Counting Calories To Lose Weight: Should You Try It
It may seem odd for a blog about fasting to bring up counting calories. Well, it turns out everyone is unique and some will achieve the weight loss success they have been aiming for through counting calories. Its just a fact. In this post, I will talk about the benefits of calorie restriction, then we will look at whether you should consider counting calories to lose weight with or without intermittent fasting. We will also talk about the million-dollar question: will counting calories to lose weight harm your metabolism?
Ways To Do Intermittent Fasting
There are various methods to follow an intermittent fasting schedule:
Is It Good Or Bad To Exercise While Intermittent Fasting
According to Harvard Health, one theory on the pro-exercise side is that exercising in a fasted state may make you burn fat. Lowden explains that the body needs sugar or some sort of energy to perform well while exercising. Normally, the energy comes from sugar molecules, which are stored as glycogen in the liver. If you start exercising, youre more likely to deplete those stores, and then your body has no choice but to go into a more anaerobic breakdown to give you the energy you need, she says. Instead of burning through sugars that aren’t available, your body is forced to burn through another energy source: fat.
But you may not have enough energy to exercise as intensely as you normally would. Peak performance or even feeling good while exercising is much easier if you eat, Lowden says.
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So What Should You Focus On Instead
The secret to long-term weight loss is to maintain your basal metabolism. What doesnt put you into starvation mode? Actual starvation! Or at least the controlled version, intermittent fasting.
Fasting triggers numerous hormonal adaptations that do NOT happen with simple caloric reduction. Insulin drops precipitously, helping prevent insulin resistance. Noradrenalin rises, keeping metabolism high. Growth hormone rises, maintaining lean mass.
Over four days of continuous fasting, basal metabolism does not drop. Instead, it increased by 12%. Neither did exercise capacity, as measured by the VO2, decrease, but is instead maintained. In another study, twenty-two days of alternate daily fasting also does not result in any decrease in RMR.
Why does this happen? Imagine we are cavemen. Its winter and food is scarce. If our bodies go into starvation mode, then we would become lethargic, with no energy to go out and find food. Each day the situation gets worse and eventually we die. Nice. The human species would have become extinct long ago if our bodies slow down each time we didnt eat for a few hours.
No, instead, during fasting, the body opens up its ample supply of stored food body fat! Yeah! Basal metabolism stays high, and instead we change fuel sources from food, to stored food . Now we have enough energy to go out and hunt some woolly mammoth.
Intermittent Fasting Vs Counting Calories
When it comes to comparing fasting to counting calories, many people have strong opinions. You may hear things like: dont bother counting calories and counting calories will slow down your metabolism. In fact, intermittent fasting, as I mentioned already, is a form of calorie restriction. That being said, most people lose weight with intermittent fasting without counting calories because it regulates their appetite. Thats why intermittent fasting works so well! For many, its more sustainable than calorie restriction because a sustained calorie deficit requires too much willpower.
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Intermittent Fasting May Not Offer Dramatic Benefits Heres Why
What defines success depends on who you ask.
Intermittent fasting encompasses a few approaches to food: eating during only certain hours of the day, refraining completely on certain days, or drastically reducing calories on a few days of the week. And yet, scientists and practitioners alike insist its not a diet. Its an eating pattern.
The appeal of intermittent fasting to a general audience is arguably just that: its non-dietness. If you limit your eating to certain hours of the day, the reasoning goes, theres no need to restrict calories.
It makes sense then that intermittent fasting is often pitted against calorie restriction specifically reducing calories consumed per day in scientific studies. The question is: Does it actually help people achieve their health goals, would they be better off trying calorie restriction, or should they choose something else entirely?
What Happens To Your Body During If
Fasting for a period of at least 12 hours alters the way your metabolic system functions. Your metabolic system is the process through which your body converts food into energy. Normally, your body obtains its energy from glucose, which is found in foods and beverages you consume. When you eat three meals a day, your body maintains a constant glucose level.
When you fast for more than 12 hours, your glucose levels begin to drop because you aren’t eating as frequently. When your body lacks glucose, it burns fat for fuel. Fatty acids enter into your bloodstream and produce ketones, which are used as an energy source by your body. This is called a metabolic switch, in which your body converts glucose to ketones.
In order to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting, you need to fast for at least 12 consecutive hours because that is how long it takes for your body to go from using glucose to using fat for energy.
Since it may take some time for your body to adjust to a new eating regimen, results may not be immediate but take 2-4 weeks to be noticeable.
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Do Calories Matter When Fasting Summary
- Fasting studies have shown that reducing the hours we consume food causes weight loss without conscious food intake restrictions.
- Consistent adherence to a fasting routine may reduce the need to count calories.
- You can lose your ability to recognize true hunger due to a poor diet, resulting in an increased need to track your calorie intake.
- Pairing intermittent fasting with a low carb/high-fat diet will give you a weight-loss edge and could reduce your need to track calories.
Benefits Of Calorie Restriction
Calorie restriction has been studied mostly on animals, but some human studies also exist.
There have been many animal studies on calorie restriction. More so than on intermittent fasting. For most animals, calorie restriction increases lifespan and reduces cancer risks, heart disease, and diabetes. Typically the calorie restriction accounts for between 10 and 40 % the control groups calorie intake. Some studies show a lifespan increase by as much as 40 percent!
Dr. Valter Longo often tells the story of a man who spent two years on a calorie restriction diet . The man had great blood markers after two years, but was miserable! That is indeed the problem with strict calorie restriction!
Another study done on 200 subjects was less severe. The participants reduced their calorie intake by 12 percent. The results were reduced risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
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Science Investigates: Fasting Vs Calorie Restriction
People are always on the lookout for quick and easy ways to lose weight, which is why there are approximately 5 billion new diet books written every year thats our unscientific, but probably not inaccurate, estimate. Speaking of unscientific, the problem with the plans in these books is their so-called new approaches to weight loss havent been tested, well, scientifically. And when they get scientists to pay attention, the plans often fail to produce the stellar results they claim.
One weight-loss method thats gotten a lot of attention lately is fasting, where people go without eating for several hours or even a full day. Search the internet and Reddit boards, and youll find passionate devotees talking about the advantages of fasting for weight loss, muscle gain and other benefits, like improved mental clarity. And while there is research to back up some of these claims, much of it is preliminary or was conducted on animals.
Lately, researchers have been looking into fasting more deeply and are starting to fill this knowledge void. A study published this May in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicinesought to find out whether fasting was any better or worse at helping people lose weight than a more traditional diet. Heres what they discovered:
WHAT DID THE STUDY EXAMINE?
The study looked at the effectiveness of two diets:
WHO TOOK PART IN THE STUDY?
READ MORE > DEBUNKING THE MYTH OF FASTED CARDIO
HOW LONG DID THE STUDY LAST?
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is the practice of fasting for a set amount of hours each day, followed by a window of time in which you are permitted to eat.
During the fasting period, you need to avoid solid foods and limit your diet to calorie-free beverages like water, coffee, and unsweetened teas. During the eating window, you can consume solid foods but are encouraged to follow a balanced diet and avoid junk foods.
Some people find it helpful to follow the Mediterranean diet while doing intermittent fasting to ensure that they are getting enough nutrients during their eating window. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, seafood, and healthy fats.
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Do Calories Matter When Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting works for weight loss because you feed your body during the hours that it can best use the calories you consume for energy. Does it matter how much you eat or how many calories you consume when your eating window opens up? Ill address those questions in this post.
Why Fasting Is More Effective Than Calorie Counting
Perhaps one of the most common questions we get is what the difference is between calorie restriction and fasting. Many calorie enthusiasts say that fasting works, but only because it restricts calories. In essence, they are saying that only the average matters, not the frequency. But, of course, the truth is more complex. So, lets deal with this thorny problem.
The weather in Death Valley, California should be perfect with a yearly average temperature of 25 Celsius . Yet, most residents would hardly call the temperature idyllic. Summers are scorching hot, and winters are uncomfortably cold.
You can easily drown crossing a river that, on average, is only 2 feet deep. If most of the river is 1 foot deep and one section is 10 feet deep, then you will not safely cross. Jumping off a 1-foot wall 1000 times is far different than jumping off a 1000-foot wall once.
In a weeks weather, there is a huge difference between having 7 grey, drizzling days with 1 inch of rain each and having 6 sunny, gorgeous days with 1 day of heavy thundershowers.
Its obvious in all these examples that overall averages only tell one part of the tale, and often, understanding frequency is paramount. So why would we assume that reducing 300 calories per day over 1 week is the same as reducing 2100 calories over a single day? The difference between the two is the knife-edge between success and failure.
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Calorie Restriction Vs Intermittent Fasting: The Latest Weight Loss Science Weighs In
Back in 1991, a group of 8 people embarked on an experiment of living in a self-contained artificial ecological environment near Tucson, Arizona. Think high-tech commune, but instead of hippies, the group consisted of a physician, as well as other doctors and researchers. They embarked on what was to be a two-year self-sustaining attempt at growing their own food. The domed facility they lived in was called Biosphere 2. The goal of the researchers was to assess the feasibility for future space colonists to grow their own food.
While the food-growing effort wasnt as challenging as that of Matt Damons in the hit film, The Martian,” in which Damons character survives by fertilizing the Martian soil with his own poop, nonetheless, the 8 researchers quickly realized that they wouldnt be able to grow enough food in the domed environment to sustain them.
In just so happened that one of the researchers was a devotee of calorie-restricted diets and author of a book about the subject. What better opportunity to conduct on experiment on calorie restricted diets. The 8 people living in Biosphere 2 reduced their calorie intake 30%.
Although calorie restriction has been studied for over 100 years, the Biosphere group is believed to be one of the first experiments on CR on humans.
Well, hold onnot so fast.
The Dark Side of Calorie Restriction
I still recommend breaking your 16-hour fast with Green Drink and then waiting a half hour or s
Intermittent Fasting No Better Than Calorie Counting Study Finds
By CNN| 6 months ago
In a blow to believers in time-restricted eating a form of intermittent fasting where people only eat during a restricted window during the day researchers in China have found the method has no significant benefits compared with simple calorie restriction in battling obesity.
“Our data suggest that caloric intake restriction explained most of the beneficial effects of a time-restricted eating regimen,” according to researchers at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.
The study, , split 139 overweight to significantly obese adults in Guangzhou into two study groups that were followed for a year.
One group was told to limit their daily food intake to 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day for men, and 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day for women. Men and women in the other group were told to eat the same amount of calories, but to eat only between the hours of 8am and 4pm.
To track compliance, study participants were asked to keep food diaries and photograph all food they ate.
At the end of the year, both groups lost weight about 6.4 to 8.2 kilograms but eating on a time-restricted schedule didn’t produce any significant difference in weight loss between the two groups.
Nor was there any real difference in other markers of weight loss, such as BMI , waist circumference, body fat or metabolic risk factors such as insulin resistance and blood pressure.
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Should You Count Calories On Intermittent Fasting And Do You Get Used To Intermittent Fasting
A friend asked me the other day do you count count calories on intermittent fasting, hence this article.
A lot of the intermittent fasting plans do not come with counting calories as part of the deal. Thats part of the attraction to intermittent fasting as a weight management tool.
Answer to the question: should I count calories when doing intermittent fasting? Answer: No, you dont have to.
Average Calories Versus Eating Frequency
The weather in Death Valley, California should be perfect with a yearly average temperature is 25 Celsius. Yet, most residents would hardly call the temperature idyllic. Summers are scorching hot, and winters are uncomfortably cold.
You can easily drown crossing a river that, on average, is only two feet deep. If most of the river is one foot deep and one section is ten feet deep, then you will not safely cross. Jumping off a one-foot wall 1000 times is far different than jumping off a 1000-foot wall once.
In a weeks weather, there is a huge difference between having seven grey, drizzling days with one inch of rain each and having six sunny, glorious days with one day of heavy thunderstorms and showers.
Its obvious in all these examples that overall averages only tell one part of the tale, and often, understanding frequency is paramount. So why would we assume that reducing 300 calories per day over one week is the same as reducing 2100 calories over a single day? The difference between the two is the knife-edge between success and failure.
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Whats The Best Way To Manage Hunger While Fasting
You will likely feel hungry as your body adjusts to IF, but Gottfried says it will adjust. From my own experience and feedback from my patients, it gets easier, she says. According to Harvard, research has found that IF doesnt increase overall appetite. Gottfried says the 16:8 diet seems to be the easiest for most people to integrate into their lives without feeling too hungry.
Intermittent Fasting Is A Good Long
As mentioned, with intermittent fasting, you donât have to count calories. This means that you may be happier and less stressed on this diet and may find this diet easier to adhere to long-term. The reason why many diets fail is because people are so miserable while theyâre on them that they can only stick to them for a short while. This may not be the case for everyone, but many people say that intermittent fasting is simply easier, and this allows them to have greater success on this diet.
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