Intermittent Fasting May Not Help You Lose Weight Faster Than A Standard Diet Year
Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular dieting methods out there. Search for it on instagram and you’ll find nearly five million posts under #intermittentfasting, and another 3 million under #fasting.
But a year-long study of 139 people in Guangzhou, China, suggests that intermittent fasting, where people limit the days – or times of day – that they can eat, may not be any more effective than simply reducing the amount of calories you take in.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, recruited volunteers aged 18-75 with a body mass index of between 28 and 45 and randomly sorted them into two groups.
For 12 months, each group was told to follow a calorie-restricted diet, limiting men to 1500-1800 calories a day, and women to 1200-1500 calories a day.
One group could eat whenever they wanted. The other observed a form of intermittent fasting known as time-restricted eating , and could only eat between the hours of 8 AM and 4 PM.
Both groups were supported during the year-long trial with diet coaching and nutritional shakes for the first six months.
Whats The Best Protocol For Weight Loss
When it comes to weight loss, there is no best protocol the best protocol is one you can stick with. You might want to keep your fasting window to a minimum. Or, you may prefer fasting for the majority of your day.
Common intermittent fasting protocols are:
- The 16:8 Method: Fast for 16 hours and eat all of your days food within eight hours, seven days a week.
- The 23:1 or One Meal a Day Diet: Fast for 23 hours and eat one meal a day in a one-hour window.
- The 5:2 or Fast Diet: Eat as you typically would for five days and limit daily calories to 500-600 for two days in order to fast.
- Eat, Stop, Eat: Similar to the Alternate Day Fast, but you choose to fast for an entire day once or twice per week and return to your routine eating habits the other days.
For an in-depth look at the various types of intermittent fasting protocols, check out this guide to learn more about which regimen might fit for you.
Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy
Before you shake your head in disbelief and think: No way is this a good idea, I too was skeptical since Ive always believed a healthy diet that is low in calories is the way to go. After editing a health and fitness magazine for over a dozen years and imparting knowledge of how to follow the fewer calories in, more calories out way of losing weight the safe and healthy way, when I listened to the science behind fasting, and then read the book, I was convinced that Dr. Fung is onto something.
In fact, fasting dates back to the beginning of humankind when no matter how hungry, humans had to be sharp, strong, and energized to find, forage or hunt for that next meal. Cycling through feast and famine was as natural as cycling through sleep. When Dr. Fung explains the science of how fasting works, he unwound decades of scientific knowledge I had held dear. In short, he is extremely convincing. The benefits of IF can include:
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When Should I Exercise
When Varady and her colleagues conducted a study that combined alternate day fasting and exercise, they allowed the participants to pick whether they wanted to exercise on a feasting or fasting day, and found there was no strong preference one way or the other. But the researchers were surprised the dieters actually reported feeling more energetic on fasting days.
That being said, exercise before you eat because people get hungry about half an hour after they finish working out and may find it too hard to stick to their plan if they cant eat anything at all afterwards, Varady noted.
If youre on the 16:8 plan, exercise before or during your eating window. If youre doing alternate day fasting and are exercising on your 500-calorie day, save food for after your exercise session.
Is It Good For Certain Conditions
Some research shows that this type of diet may curb symptoms of asthma. Also, some studies, but not all, show improvement in the bodyâs use of insulin.
If you have medical conditions, talk with your doctor before you try intermittent fasting.
This diet is not recommended for children, pregnant women, people with eating disorders, and some people with diabetes.
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What Can You Eat On A Ketogenic Diet
There are myriad options, but the key is to keep your carbs low and your fat intake high.
Heres a basic idea:
Include things like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, leafy greens, other non-starchy vegetables, berries, nuts, cheeses, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, and butter.
Thats not a complete list obviously, but that should give you quite a few options to consider.
Ive also created a really thorough list of simple and easy ketogenic food options, so if youre thinking about trying low-carb check that out as well!
By the way, youll probably need to increase your salt intake on keto as well, because once your insulin level drops youll be peeing out more salt than before.
How To Use Tre For Weight Loss
In phase 1, use TRE for at least 2 months. Then reassess.
If you only do it for a week or two, thats not long enough to really judge your progress. Your body needs some time to adapt to eating less frequently, so dont be in a huge rush.
If you have to ease into it slowly, thats probably smart. But keep going for at least a couple months after that.
Some people actually reach their weight loss goals just by doing TRE. So if its working, keep going.
Other people kind of plateau after a while, and need to change things up.
Either way, TRE is great for your health, and a solid way to start your weight loss journey.
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What Are The Different Intermittent Fasting Patterns
Intermittent fasting involves consuming all of your calories within a short period of time. There are many intermittent eating patterns, so its important to choose one thats right for your body, your activity level and your lifestyle. Here are two popular options:
The 16:8 DietThe 16:8 diet involves fasting for 16 hours each day and consuming all of your calories during an 8-hour window. Many people who follow this 16-hour fast eat 2 meals between noon and 8 pm, but you can adjust the 8-hour window to suit your lifestyle, exercise habits and work schedule. With this option, however, plan your eating so that the majority of the fast occurs during your normal sleeping hours. This will help you avoid feeling hungry during your waking hours.
The 5:2 DietAnother popular option is the 5:2 diet, which involves 5 days of normal eating and 2 days of eating around 500-600 calories per day. The 5:2 diet gives you the flexibility to choose the 2 fasting days that work best for you, as long as theyre separated by at least one normal eating day.
Youre Working Out A Ton
“Oftentimes people will start a new eating regimen, like a fasting diet, at the exact same time they decide to start a new exercise plan or boost the current exercise plan theyre on,” says Martin. “Over-exercising or working out too intensively, especially while attempting to reduce food intake, can cause energy levels to drop and hunger levels to skyrocket.” As a result, you may end up eating more calories during your eating windows than youre burning, even with the intense exercise, she notes.
How to fix it: If practicing full-day fasts , be sure to keep exercise light on fasting days. “In general, make sure your exercise regimen is challenging but still doable and enjoyable. If you notice you feel ravenous on the days you exercise, it may mean youre pushing yourself too hard,” says Martin.
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Her Success Gave Her The Confidence To Return To Work
After seven years staying home to care for her daughters, Etienne-Mesubi returned to work last November as a public health epidemiologist working in global health. She was apprehensive about rejoining the workforce and says her weight-loss success helped give her the confidence to do it. I thought, Martie, you lost all this weight, you can definitely go back to work you got this, she says.
Etienne-Mesubi shares her journey on her blog, podcast and . Anybody can do this. This is something you have control over, she says.
I feel amazing. I feel fantastic. I have newfound confidence, she says. Im saying yes to so many things. Im excited about life and my future with my family. Im a better mom and a better wife.
Why Losing Weight Fast Isnt The Best Goal
Though the allure of the lose 5 pounds in a week diet myth is strong, there are many reasons why speedy shedding may actually work against your best weight loss efforts.
First, when people lose weight rapidly, especially via fad or crash diets, they are typically unable to maintain it because the weight they lose is often more muscle mass and water and less fat mass compared to people who lose weight gradually.
Maintaining lean muscle is important in weight loss because it plays a key role in metabolism, says certified health coach and author of Sugar Shock and Beyond Sugar Shock Connie Bennett. Muscle helps you burn more calories. But when you lose weight too quickly, you lose muscle and your body slows down calorie burning. Fast weight loss can even cause permanent slowing of metabolism.
Rapid weight loss often leads to the dreaded yo-yo weight cycling many chronic dieters experience. In fact, a study of former contestants on NBCs weight loss television show The Biggest Loser found the more pounds dropped quickly, the more the participants metabolism slowed. The study also found that the contestants regained a substantial amount of their lost weight in the six years following the competition.Fothergill E, Guo J, Howard L, Kerns J, Knuth N, Brychta R, Chen K, Skarulis M, Walter M, Walter P, Hall K. Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after The Biggest Loser competition. Obesity. 2016 24:1612-1619.
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What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting.
Most types of this dietary pattern focus on limiting your meals and snacks to a specific time window typically between 6 and 8 hours of the day.
For example, 16/8 intermittent fasting involves restricting food intake to just 8 hours per day and abstaining from eating during the remaining 16 hours.
Other types involve fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week or significantly cutting calorie intake a few days per week but eating normally during the others.
Although most people practice intermittent fasting to enhance weight loss, it has been associated with many other health benefits as well. In fact, studies show that intermittent fasting may improve blood sugar levels, decrease cholesterol, and boost longevity .
Intermittent fasting is a popular eating pattern that restricts your food intake to a specific time window. It doesnt limit the types or amount of food you eat.
How Long Before Seeing Weight Loss Results
There is no definitive timeline for experiencing intermittent fasting results. However, based on scientific evidence and reported personal experiences, there are average times when measurable weight loss is likely.
A review of 41 studies revealed that, on average, a person can lose 7 to 11 pounds in a 10-week period. Three-fourths of the studies were based on adhering to an alternate day intermittent fasting schedule . Using this method of intermittent fasting, on one day you have no calorie or time restrictions and can eat what you want. The following day you are allowed consumption of only 500 calories.
Other research reported a 0.8% to 13% weight loss at some point between 2 and 26 weeks also with the alternate day fasting method . Another study on the 5:2 method , showed weight loss similar to restricting calories to lose weight .
These results will vary from person to person due to different metabolisms, their amount of physical activity, food choices, sleep schedule, stress levels, and toxic exposure. If losing weight is your priority, then fast for more hours. The longer you fast, the more stored fat you burn and the more effective your results will be.
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Youre Eating The Wrong Foods During Your Window
Just because IF focuses on your meal timing rather than macro-tracking, that doesnât give you the green light to engage in a junk food free-for-all.
âEating the wrong foods during the eating window and not getting enough nutrients is often a problem while intermittent fasting,â Shapiro tells us. âIt is essential to nourish the body with nutrient-dense whole foods so that the body can break them down during the fasted state, keeping you satiated. People use IF as an excuse to eat the wrong things, such as processed foods and sugar, which is not good for the body during the fasted state.â
To see intermittent fasting results, White recommends making the following healthy foods a priority in your diet:
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+ Ways To Break A Weight
A plateau doesnt only occur with weight loss, it will happen in many other aspects of your body , simply because your body adapts. After a few months of intermittent fasting, you might reach a plateau and feel unable to lose more weight, but there are many ways to break a weight loss plateau.
To break a plateau on intermittent fasting, you need to stress your body, just like you would stress your muscles when working out. It has adapted to your eating pattern and diet. Its not all about eating less or less often, sometimes eating more, getting carbs, taking a break in intermittent fasting, can have a huge effect on a plateau.
But first, what exactly happens in your body when you reach a plateau and are there effects specific to intermittent fasting that you should take into account?
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Exercise Makes You Healthierand Heavier
Exercise isnt that effective for weight loss specifically, because you can never do enough exercise to make up for a terrible diet.
But its super good for your physical and mental health! So I hope youll incorporate plenty of movement into your lifestyle.
Keep in mind though, exercise builds strength, and increases muscle mass.
If you gain even a little muscle, that will technically slow down your weight loss. In other words, if youre losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time, you could be getting healthier without your weight changing at all.
Thats one more reason to look for non-scale victories, rather than obsessing over your weight.
The Three Popular Approaches To Intermittent Fasting Are:
- Alternate-day fasting Eat a normal, healthy diet one day and then completely fast or have one small meal the next day. Usually, the small meal is fewer than 500 calories.
- 5-2 fasting Eat a normal diet five days a week and fast two days per week.
- Daily time-restricted fasting Eat normally but only within an eight-hour window each day. For example, skip breakfast, but eat lunch around 11 a.m. and dinner by 7 p.m.
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The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Fat loss is great, but it isnt the only benefit of fasting.
1. Intermittent fasting makes your day simpler.
Im big on behavior change, simplicity, and reducing stress. Intermittent fasting provides additional simplicity to my life that I really enjoy. When I wake up, I dont worry about breakfast. I just grab a glass of water and start my day.
I enjoy eating and I dont mind cooking, so eating three meals a day was never a hassle for me. However, intermittent fasting allows me to eat one less meal, which also means planning one less meal, cooking one less meal, and stressing about one less meal. It makes life a bit simpler and I like that.
2. Intermittent fasting helps you live longer.
Scientists have long known that restricting calories is a way of lengthening life. From a logical standpoint, this makes sense. When youre starving, your body finds ways to extend your life.
Theres just one problem: who wants to starve themselves in the name of living longer?
I dont know about you, but Im interested in enjoying a long life. Starving myself doesnt sound that appetizing.
The good news is that intermittent fasting activates many of the same mechanisms for extending life as calorie restriction. In other words, you get the benefits of a longer life without the hassle of starving.
Way back in 1945 it was discovered that intermittent fasting extended life in mice. More recently, this study found that alternate day intermittent fasting led to longer lifespans.
Reason : Bump Up The Exercise
Exercising during your fasting period can help your body burn even more fat.
When you work out in a fasted state, your body is forced to pull even more energy from your fat stores.
If possible, add your workout at the end of your fasting period, right before you can eat your first meal.
Adding exercise to the end of your fasting window can help you bump up your fat and calorie burn.
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