18 and 24 of the fast. 19:5 was a great weight-loss sweet spot for me, and I lost at about a pound per week when doing it. With 19:5, you fast for 19 hours a day and have an eating window of five hours. Your sweet spot may be different from mine, of course. Maybe it will be 18:6 or 20:4.” Experimentation is key, she adds.
Before you embark on this journey, I recommend reading CNET writer Caroline Roberts’ guide to doing intermittent fasting safely.
If your eating window doesn’t include breakfast, you can still drink coffee as long as it’s black and unsweetened.
Intermittent Fasting: Is It Right For You
U-M dietitian Sue Ryskamp weighs in on intermittent fasting benefits, who it works best for and how to get started
Weight loss can be difficult, but could intermittent fasting help? This eating pattern, which features cycles of fasting and eating, is making headlines as research confirms its not only what you eat, but when you eat, that matters in the struggle to lose weight.
During intermittent fasting, individuals use specific periods of eating typically within an eight-to-10 hour window to lose weight, says Michigan Medicine dietitian Sue Ryskamp, who sees patients at U-Ms Frankel Cardiovascular Center.
The premise behind intermittent fasting is relatively simple, she says: When our insulin levels go down far enough and for long enough, as they do during a fasting period, were able burn off fat.
Insulin levels drop when a person is not consuming food. During a period of fasting, decreasing insulin levels cause cells to release stored glucose as energy. Repeating this process regularly, as with intermittent fasting, leads to weight loss. In addition, this type of fasting often results in the consumption of fewer calories overall, which contributes to weight loss, Ryskamp says.
A Harvard research study also reveals how intermittent fasting may slow the aging process through weight loss, lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol.
Don’t Miss: How To Lower Fasting Glucose
It Helps Maximize Digestion Hormone Secretion
When you fast, you can sync your eating schedule with your body’s circadian rhythm: the natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. By doing this, you can optimize your body’s metabolism, helping it run more efficiently:
“When you synchronize intermittent fasting with your body’s natural circadian rhythm, you eat during the day to take advantage of the way the body has evolved to maximize hormone secretion for digestion. By doing this, your body can more efficiently use food during the daytime to fuel activities,” say The Nutrition Twins.
On top of weight loss, there’s another health advantage to this method: it can help reduce your risk of diabetes. Part of the human circadian rhythm is to decrease insulin sensitivity throughout the day. Insulin is a hormone responsible for pulling glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells. This means that when you eat a carb-rich meal at night, your body is exposed to more insulin, which can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes over time. By fasting during this time, you can avoid this problem.
What Is The Typical Fasting Weight Loss
Stories abound on quick, radical fasting weight loss. Losing twenty pounds in a week is a common one. As is 4 pounds a day. But these numbers don’t reflect the weight gain that occurs naturally when one resumes eating, nor are they typical for everyone.
Weight loss occurs most drastically in the early days of a fast , then declines as the fast progresses. During a water fast, women generally lose about 14 ounces per day and men, on average, lose 17 1/2 ounces per day. This is an average, some days you may lose nothing.
With a fasting plan including around 200 calories per day, such asfruit or juice or broth, these figures lower by about 1 3/4 ounces per day. The Master Cleanse, which supplies anywhere from 650-1300 calories, would have lower numbers yet.
Of course, these figures vary from person to person, and typically it is those who have the most excess weight that lose the most. Thinner people often lose weight a bit more slowly, just as they often don’t maintain as high an energy level during fasting. Their bodies are working harder to conserve energy since they have less reserves to supply fuel for the body.
Those with lower metabolisms may also lose weight a little more slowly as their bodies are already adept at conserving energy.
In the end, results will always vary from person to person.
Read Also: How Much Can I Lose Intermittent Fasting