How Do I Try Intermittent Fasting
There are four popular fasting approaches: periodic fasting, time-restricted feeding, alternate-day fasting and the 5:2 diet. Time-restricted feeding, sometimes called daily intermittent fasting, is perhaps the easiest and most popular fasting method. Daily intermittent fasters restrict eating to certain time periods each day, say 11 in the morning to 7 at night. The fasting period is usually around 12 or more hours that, helpfully, includes time spent sleeping overnight. Periodic fasting will feel most familiar: no food or drinks with calories for 24-hour periods. Another type of fast, alternate-day fasting requires severe calorie reduction every other day. Lastly, the 5:2 method was popularized by author Kate Harrisons book The 5:2 Diet” and requires fasting on two nonconsecutive days a week.
Level Of Effort: Hard
Limitations: Its not easy to skip most of your calories a few days a week and rely mostly on water, coffee, and tea to keep you feeling full. Youll need a balanced meal plan to eat in moderation on your so-called “feast” days, despite their name. You can indulge in a treat occasionally, but that’s about it if you want to see results.
Cooking and shopping: You can continue your regular cooking and shopping, as long as you stick to mostly healthy foods.
Packaged food and meals? No.
In-person meetings: No.
Exercise: How much you exercise is up to you. But obviously, youre not going to have a lot of energy for that on your fasting days. The creators of the Every Other Day diet studied people doing cardiovascular exercise while on the alternate-day fasting plan and found that they were able to maintain muscle mass while fasting.
Pros And Cons Of Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
Like any weight loss method, there are pros and cons to intermittent fasting. Most weight loss techniques come with similar pros and cons. Those being that they are great for results, pose some risks and are not ideal for everyone. So lets take a look at the positives and negatives for IF and weight loss.
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Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting
If youre interested in trying intermittent fasting, you should talk with your doctor to see if its safe for you, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition, such as a history of eating disorders, problems with blood sugar, low blood pressure, diabetes, or if you take other medications. Avoid intermittent fasting if youre pregnant or breastfeeding.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? Share your experience with us in the comments below!
Research Review Shows Intermittent Fasting Works For Weight Loss Health Changes
Intermittent fasting can produce clinically significant weight loss as well as improve metabolic health in individuals with obesity, according to a new study review led by University of Illinois Chicago researchers.
We noted that intermittent fasting is not better than regular dieting both produce the same amount of weight loss and similar changes in blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation, said Krista Varady, professor of nutrition at the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences and author of Cardiometabolic Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
Krista Varady, professor of nutrition, UIC College of Applied Health Sciences.
According to the analysis published in the Annual Review of Nutrition, all forms of fasting reviewed produced mild to moderate weight loss, 1%-8% from baseline weight, which represents results that are similar to that of more traditional, calorie-restrictive diets. Intermittent fasting regimens may also benefit health by decreasing blood pressure and insulin resistance, and in some cases, cholesterol and triglyceride levels are also lowered. Other health benefits, such as improved appetite regulation and positive changes in the gut microbiome, have also been demonstrated.
The review looked at over 25 research studies involving three types of intermittent fasting:
Various studies of time-restricted eating show participants with obesity losing an average of 3% of their body weight, regardless of the time of the eating window.
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How Do You Get Started With Intermittent Fasting
One common mistake I see with Intermittent Fasting is people jump in without a plan. I’ve seen this mistake lead to hormone imbalances, extreme sugar cravings and halted weight loss results. I believe that knowledge is power and with the right tools, you can achieve your wellness dreams while still eat foods you love!
That’s why I created The Complete Intermittent Fasting Program. It contains all of the latest research on Intermittent Fasting, breaks down the science so you can understand what you’re doing and why. It even has 8 weeks of meal-by-meal planning with delicious recipes to help keep you satiated AND your taste buds happy! I’m talking L.A. Street Tacos, Pumpkin Chili, Strawberry Coconut Muffins, Spicy Curry and MORE! The Program also includes a 3 week workout program and exercise strategies specifically designed for Intermittent Fasting in order to maximize your fat burning results!
Putting A Plan In Place
Planning your fasting routine is a great success tool. Once youve chosen your fasting method and found a schedule that fits, a plan will allow it all to work together.
Like any dieting technique, meal and exercises plans help. They encourage you to stay on track.
Like scheduling, planning is also specific to the fasting method you choose. In general, there are no specific meal plans for intermittent fasting. Instead, you should eat nutritious balanced meals. Avoid snacking or overeating to achieve the best results.
It is safe to exercise whilst fasting. Whether that be after eating or during the fast. Some like to exercise on an empty stomach. This can excel fat burning. Others like to exercise after eating. Either plan is fine and safe. It depends on the person.
Exercising alongside fasting is also very beneficial. It can increase weight loss and improves the mental attitude towards fasting.
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May Smooth Your Path To Ketosis
Intermittent fasting may help your body reach ketosis quicker than the keto diet alone.
Thats because your body, when fasting, maintains its energy balance by shifting its fuel source from carbs to fats the exact premise of the keto diet .
For anyone who struggles to reach ketosis while on a keto diet, adding intermittent fasting may effectively jumpstart your process.
Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Besides losing weight, people who fast may experience improved heart and brain functions because of reduced insulin.
Think of your insulin level as the first domino in the whole-body cascade of what can happen with intermittent fasting, Dr. Hutchins says. If you have high insulin levels, that can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated triglycerides. Those things together are called metabolic syndrome, which increases risk for cardiovascular disease. So, if your insulin level decreases, you will probably lose weight, and your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure will improve.
The drop in cholesterol can also decrease the inflammation caused by metabolic syndrome, namely plaque buildup in the arteries and overall cardiovascular inflammation. As a result of these improvements, people can also reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, he adds.
This process can happen even in the absence of weight loss, and Dr. Hutchins notes that its not specific to intermittent fasting. Some people can intermittently fast and be on a strict regimen, but if they eat a bunch of junk on the days they can eat, the diet wont have an effect on heart health, he says. This effect is probably more specific to what theyre eating than to when theyre eating.
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Fasting For 2 Days A Week
People following the 5:2 diet eat standard amounts of healthful food for 5 days and reduce calorie intake on the other 2 days.
During the 2 fasting days, men generally consume 600 calories and women 500 calories.
Typically, people separate their fasting days in the week. For example, they may fast on a Monday and Thursday and eat normally on the other days. There should be at least 1 non-fasting day between fasting days.
There is limited research on the 5:2 diet, which is also known as the Fast diet. A involving 107 overweight or obese women found that restricting calories twice weekly and continuous calorie restriction both led to similar weight loss.
The study also found that this diet reduced insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity among participants.
A small-scale study looked at the effects of this fasting style in 23 overweight women. Over the course of one menstrual cycle, the women lost 4.8 percent of their body weight and 8.0 percent of their total body fat. However, these measurements returned to normal for most of the women after 5 days of normal eating.
Is 16/8 Intermittent Fasting Right For You
16/8 intermittent fasting can be a sustainable, safe and easy way to improve your health when paired with a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle.
However, it shouldnt be viewed as a substitute for a balanced, well-rounded diet rich in whole foods. Not to mention, you can still be healthy even if intermittent fasting doesnt work for you.
Though 16/8 intermittent fasting is generally considered safe for most healthy adults, you should talk to your doctor before giving it a try, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
This is key if youre taking any medications or have diabetes, low blood pressure or a history of disordered eating.
Intermittent fasting is also not recommended for women who are trying to conceive or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you have any concerns or experience any adverse side effects while fasting, be sure to consult your doctor.
16/8 intermittent fasting involves eating only during an 8-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours.
It may support weight loss and improve blood sugar, brain function and longevity.
Eat a healthy diet during your eating period and drink calorie-free beverages like water or unsweetened teas and coffee.
Its best to talk to your doctor before trying intermittent fasting, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
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The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Fat loss is great, but it isn’t the only benefit of fasting.
1. Intermittent fasting makes your day simpler.
I’m 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 don’t worry about breakfast. I just grab a glass of water and start my day.
I enjoy eating and I don’t 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.
May Enhance Heart Health By Improving Blood Pressure Triglycerides And Cholesterol Levels
Heart disease is considered the leading cause of death around the world, accounting for an estimated 31.5% of deaths globally .
Switching up your diet and lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Some research has found that incorporating fasting into your routine may be especially beneficial when it comes to heart health.
Another study in 110 obese adults showed that fasting for three weeks under medical supervision significantly decreased blood pressure, as well as levels of blood triglycerides, total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol .
In addition, one study in 4,629 people associated fasting with a lower risk of coronary artery disease, as well as a significantly lower risk of diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease (
However, more studies are needed to evaluate the effects of fasting on brain function in humans.
Summary Animal studies show that fasting could improve brain function, increase nerve cell synthesis and protect against neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons.
Does The Timing Of The Eating Window Matter
According to a 2019 randomized controlled trial, coordinating meal times with the circadian rhythms may be a powerful tool to reduce appetite, lose weight, and improve metabolic health . Eating earlier in the day may help to reduce hunger throughout the day, ultimately leading to weight loss . Participants in this study were overweight, but otherwise generally healthy. They were assigned to two different time restricted feeding schedules:
- A control, in which participants consumed three meals over a 12-hour period
- An early time restricted feeding schedule, in which participants consumed three meals over a 6-hour period .
Early time-restricted feeding shifts the majority of caloric intake to earlier in the day. Results of this study showed that early time-restricted feeding helped to improve participants ability to switch from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat for energy . The results showed that early time-restricted feeding resulted in lower levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and increased fat burned over a 24-hour period . This study found that early time-restricted feeding reduced ghrelin levels and increased feelings of fullness over the course of the day.
Another study compared weight loss among overweight women who consumed a high-caloric breakfast vs. those who consumed a high-caloric dinner .
What Is Circadian Rhythm
Eating earlier in the day more closely aligns with the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a natural, 24-hour cycle that is part of our internal clock and regulates the sleep-wake cycle, hormone release, hunger cues, and other metabolic processes . It helps to regulate our energy expenditure, appetite, and insulin sensitivity . Our bodies were designed to go through a natural eat-fast cycle over the course of 24-hours when we are awake vs. asleep .
With the advances in technology, we no longer have to align our dietary habits with the natural sleep/wake cycle, and this often has negative consequences to our health. Since the circadian rhythm regulates enzymes and hormones involved in metabolic processes, a disruption in this can lead to obesity and insulin resistance .
Many of our metabolic processes peak early the day, and therefore eating in sync with the circadian rhythm can promote weight loss and improve various aspects of our metabolic health . Therefore, meal timing has implications in weight, appetite, satiety, and glucose and lipid metabolism . Studies have shown that those who eat later in the day and skip breakfast are actually at a greater risk for obesity and have increased lipogenesis compared to people who eat the same amount of calories earlier in the day .
Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
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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.
What Else You Should Know
Cost: None beyond your shopping. In fact, because you will eat much less 2 to 4 days per week, your grocery costs should go down.
Support: There are several books and websites detailing variations on the basic idea of fasting a few days a week. So though there’s no single destination for support, there are plenty of resources once you’ve decided which version of the plan appeals most to you.
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Intermittent Fasting Can Still Lead To Weight Gain
Feeling starved during your fasting period might make some people more prone to binging behaviors when theyre not fasting. And eating more calories than what your body burns will lead to a long-term increase in body fat even if you consistently fast for 12-16 hours each day.
In other words, if you are having trouble maintaining your hunger and end up going completely rogue on your non-fasting periods, you could end up gaining weight.
Going rouge during your non-fasting periods can sabotage your health goals, start a meal prep routine or plan your meals to ensure you’re nourishing your body.
Not sure what style of diet is right for you? Use a meal plan quiz to get started!