Intermittent Fasting Can Be Hard But Maybe It Doesnt Have To Be
Initial human studies that compared fasting every other day to eating less every day showed that both worked about equally for weight loss, though people struggled with the fasting days. So, I had written off IF as no better or worse than simply eating less, only far more uncomfortable. My advice was to just stick with the sensible, , diet.
New research is suggesting that not all IF approaches are the same, and some are actually very reasonable, effective, and sustainable, especially when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet. So Im prepared to take my lumps on this one .
We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as .
Based on this, researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day ,or spread out over 12 hours . Both groups maintained their weight but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They werent starving.
Fasting One Day A Week
Choosing to fast one day per week to lose weight is not guaranteed to bring you the results you want, cautions the National Institute on Aging, but if done carefully and knowledgeably, it should also not do you any harm. There are several things to keep in mind as you fast, suggests the NIA.
Make sure that what you eat on nonfasting days is a lean and nutritious diet built around leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean protein such as chicken and fish, and healthy fats from avocados and olive oils.
It is also important, say the experts at the NIA, to get enough sleep, do some sort of regular exercise and keep up with your social contacts it is far easier to tackle a challenge such as intermittent fasting if you are well rested and have plenty of emotional support.
How Do Fasting Diets Work To Help Rev Weight Loss
The idea behind intermittent fasting is that it increases your metabolic rate, which helps you burn more calories. And by restricting the time periods during the day when you eat, you take in fewer calories each day.
Going into diet change, I knew there was only early evidence that fasting can lead to temporary weight loss, and that more research is needed especially on the potential long-term health effects of this diet. As it stands, experts warn that fasting may not be safe, or smart, for everyone. Fasting is not recommended for some groups, such as pregnant or lactating women, some people with diabetes, people dealing with eating disorders or issues such as low blood sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic. Thats why experts stress that its important to consult your healthcare team before trying any type of fast.
Despite the lack of comprehensive research on intermittent fasting, this eating style has helped me lose weight, regain my energy, and become more mindful about my eating choices.
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How Much Weight Can You Lose
Your weight loss during water fasting will depend mostly on your gender and your weight.
Luckily, science can already offer us with a pretty good estimate of how much weight you can expect to lose on a typical water fast.
According to research that compared the average weight loss results between men and women, men can expect to lose more weight than women during water fasting.
I’ve compiled the data from the study into this pretty long table:
|Water fast duration|
Ok, so, like I said, you don’t need to do ANY manual calculations.
But just so you understand how the calculator works, here are two example calculations:
Example 1 :You’re a 150-lbs woman who plans on doing a 7-day water fast.
You can estimate your weight loss results by taking the value from the second column in the table for a 7-day water fast and multiply it by your current weight.
Your estimated 7-day water fasting results: 150 lbs * 4.5 / 100 = -6.8 lbs
Example 2 :You’re a 180-lbs man who plans on doing a 14-day water fast.
You can estimate your weight loss results by taking the value from the third column in the table for a 14-day water fast and multiply it by your current weight.
Your estimated 14-day water fasting results: 180 lbs * 7.9 / 100 = -14.2 lbs
Ok, now that you have a good idea about how much weight you can expect to lose, let’s take a closer look at what really goes on under the hood.
You Need To Exhibit Self
Self-control is a must during periods of fasting and not fasting. Calorically rewarding yourself for a successful fast counteracts what you are trying to accomplish. Pilon advises, “When you finish your fast, you need to pretend that your fast never happened. No compensation, no reward, no special way of eating, no special shakes, drinks or pills.” This is harder than it sounds, but crucial to your fasting for weight loss success. Fasting for several hours does not give you permission to eat whatever you want in whatever quantities that you want.
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Sowhat Exactly Is Alternate
You already know that it’s a type of intermittent fasting , which means you won’t be eating during a designated period of time. But as mentioned, alternate-day fasting stands out from hours-based intermittent-fasting diets , as it revolves around full days at a time. Typically, on fasting days , most people limit themselves to 500 or 600 calories for the entire day, Dweck says.
Keep in mind, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women should be consuming about 1,800 to 2,400 calories a day. So limiting yourself to just 500 calories a dayeven if it’s just a few days of the weekis quite extreme, and can bring with it some serious side effects, both good and bad.
Are Fasting Diets Effective For Improving Health And Losing Weight
While more research is needed, preliminary studies have found that fasting diets, namely alternate-day and intermittent-fasting diets, effectively reduce calorie intake and cause weight loss . Two studies found that despite intense energy restriction every other day in ADF, participants ate only slightly more than normal on feeding days, resulting in calorie reduction of about 25-35% over 48 hours . There is no evidence, however, that fasting diets are more effective in weight loss than daily calorie restriction diets .
While studies show that people lose similar amounts of weight short-term on both intermittent fasting diets and daily calorie restriction diets, many people on both diets regain the weight later on . Those following a fasting diet, however, have regained less weight from fat than individuals on a daily restriction diet in some studies . Maintaining weight loss after a diet is only possible with long-term changes in health and nutrition habits. Emphasizing behavior change during dieting and completing a weight maintenance program may minimize weight regain , but fasting diets alone do not reduce the risk of weight regain.
Ask a doctor before beginning a diet, especially if you:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
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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.
Vegetarians And Vegans May Have An Increased Risk Of Stroke
Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed the risk of stroke and other health problems over two decades among nearly 50,000 people based on the diets they followed. The types of stroke were also analyzed, including bleeding into the brain and nonbleeding stroke . Compared with meat eaters:
- rates of heart disease were 13% lower in pescatarians
- rates of heart disease were 22% lower in vegetarians
- rates of stroke were 20% higher among vegetarians. However, the overall risk was small, equal to three extra cases per 1,000 people over 10 years.
- the higher stroke risk among vegetarians was mostly due to hemorrhagic stroke
- the higher stroke risk was not observed among pescatarians.
If confirmed, these findings will complicate the way we look at plant-based diets. Are there serious and underappreciated downsides to these diets that should make us think twice about choosing them? Or is the increased risk of stroke heavily outweighed by cardiac and other health benefits?
This study is also a reminder that the health impact of a particular intervention may not be easy to predict or explain. In most cases, the risk of stroke and heart disease tend to rise or fall together, but that wasnt the case in this research.
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Loss Of Lean Body Mass
In one study, scientists proved that it’s possible to destroy as much as 13 pounds of lean body mass during a 21-day water fast.
Now, maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t really care about how much muscle mass they lose during a water fast.
Maybe you just want to get rid of that annoying body fat as quickly as possible, and you’re willing to sacrifice some lean body mass as you do that.
But even if that’s you, you should know that the single most important muscle in your body that can suffer because of this is your heart.
And while a short water fast isn’t likely to cause any serious damage your heart, I’m telling you about this stuff to make sure you always stay on the safe side with fasting.
But still. If you ask me, losing even a single pound of muscle mass mass as you go after a quick drop of that number on your scale isn’t really worth it.
Especially since science has already discovered a better and more effective way of fasting.
Why Fasting For Weight Loss Can Backfire
When you eat less than you need and you lose weight, your body goes into a starvation mode. To save energy, your metabolism slows down.
When you’re done fasting and you go back to your usual diet, you may regain the weight you lost, and then some.
On a fast, your body adjusts by curbing your appetite, so you will feel less hungry at first. But once you have stopped fasting, your appetite revs back up. You may feel hungrier and be more likely to overeat.
Fasting every other day has similar results. It helps people lose weight, but not for long.
In one study, people who fasted every other day shed weight, even when they ate all they wanted on days when they weren’t fasting. But the weight loss didn’t last over time.
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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.
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Improves Memory Brain Function And Mood
Not to get too technical, but there’s a specific protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor that is elevated during prolonged periods of fasting.
‘This protein interacts with the part of the brain that strengthens memory and learning, improving a person’s cognitive ability,’ explains consultant psychologist and co-founder of My Online Therapy, Dr Elena Touroni.
According to Dr Touroni, it can also have a profound impact on your mood, as fasting increases the levels of certain chemicals like dopamine which can increase happiness and confidence whilst reducing anxiety and anxiety attack prevalence.
Fasting For Religious Reasons
One of the most cited religious events associated with fasting is the period of Ramadan. During the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise until sunset. Although Ramadan does not involve a continual fast, it provides a useful insight into short-term food restriction in otherwise healthy humans. There is a misconception that this religious fast results in decreased energy intake , as investigators have found either increases in EI or comparable levels of EI before, during and after Ramadan, despite a decrease in meal frequency. Similarly, Finch et al. reported no change in body weight during the period of Ramadan. Thus, although the physiological effects of sleep deprivation and dehydration occurring during Ramadan may provide concern, there is no evidence for restricted EI during this religious fast. Thus, these data would suggest that adult humans are capable of making compensatory changes in food intake in response to a short-term fast in order to maintain body weight.
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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.
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