Intermittent Fasting: Benefits How It Works And Is It Right For You
Intermittent fasting is likely something youve tried or heard of a friend trying. This weight-loss trend continues to gain a lot of attention for people looking to slim down. UC Davis Health Registered Dietitian Melinda Gong explains intermittent fasting and some of the pros and cons of the eating plan.
What Can I Eat While Intermittent Fasting
During the times when youre not eating, water and zero-calorie beverages such as black coffee and tea are permitted.
And during your eating periods, eating normally does not mean going crazy. Youre not likely to lose weight or get healthier if you pack your feeding times with high-calorie junk food, super-sized fried items and treats.
But what Williams likes about intermittent fasting is that it allows for a range of different foods to be eaten and enjoyed. We want people to be mindful and take pleasure in eating good, nutritious food, she says. She adds that eating with others and sharing the mealtime experience adds satisfaction and supports good health.
Williams, like most nutrition experts, regards the Mediterranean diet as a good blueprint of what to eat, whether youre trying intermittent fasting or not. You can hardly go wrong when you pick complex, unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grains, leafy greens, healthy fats and lean protein.
Youll Likely Feel Hungry
Even an 8- or 12-hour fast might feel like a long time when youre not used to fasting.
You may go to bed hungry several times per week. That may naturally feel unpleasant and unsustainable in the long term .
Plus, at times, it might be necessary to override your natural hunger and fullness cues in order to not break your fast earlier than planned.
This doesnt mean that fasting isnt a schedule you can get used to. Once youve adjusted to intermittent fasting, you might even find it makes you feel less hungry (
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Overeating And Potential Weight Gain
Restricting your intake to just 8 hours per day may cause some people to eat more than usual during eating periods in an attempt to make up for hours spent fasting. This may lead to weight gain, digestive problems, and unhealthy eating habits.
Interestingly, current research doesnt suggest that intermittent fasting leads to any more weight loss than typical diets that recommend overall calorie restriction. Both eating patterns may lead to modest weight loss .
If weight loss is your primary goal, you may therefore prefer to lower your calorie intake instead of fasting intermittently to prevent the overeating that may occur when restricting intake to a certain time window.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Affect The Body
For many people, intermittent fasting is the best way to achieve weight loss. But, how does it affect the body? How can you achieve the best intermittent fasting results?
Intermittent fasting significantly impacts the bodys molecular and cellular structures. When you start this process, your hormone levels shift to permit your body to burn fat. The body stores the fat in different areas, and only by accessing them can you achieve significant weight loss.
In addition, having a fasting period makes it possible for cell regeneration and repair. Intermittent fasting works to help you achieve fat loss. Another significant change that takes place is improving insulin sensitivity.
When you begin intermittent fasting, your body has lower insulin levels and fewer blood sugar problems. As a result, the fat stores all over your body are easily accessible. This is how you manage to achieve significant weight loss throughout the fast.
Also, intermittent fasting makes it possible for the body to achieve significant cellular repair. During this period, autophagy takes place. Autophagy removes old cells and dysfunctional protein anywhere inside the human cells.
An intermittent fast can even impact your gene structure in a few weeks. That way, youre less likely to be susceptible to certain illnesses. Theres significant change and improvement in your overall health while working towards a healthy weight.
Ways of Doing Intermittent Fasting
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Intermittent Fasting And Lasting Weight Loss Results
A 2017 statement by the American Heart Association says theres evidence that both alternate-day fasting and periodic fasting may be effective for short-term weight loss, but there isnt enough evidence to determine whether its effective long term. More research is needed to be able to point people in the right direction.
Remember: Many different weight loss methods can work for any number of people. Before you start any plan though, think about how sustainable it is and if it is healthy. Dont get so caught up in fasting that quality of diet is an afterthought.
Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy
The benefits of fasting largely stem from calorie restriction. When you fast, you obviously eat less .
Fasting also stimulates many cellular and molecular mechanisms that our bodies use to thrive in conditions of food scarcity. Blood sugar, insulin, resting heart rate, and blood pressure all decreasewhile insulin sensitivity and cell clean out improves. Those are all positive signs.
But the IF story isnt 100 percent good news.
Making It Work For You
For some people, aspects of intermittent fasting may be a great way to control how many calories you consume.
- If you often find yourself mindlessly overeating in the evening, setting an eight-hour window to eat within may help stop this happening. Make a point of not eating after dinner and waiting until the next day to eat again. If you follow the 16:8, for example, that would be eating dinner at 6pm and waiting until 10am the next day to eat again.
- If you find it hard to cut out complete food groups or certain favourites, the 5:2 diet means you can still enjoy these on your normal eating days .
- During normal eating periods, make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet dont just overeat on junk food.
Are You Allowed To Eat During Restricted Periods
During the hours of restricted eating, you are prohibited from eating. Although, you are allowed to take items having zero or minimal calories. These items comprise green tea, black coffee, mineral water, plain tea and others. Regarding items of eating, you are advised to eat salads comprising combination of fruit and vegetables. All these items are low in calories, so they are highly recommended for eating during periods of fasting.
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Does Intermittent Fasting Cause Muscle Loss
Intermittent fasting research is limitedcurrent studies tend to focus on weight loss, so we dont have a clear picture of how intermittent fasting may affect muscle mass .
Heres what we do know: When you reduce your calorie intake, its possible for you to lose muscle mass in addition to fat. But by introducing muscle-building exercises and consuming lean protein, you can lower your chances of losing muscle.
That may explain the results of one study, which suggests that intermittent fasting doesnt have much effect on your ability to maintain muscle mass when combined with resistance training.
If keeping or increasing muscle mass is important to your weight loss journey, its a good idea to chat with your healthcare provider for guidance.
We Asked Nutritionist Kerry Torrens For Her View
Is it safe?
Much of the emphasis of these diets is on the fasting stage, but in order to be a safe, effective and healthy style of eating, the food consumed during your ‘eating windows’ needs to be of high nutritional value. Aim to include essential fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds, lean sources of protein, wholegrains and starchy carbs and plenty of fruit and vegetables to supply dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Is it effective for weight loss and is it sustainable?
Studies suggest that when you compare IF with daily calorie restriction it is equally as effective at promoting weight loss in those who are overweight and obese. Results will vary, however, dependent on your individual circumstances and the amount of weight you have to lose. How effective it is in the longer term will depend on your ability to maintain this style of eating going forward. This is because IF is not so much a diet but rather a programme of eating, which means sustaining the weight loss is all down to how well you adapt your eating patterns in the long term.
How do different versions of IF compare?
Who should be more careful when considering fasting?
Please note: if you’re considering attempting any form of diet, please consult your GP first to ensure you can do so without risk to health.
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* Can Prove To Be A Long
Intermittent fasting can seem intimidating at first, but it is less complicated than it seems. This method simplifies your day since, unlike other diet plans, you dont have to plan a lot of meals.
Alongside, it doesnt require you to keep a close check on the macros or calorie intake, eating or eliminating certain foods that you otherwise gorge on.
Weight Loss And Fat Loss
Eating during a set period can help people reduce the number of calories that they consume. It may also help boost metabolism.
- neurodegenerative diseases
However, the research in this area remains limited.
A 2014 review reports that intermittent fasting shows promise as an alternative to traditional calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes risk reduction and weight loss in people who have overweight or obesity.
The researchers caution, however, that more research is necessary before they can reach reliable conclusions.
Other studies report that intermittent fasting reduces fasting glucose by 36% in those with prediabetes, although it has no effect on healthy individuals. It may also decrease fasting insulin by 1157% after 3 to 24 weeks of intermittent fasting.
Time-restricted fasting, such as the 16:8 method, may also protect learning and memory and slow down diseases that affect the brain.
A 2017 annual review notes that animal research has indicated that this form of fasting reduces the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and cancer.
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When It Comes To Intermittent Fasting What Are The Rules
There are several methods how to do intermittent fasting, but they all include splitting a day or week between periods of eating and fasting. The following are the most often used strategies:
- It is recommended that you skip breakfast and stick to an 8-hour eating window, such as 19 p.m., as part of the Leangains method .
- Eat-Stop-Eat: It’s necessary to fast for 24 hours at least once or twice every week, which means skipping meals from breakfast till midnight.
- On two days of the week that are not consecutive, you follow the 5:2 diet, which calls for you to consume just 500600 calories while eating regularly on the other five.
It’s safe to assume that any of these strategies will result in weight loss if you don’t overeat throughout meal times. The 16/8 method is the most popular since it is simple, long-lasting, and easy to follow. As a result, it’s the most often used kind of citation.
What Is Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
It is a sort of fasting that alternates between times of fasting and periods of eating. It doesn’t tell you what to eat, but rather when to consume it. So, rather than a diet in the classic sense, it’s more accurately described as an eating habit.
In intermittent fasting regimens, 16-hour fasts are common, as well as 24-hour fasts once a week or once every other week. Ancient hunter-gatherers had no access to supermarkets, freezers, or year-round food. They had difficulty finding food on a regular basis.
The result of this is that humans have evolved to be able to function without food for lengthy periods of time. There is something about fasting that makes it seem more natural than eating three or four times a day. All of these faiths practise some kind of fasting for religious or spiritual reasons.
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Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You
That question is difficult to answer. Overall, its important to determine why you want to try intermittent fasting, and what you hope to achieve. Is this something you plan to do forever?
Many people try fasting to lose weight, but if this isnt something you can do forever and if the plan isnt sustainable then you may regain that weight. Intermittent fasting can help with weight loss because it may help you eat less overall. This is especially true if you eat sensible portions and choose balanced meals during non-fasting times.
Take a moment to think about your eating habits. If you notice that you tend to snack a lot at night, intermittent fasting could give you a cut-off time and help you eat less. If you notice your last meal of the day is late in the evening, maybe you can eat earlier to allow your body to start fasting at that time.
You Are Not Drinking Enough Water
If you are reading, drink some water right now. Intermittent fasting restricts your meal times but places no restrictions on water drinking throughout the day.
Drink enough water to stay hydrated during your fast. You can also take tea or black coffee to replenish your lost fluids without breaking your fast.
Drinking water can keep you full till your next eating period. Therefore it keeps you from snacking and packing on extra calories.
Staying hydrated is important for your overall health. If you are exercising, you ought to drink even more water to replace what you lost through sweat.
You might also need to change your lifestyle to include better sleep if you are thinking of starting intermittent fasting.
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Frequently Asked Questions Concerns And Complaints
Im a woman. Should I do anything differently?
I havent worked with women on implementing an intermittent fasting schedule, so I cant speak from experience on this one.
That said, I have heard that women may find a wider window of eating to be more favorable when doing daily intermittent fasting. While men will typically fast for 16 hours and then eat for 8 hours, women may find better results by eating for 10 hours and fasting for 14 hours. The best advice I can give anyone, not just women, is to experiment and see what works best for you. Your body will give you signals. Follow what your body responds favorably to.
Also, if youre a female, there is an allfemale page on Facebook that discusses intermittent fasting. Im sure you could find a ton of great answers and support there.
I could never skip breakfast. How do you do it?
I dont. Breakfast foods are my favorite, so I just eat them at 1pm each day.
Also, if you eat a big dinner the night before, I think youll be surprised by how much energy you have in the morning. Most of the worries or concerns that people have about intermittent fasting are due to the fact that they have had it pounded into them by companies that they need to eat breakfast or they need to eat every three hours and so on. The science doesnt support it and neither do my personal experiences.
I thought you were supposed to eat every 3 hours?
Here’s why this was a popular idea for a brief period of time:
Here’s the problem:
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work
There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing regular time periods to eat and fast. For instance, you might try eating only during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week. There are many different intermittent fasting schedules.
Mattson says that after hours without food, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat. He refers to this as metabolic switching.
Intermittent fasting contrasts with the normal eating pattern for most Americans, who eat throughout their waking hours, Mattson says. If someone is eating three meals a day, plus snacks, and theyre not exercising, then every time they eat, theyre running on those calories and not burning their fat stores.
Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.
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Will Intermittent Fasting Break Your Metabolism
One of the biggest objections to the concept of IF is the idea that people should eat frequently to boost their metabolism. But there are a couple problems with that theory.
Problem #1: The metabolism-boosting effects of frequent eating are overrated, especially for losing fat, research suggests.
A number of years ago, some nutrition experts thought frequent meals would help folks boost metabolism through something called the thermic effect of food .
TEF is the energy used to digest, absorb, and utilize the nutrients from your food. The theory was that by eating more often, you were stimulating TEF more often.
Weve since learned, however, that the number of meals doesnt matter. TEF is stimulated equally whether you eat three 600 Calorie meals of six 300 Calorie meals.1,2,3
Problem #2: Theres a difference between fasting and starving.
Check out the definitions below.
- Fasting: Going without food long enough to trigger the body to dip into stored energy.
- Starving: A state of extreme nutrient and energy deprivation that can potentially kill us.
The difference between the two one of the key reasons IF probably wont mess with your metabolism.
Of course, you want to fast long enough to see benefits, but not so long that your body and brain start to think youre in trouble.
Fasting twice a week or every other day? It can work for some peoplebut creates problems for others. .