How Can Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Weight
Most people decide to try intermittent fasting to achieve their weight loss goal . Actually, intermittent fasting is an excellent way not only to lose weight effectively but also to get healthier. How does it work? Everything is really simple. You start consuming fewer calories when following a fasting diet plan, which reduces your overall daily calorie intake. This drastic change in your nutrition causes important changes in your body that lead to weight loss.
When you are in the fasting mode, your body starts using stored body fat for energy instead of sugars from food. This way intermittent fasting helps optimize the release of insulin. The study shows that due to hormonal changes, a short-term fasting can boost the metabolic rate by 3.614% . Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible . Fasting leads to a decrease in insulin level that prevents extra fat storage and helps your body mobilize stored fat. So, keeping your insulin level low and steady is key to weight loss. This way, you can lose extra pounds in a healthy way.
Fasting To Induce Ketosis
I already listed the three ways your body may end up in ketosis . The point of the article is to explain how intermittent fasting and ketosis work together to help you achieve your health goals, so I am going to explain how to use fasting to induce ketosis. Before we get to that, I need to explain the stages of intermittent fasting because how fast you move through all the stages will impact how you will be able to use intermittent fasting and ketosis.
The Five Stages Of Intermittent Fasting
. In this state, your body starts to break down and burn fat.
Some of this fat is used by the liver to produce ketone bodies . The two main ketones, acetoacetate and -hydroxybutyrate , serve as an alternative energy source for the cells of your heart, skeletal muscle, and brain, when glucose isnt readily available. Did you know that your brain uses up some 60% of your glucose when your body is in the resting state? During intermittent fasting, ketone bodies generated by your liver partly replace glucose as fuel for your brain as well as other organs. This ketone usage by your brain is one of the reasons that intermittent fasting is often claimed to promote mental clarity and positive mood ketones produce less inflammatory products as they are being metabolized than does glucose, and they can even kick-start production of the brain growth factor BDNF! Ketones have also been shown to reduce cellular damage and cell death in neurons and can also reduce inflammation in other cell types.
As their level in your bloodstream rises, ketones can act as signaling molecules, similar to hormones, to tell your body to ramp up stress-busting pathways that reduce inflammation and repair damaged DNA for example.
Within 24 hours, your cells are increasingly recycling old components and breaking down misfolded proteins linked to Alzheimers and other diseases . This is a process called autophagy.
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Who Should Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can be effective if you are interested in fat loss, changing your body composition or improving your overall health and reducing risks of diabetes, heart disease, etc. Because the concept and application are pretty simple, its also a good tool for those who have had a hard time adhering to other diets.
However, if you have uncontrolled blood sugar issues or a history of eating disorders, you are probably not an ideal candidate for intermittent fasting. Likewise, if you are an explosive or power athlete, your performance may suffer, depending on the timing of your workouts/competitions and your feeding window.
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.
Research from 2016 reports that men who followed a 16:8 approach for 8 weeks while resistance training showed a decrease in fat mass. The participants maintained their muscle mass throughout.
In contrast, a 2017 study found very little difference in weight loss between participants who practiced intermittent fasting in the form of alternate-day fasting rather than 16:8 fasting and those who reduced their overall calorie intake. The dropout rate was also high among those in the intermittent fasting group.
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It May Aid Weight Loss
Various methods of intermittent fasting, including 20-hour fasting cycles, have been linked to weight loss.
One study, which closely mimicked the Warrior Diet , found that people who consumed meals over four hours in the evening experienced more weight loss than those who consumed the same amount of calories in meals throughout the day.
Whats more, those who ate one meal per day showed significantly reduced fat mass and greater muscle mass .
A recent review of six studies concluded that various types of intermittent fasting, ranging from 3 to 12 months, were more effective at promoting weight loss than no dietary intervention.
However, the review found that there were no significant weight loss differences between dieters using intermittent fasting or continuous calorie restriction , meaning that calorie restriction without fasting was equally effective .
Additionally, although reducing calorie intake is the most common outcome of the Warrior Diet, some people following this eating pattern could technically consume too many calories during the four-hour overeating period and experience weight gain.
Intermittent Fasting Can Help Weight Loss
IF makes intuitive sense. The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains , are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells dont use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there.
Between meals, as long as we dont snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.
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Can Reduce Insulin Resistance Lowering Your Risk For Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has become a very common diagnosis in recent decades.
Its main feature is high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance.
Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and to lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels .
In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 36% over the course of 812 weeks in people with prediabetes. Fasting insulin has been reduced by 2031% .
One study in mice with diabetes also showed that intermittent fasting improved survival rates and protected against diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication that can lead to blindness .
What this implies is that intermittent fasting may be highly protective for people who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
However, there may be some differences between the sexes. One 2005 study in women showed that blood sugar management actually worsened after a 22-day long intermittent fasting protocol (
Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels, at least in men.
‘intermittent Fasting’ Diet Could Boost Your Health
THURSDAY, Dec. 26, 2019 — Here comes the new year, and with it hordes of folks looking for ways to fulfill resolutions to eat healthy.
Intermittent fasting is a legitimate option they might want to consider, claims a new review in the Dec. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“The state of the science on intermittent fasting has evolved to the point that it now can be considered as one approach, with exercise and healthy food, to improving and maintaining health as a lifestyle approach,” said senior author Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist with Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.
There are two main ways to adopt intermittent fasting into your life, Mattson said:
- Daily time-restricted feeding gives you a narrow window during which you can eat, usually 6 to 8 hours each day.
- 5:2 intermittent fasting requires that people only eat one moderate-sized meal on two days each week.
When people are fasting, they are slowly burning through the glucose stored in their liver, Mattson explained. The liver holds about 700 calories of glucose.
“It takes 10 to 12 hours to use the liver’s energy stores,” Mattson said. “Then what happens is, fats are used for energy.”
This process is called “metabolic switching,” and the three-meals-a-day eating pattern favored by Americans doesn’t allow their bodies to run through their liver’s energy stores and make the switch to fat-burning, Mattson said.
New England Journal of Medicine
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Safety And Side Effects
Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting.
You may also feel weak and your brain may not perform as well as youre used to.
This may only be temporary, as it can take some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule.
If you have a medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
This is particularly important if you:
- Have diabetes.
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
All that being said, intermittent fasting has an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if youre healthy and well-nourished overall.
The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting with a doctor first.
Here are answers to the most common questions about intermittent fasting.
How To Start Intermittent Fasting For Beginners
I, and probably most dietitians out there, dont suggest beginners should just jump into intermittent fasting like its something theyve been doing for years.
If you are just starting out, it is really important to take it slow and ease into things patiently. Because lets face it, you probably already have certain eating habits, that are not that simple to change.
Therefore going from eating maybe four to five meals a day to only one or no meals at all will feel uncomfortable.
Thats why you need a plan, and a quick-start guide, that will make the process of getting used to things simple.
This is how I did it for a smooth transition, and what I recommend you do too!
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Should You Do Intermittent Fasting And The Keto Diet
We have a crazy extensive guide on the Keto Diet in case youre not familiar with it, so here it is in a nutshell:
This process is called ketosis, and there are two ways for a body to enter ketosis:
- Eating in a way that induces ketosis .
- FastingHey, thats what youre reading about right now!
We actually have an amazing success story here on Nerd Fitness, Larry, who followed our strategies, went Keto and start intermittent fasting. He ended up losing weight, getting stronger, AND overcame the challenges of rheumatoid arthritis !
Heres how the fasting portion of it works:
As your body enters a fast period when there are no sources of glucose energy readily available, the liver begins the process of breaking down fat into ketones.
Fasting itself can trigger ketosis.
Fasting for a period of time before kicking off a Keto-friendly eating plan COULD speed your transition into the metabolic state of ketosis, and fasting intermittently while in ketosis could help you maintain that state.
I personally love fasting for the simplicity: I skip breakfast every day and train in a fasted state. Its one less decision I have to make, its one less opportunity to make a bad food choice, and it helps me reach my goals.
WHY KETO + IF WORKS = eating Keto can be really challenging. And every time you eat, its an opportunity to do it wrong and accidentally eat foods that knock you out of ketosis.
Youre also tempted to overeat.
Your value may vary!
You need to decide what works for you.
Ive Made The Decision To Fast So How Long Should I Fast For
There arent any studies right now that state exactly how long one should fast. Researchers, like Dr. Peterson, are working on that. The minimum amount of time it takes to make fasting efficacious hasnt been proven via study, but the prevailing notion is its somewhere between 12 and 18 hours. But it can take a few days sometimes weeks of fasting regularly for your body to start burning fat for fuel. Brooke Alpert, nutritionist and author of The Diet Detox, suggests starting by moving your last meal to around 7 p.m. She said the reason for this is our bodies are better at doing some things at certain times. Our bodies are better at processing sugar in the morning than at night, said Dr. Varady. So eat bigger meals in the morning, for example.
And how often do you have to do daily intermittent fasting to see the benefit? Again, there hasnt been a study thats shown exactly how many days you need to fast, but a recent study in rodents showed they get about the same benefits fasting five days per week as they did fasting every day. The great thing is that were learning is that this type of fasting isnt all or nothing, said Dr. Peterson.
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Can I Work Out While Fasting
Absolutely! In fact, regular workouts will help you lose weight much faster, but its important to choose the right exercise program during the fasting period. You can do 3-4 full body workouts per week to burn fat more effectively. If you are fasting its better to do cardio low-intensity workouts. Make sure to listen to your body: if you feel dizzy, stop exercising. You can get back to high-intensity workouts only after youve eaten.
Getting Started With Intermittent Fasting: Next Steps
Intermittent fasting can potentially have some very positive benefits for somebody trying to lose weight or gain lean body mass.
Men and women will tend to have different results, just like each individual person will have different results. The ONLY way to find out is through a conversation with your doctor and self-experimentation.
There are multiple ways to do an Intermittent Fasting Plan:
- Fast and feast regularly: Fast for a certain number of hours, then consume all calories within a certain number of hours.
- Eat normally, then fast 1-2x a week: Consume your normal meals every day, then pick one or two days a week where you fast for 24 hours. Eat your last meal Sunday night, and then dont eat again until dinner the following day.
- Fast occasionally: probably the easiest method for the person who wants to do the least amount of work. Simply skip a meal whenever its convenient. On the road? Skip breakfast. Busy day at work? Skip lunch. Eat poorly all day Saturday? Make your first meal of the day dinner on Sunday.
After that, get started! Take photos, step on the scale, and track your progress for the next month.
See how your body responds.
See how your physique changes. See how your workouts change.
And then decide if its something you want to keep doing!
4 years later, I have no plans on going back to eating breakfast. Sorry General Mills and Dr. Kellogg!
If youre worried about all of this stuff, or arent sure when to eat and stop eating, try out our new app!
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How To Start Intermittent Fasting
There are a few different ways to start intermittent fasting. One of the most popular methods is the 16:8 approach. Its a great place to start your intermittent fasting journey. This is a type of time-restricted eating. You will be cycling through eating and non-eating windows each day.
Another popular method is the 5:2 approach. This would involve you eating a healthy diet for five days of the week. On the other two days, you would eat a calorie-restricted diet of about 500 to 700 calories or go without food completely. Other methods include alternate-day fasting, Eat Stop Eat, and whole-day fasting.
The method you choose is down to you. Some people may find it easier to keep cycling through fasting and eating windows. However, others may prefer to eat less on a couple of days. It eventually comes down to personal preference and what works best for your body and lifestyle.
Research shows that those who eat earlier during intermittent fasting experience more health benefits. Participants who had a longer nighttime fast experienced significant improvements in metabolism. This suggests that ending your eating window earlier is more beneficial to your health. In this case, you would eat breakfast and have your final meal by around 3PM.