Can Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Weight
By Elizabeth Levinson, MDVirtua Family Physician
Americans are always looking for the best, most effective form of weight loss. Thats why the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar business. But diet crazes and fads come and go, and many of them arent effective in the long term. The most recentintermittent fastingis an eating pattern that involves regular, short-term fasts, or periods of time when you eat few or no calories.;
Intermittent fasting is receiving attention from the media as it becomes popular amongst celebrities. Supporters say that it promotes weight loss or weight maintenance while helping maintain muscle mass and control insulin levels.;
While intermittent fastingalso known as the IF or fast dietis trendy, you might wonder if it actually works AND is safe. ;
More Detail About The Fasting State For The Scientifically Inclined
The body in the fasting state uses a mixture of fatty acids released by body fat , ketones that are produced from fatty acids by the liver and glucose from glycogen to provide its energy.;All of these are needed because different body tissues need different fuels:
The muscles can use glucose from their stored glycogen for energy or can use fatty acids from fat stores
The heart works well using fatty acids
The brain and nerves mainly use glucose but can also use ketones
Red blood cells can only use glucose for fuel.
The body maintains blood glucose at levels high enough to fuel red blood cells and the brain by extracting glucose from glycogen stored in the liver . The liver can also create new glucose molecules, from conversion of stored fat, and from amino acids .
Diagram for the super nerdy
Intermittent Fasting Less Effective At Burning Body Fat Than Daily Dieting
The authors recruited study participants who were all lean and of healthy weight most IF studies look at people who are overweight. For three weeks, 36 volunteers were separated into three equal groups:
- One group undertook IF eating, with 24-hour fasts followed by days in which they were asked to eat 150% of their usual calorie intake
- A second group followed a traditional daily dieting regime, eating 75% of their normal calorie intake every day
- A final group fasted for 24 hours and then ate 200% of their normal calories on the second day, resulting in no overall calorie reduction
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Intermittent Fasting Food List
Fueling your day with a balance of foods that include optimal sources carbs, healthy fats, and protein is vital if you wish to do intermittent fasting.
Otherwise, youll experience insufficient energy slumps throughout the day and youll binge eat anything in sight as soon as youre able to find food -and not always make the best choices.
Related: Best Foods to Break Your Fast
The Metabolic Switchover To Lose Belly Fat When Intermittent Fasting
I am going to explain quickly how intermittent fasting works to reduce belly fat and we will go right it with some tips that will help you make the most of fasting to eliminate belly fat.
Fasting Lowers Insulin
Insulin is the main fat storage hormone. Your body produces insulin every time you eat and thats why fasting helps reduce insulin levels. Moreover, you will notice, the more you eat, the more you want to eat. As your body produces more and more insulin when you are constantly eating, your cells can become desensitized to the presence of insulin. Thats what we call insulin resistance. It will make you crave food even when you are not hungry as you store more fat.
Fasting Increases Human Growth Hormone
Fasting increases human growth hormone and a decrease in HGH is linked with obesity. HGH seems to regulate fat deposition in adipose tissue. All this means is that it regulates fat storage and how your cells receive fatty acids .
Fasting Helps Reorganize Fat Cells
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Types Of Intermittent Fasting For Women
Before I dive into which fasting schedule tends to work best for the female body lets first look at the different types of intermittent fasting.
Daily 12 to 16 hours fastsFor a 12 hour fast, you would eat between 8 a.m 8 p.m. A 16-hour fast would have an eating window between 12 p.m and 8 p.m.
24 Hour fastsNo food intake for a full 24 hour period done once or twice a week.
5:2 FastsConsists of 5 days with regular eating and 2 fast days in which calories are reduced to 500-600.
Alternate Day FastingFasting every other day. Some versions allow 500 calories on fast days.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
The main benefits of intermittent fasting for women are weight loss, aid in the cellular repair process, increase mental health and clarity, and reduce insulin resistance.
1. Weight Loss
Perhaps the more common reason people consider intermittent fasting is to reduce the amount they eat and overall caloric intake.
While I do not follow an intermittent fasting lifestyle for weight loss, eating your regular meals in a smaller time frame makes you feel full for most of the day, and therefore, most people are satiated enough that they dont graze.
After 12 hours, your body enters whats called a fasted state. In the fasted state, your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.
Because we dont enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, our bodies are rarely in this fat-burning state. This is one reason 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, rarely achieved on a normal eating schedule.
2. Promotes Cellular Repair Processes
Sleep cures all things, my grandmother used to say. And apparently, so does fasting.
When you sleep, your body begins to repair its cells and performs its hormonal cycles; and when your body doesnt have to deal with digestion, its able to focus on the cellular repair process fully.
3. Increase mental health and clarity
4. Reduce Insulin Resistance
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Research On Intermittent Fasting Shows Health Benefits
You wont remain in the favorable hormonal balance that comes after 13 hrs without calories for as much time as with a longer fast. If you have type 1 diabetes, other health problems due to diabetes, or How long does it take for CBD Gummies to start working? have had hypoglycemia, your doctor may recommend you not fast. Much of the research on fasting has been done in lab animals. Scientists are studying the effects in people, including those with diabetes.
The test group participants consumed all their required calories during the 8-hour time frame each day, and the normal diet group followed the standard three meals a day diet . The results showed a significant reduction in fat mass in the test group without having any adverse effects on the muscle mass. Another 2015 review states that a 24 hour fast could result in weight loss by up to 9% and also reduce body fat for over weeks 6. Weight loss is one of the most common reasons why a lot of people attempt fasting, including water fasts. The main reason for this is because your calorie intake will be significantly reduced during water fasting and also because fasting has been found to increase the bodys metabolism. Another plus of intermittent fasting, as stated earlier, is that you can also drink tea and coffee without sugar, bone broth, and other zero calorie carb-less drinks without interrupting ketosis.
What To Do When Water Fasting To Burn Fat Cells
In the last section, we introduced water fasting, a type of intermittent fast thats come up frequently on this blog. When you drink water, it travels to your bodys cells to keep them hydrated. To speed up water absorption, sip on an empty stomach, such as being on a water fast.
Besides losing weight through calorie restriction on a water fast, you also rejuvenate and detoxify your system, sort of like hitting a giant reset button. Your liver begins breaking down toxins and your digestive system works better due to the oxygen content in water.
As we said before, water fasts can last 24 to 72 hours for the most disciplined fasters. Others water fast off and on so they can maximize their fasting time. Such was the case of a man who fasted for 382 days straight. Weve talked about this on the blog, but its a fascinating story that deserves another mention.
The man, who was 27 at the time of his fast, weighed 456 pounds when he started. For over a year, he consumed supplements and water. He weighted 180 pounds by the time he was done.
If you are eating between water fasting periods, youre probably doing so nutritiously. While you may supply some glucose to your system, the water fasting periods should burn through this.
Water fasting can change that, too. Our insulin sensitivity increases, meaning our body keeps better track of the insulin it produces and does not make more than necessary.
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It Slashes Your Insulin Levels
Insulin is your primary storage hormone, and when your insulin levels are chronically high , youre in perpetual storage mode.
When youre in perpetual storage mode, when is there time to burn fat?
The reality is that there isnt, and therefore no fat will be burned. Intermittent Fasting combats this, by FORCING your insulin levels down, via a longer fasting period.
Lowered insulin levels arent just amazing for fat loss, though, its also going to help you to avoid long-term health problems like;diabetes.;
How To Do A 12
The Keto-IF diet involves following the Keto routine during the day, then IF overnight. For instance, on the first day, you can take scrambled eggs capped with avocado slices with black coffee or plain hot tea at 9 a.m., then water or a keto-friendly smoothie all morning. At noon, take lunch. This can include large leafy green salad broccoli and cauliflower topped with two tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, and 3 ounces of grilled salmon or chicken breast.
You can have macadamia nuts as a snack at 2 p.m., but this is optional. Take dinner at 5 p.m, and this can be cooked wild rice with a chicken leg with skin and two cups of zucchini prepared with olive oil. Note that a KETO IF rich in bacon and butter is different from the one rich in avocado and olive oil.
To do this combination, get approval from your physician and work with a registered dietitian conversant with the Keto-IF diet for perfect ratios.
Intermittent Fasting Schedule For Women
There is no one size fits all. Finding the right fasting schedule depends on what works best for you. As mentioned above, this will be different for all of us. For some that look like a 12 to 16-hour fasting state, starting at 8 p.m and ending 8 a.m or 12 p.m the next day.
For others that could be a 24 hour period sans food, starting 7 p.m. and ending 7 p.m. the next day.
Its important to listen to your body and know what works best for you. Overall, the best approach is one that you can stick with while maintaining focus on daily tasks and family.
Can You Lose Belly Fat By Fasting
Multiple studies on various forms of fasting, ranging from shorter Intermittent Fasts to Alternate Day Fasting have found that fasting helps to reduce visceral fat and reduce the storing hormone insulin. Not to mention, when compared to regular calorie restriction, Intermittent Fasting has been found to be better at keeping muscle mass while losing fat. This is likely due to a variety of hormonal changes that typically occur with fasting, including a dip in the storing hormone insulin as well as a boost in the muscle protecting hormone, growth hormone.
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Recommended Foods And Tips
While the 16:8 intermittent fasting plan does not specify which foods to eat and avoid, it is beneficial to focus on healthful eating and to limit or avoid junk foods. The consumption of too much unhealthful food may cause weight gain and contribute to disease.
A balanced diet focuses primarily on:
- fruits and vegetables, which can be fresh, frozen, or canned
- whole grains, including quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley
- lean protein sources, such as poultry, fish, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, low fat cottage cheese, and eggs
- healthful fats from fatty fish, olives, olive oil, coconuts, avocados, nuts, and seeds
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are high in fiber, so they can help keep a person feeling full and satisfied. Healthful fats and proteins can also contribute to satiety.
Beverages can play a role in satiety for those following the 16:8 intermittent fasting diet. Drinking water regularly throughout the day can help reduce calorie intake because people often mistake thirst for hunger.
The 16:8 diet plan permits the consumption of calorie-free drinks such as water and unsweetened tea and coffee during the 16-hour fasting window. It is important to consume fluids regularly to avoid dehydration.
Fasting Is Different Than Eating Less Throughout The Day
When we eat, we create more energy than we can use. This excess energy gets stored for later use. There are two places to store this energy.
First, theres the liver, where the energy is stored as glycogen. The problem is that there is not a lot of storage in the liver. So when it is full, liver turns the excess into fat, which can be exported all over the body. The body has unlimited storage space. But it takes about 10-12 hours for the energy stored in the liver to be used up. So when we fast for longer than that, this lowers our level of insulin, the hormone that helps store energy. This tells the body to begin to release the energy that is stored as fat. The benefits may go beyond weight loss.When the body switches to use the fat stored for energy, it produces compounds called ketones.
Ketones have been found to have benefits for brain health.One theory is that Intermittent fasting is beneficial because fasting produces a mild form of stress that activates our cellular Immune system to release protective proteins.
How Weight Management Works With Intermittent Fasting
When youre intermittent fasting, you eat all the food your body needs, but during a shorter period of time. There are many methods, but the most common involves eating during a six- to eight-hour window and fasting the remaining 14 to 16 hours. Its not as bad as it sounds, especially when you fuel up beforehand with Bulletproof Coffee to keep hunger levels in check.
Multiple studies show that intermittent fasting supports weight management. In a 2015 review pooling 40 different studies, participants lost 10 pounds in a 10-week period on average. Another smaller study of 16 obese adults following an alternate day intermittent fasting schedule resulted in them losing up to 13 pounds over 8 weeks.
Intermittent fasting also triggers a perfect storm of metabolic changes to tackle weight management and fat reduction. Heres how it can help you stay at a healthy weight:
Become An Intermittent Fasting Fat
There are a variety of ways you can increase your ability to burn fat while intermittent fasting.
The five suggestions above are just a few of the best options.
You need to commit to a healthy diet, regular exercise, and understand that intermittent fasting is only one piece of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Its not a fad diet its a lifestyle.
I hope these tips help you achieve the body you crave and deserve.
Also Check: Do’s And Don Ts Of Intermittent Fasting
It Makes A Calorie Deficit Enjoyable
One of the biggest reasons people fail to lose fat on diets is because their diet is simply tortured. Whereas the Intermittent Fasting diet is absolute heaven, assuming you do it properly.
This ties back into my previous point about consuming teas and black coffee during the fasting period to both reduce your appetite, and not make you feel like youre being deprived of anything.
On top of this, you REALLY get to enjoy the feasting period, as most people can enjoy 2k+ calories and very enjoyable meals later on in the day.;
All of this ensures that your fat loss diet is enjoyable, which means you will actually stick to it long-term.
What Are The Proposed Health Benefits Of Fasting Diets
As mentioned, the research on intermittent fasting is limited, but mice studies and small studies in humans suggest the approach may in fact be effective.
For example, in one of Varadys studies, published in June 2018 in Nutrition and Healthy Aging, 23 human participants completed 12 weeks of eight-hour time-restricted eating, and researchers compared their weight loss results to a control group from a separate trial.
Varady and her team observed that the time-restricted group lowered their body weight by 3 percent more on average compared with the control group, and they significantly lowered their systolic blood pressure. But the sample size was small, and the dropout rate among the fasting group was high, at 26 percent, for even a short-term trial, though no one in this group reported dropping out due to issues with the diet, researchers wrote.
But what about alternate-day fasting? While Varady hasnt conducted studies directly comparing alternate-day fasting to time-restricted eating, another one of her studies, published in July 2017 in JAMA Internal Medicine, showed that alternate-day fasting was difficult to stick with and didnt result in better weight loss or heart benefits than a calorie-restricted diet. For the study, she and her team randomized 100 participants to follow one of the two diets or a control group, where their diets remained the same, for one year.
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