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Why Does Intermittent Fasting Work For Weight Loss

Intermittent Fasters: Two Ways To Know

Why Intermittent Fasting Works For Weight Loss

Inverse talked to five intermittent fasters on Reddit to find out: how do you know your intermittent fasting regimen works?

Their responses echo some of the researchersâ replies, too: They observed changes within their body and these changes tended to include weight loss. Hereâs what they had to say:

  • âI started for weight maintenance, and itâs been good for that,â writes Patrick, a 30-year-old based in Australia.
  • âMy resting heart rate has gone down by 40 points ,â writes Reddit user u/mogli_170, who is 27 years old. âMy weight has reduced a significant amount .â
  • âThe reasons that I feel that is working for me are that Iâm losing weight in a steady way,â writes Reddit user u/RS_Stylish, who is a 24-year-old man.
  • âI guess I know itâs working because itâs the steadiest, most consistent weight loss Iâve ever achieved,â writes Reddit user u/Miszteek, who is a 35-year-old woman. âI fasted for two weeks sans exercise and lost the same amount of weight as the two weeks in which I did exercise.â

Essentially these responses boil down to two quantifiable things: Steady weight loss and a lower resting heart rate.

But much of the fastersâ enthusiasm for the regimen seems to stem from other, more qualitative factors â intermittent fasting was something people could realistically maintain, and intermittent fasting resulted, perhaps most crucially, in a change of their relationship with food and dieting.

Can You Lose Weight Without A Calorie Deficit

When people talk about intermittent fasting, they often mention that you dont have to count calories. Thats true! However, thats not to say that you dont need a calorie deficit to lose weight. What most likely happens is that intermittent fasting creates a calorie deficit naturally as your appetite decreases. It may also be that you are decreasing inflammation, which also helps losing weight. If you want to lose weight using intermittent fasting, read Top 5 Reasons Why You Are Not Losing Weight Using Intermittent Fasting.

Why Might Changing Timing Help

But why does simply changing the timing of our meals to allow for fasting make a difference in our body? An in-depth review of the science of IF recently published in New England Journal of Medicine sheds some light. Fasting is evolutionarily embedded within our physiology, triggering several essential cellular functions. Flipping the switch from a fed to fasting state does more than help us burn calories and lose weight. The researchers combed through dozens of animal and human studies to explain how simple fasting improves metabolism, lowering blood sugar lessens inflammation, which improves a range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and even helps clear out toxins and damaged cells, which lowers risk for cancer and enhances brain function. The article is deep, but worth a read!

Read Also: How To Start Doing Intermittent Fasting

A Lifestyle And Not Just A Diet

Intermittent fasting shouldnt be something of a task for you. In fact, many people unintentionally fast for long periods of time when they skip breakfast.

Likewise, design a routine that works with your lifestyle. Contrary to other diet routines, IF actually offers multiple benefits for aging and disease prevention and not just weight loss.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Aid Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting

You can combine intermittent fasting with other dietary plans like the ketogenic diet for better weight loss results and a healthier lifestyle. Make sure you do this under the supervision of a certified nutritionist.

The following are the ways in which intermittent eating pattern promotes weight loss:

  • Increases Fat Burning:

    Intermittent fasting increases the production of the hormone norepinephrine, which boosts your metabolism. This helps to burn calories leading to weight loss.

  • Maintains Muscle Mass:

    Intermittent fasting helps lose extra, harmful fat deposits in the body while maintaining lean muscle mass compared to other dietary weight loss methods.

  • Helps Lose Belly Fat:

    Intermittent fasting helps to lose belly fat faster. Losing abdominal fat reduces the risk of coronary diseases among men, helps reduce waist circumference also making you look lean and fit.

  • Blood Sugar Management:

    Intermittent fasting helps to manage blood sugar levels and insulin. As insulin levels decrease, it improves the rate of burning fat in the body.

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Intermittent Fasting: Surprising Update

Theres a ton of incredibly promising intermittent fasting research done on fat rats. They lose weight, their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars improve but theyre rats. Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that IF is safe and incredibly effective, but really no more effective than any other diet. In addition, many people find it difficult to fast.

But a growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention.

Why 16 Hours For Intermittent Fasting

Since we know now that prolonged fasting burns fat more efficiently, why should we fast for 16 hours?

There are two substantial reasons for 16 hours of intermittent fasting:

  • Integration into everyday life
  • Induction of autophagy

On the one hand, the 16 hours of intermittent fasting have practical reasons. If you skip breakfast or dinner, you have already reached the 16 hours of intermittent fasting.

To eat only from noon to 8 PM can be easier than you might think because morning hunger can be unlearned.

Thus, and because it means that you can always have dinner with your family, you can comfortably integrate this 16/8 schedule into everyday life.

Autophagy, on the other hand, is the intracellular recycling system in your body and the second reason for the 16 hours of intermittent fasting.

Moreover, autophagys discovery was such a scientific milestone that it was rewarded with the Nobel Prize .

When food is scarce, the body goes from growth into maintenance mode. Then it does not want to grow any further but to recycle broken cell parts.

Therefore, the following three nutrient sensors exist in the body, switching autophagy on and off:

  • Insulin: Sensitive to carbohydrates and proteins
  • mTOR: Sensitive to proteins
  • AMPK: Sensitive to lack of energy in cells

So if the dietary energy supply regardless of which macronutrient to cells is interrupted, cells want to react sustainably and use disused cell parts to generate energy.

Also Check: How Much Weight Do You Lose With Intermittent Fasting

Typical Fasting Weight Loss Plans

Fasting regimens vary, but the basic premise usually starts with a strict regimen allowing only water, juice and/or some kind of laxative concoction. Some plans allow a few solid foods, but are still called fasts because they provide so few calories.

Not all fasts are created equal. Some can be perfectly safe, such as medical fasts supervised by a physician. Religious and cultural fasts are typically undertaken as an act of devotion, last from 24-48 hours, and are not intended to promote weight loss.

Fasts lasting a day or two are unlikely to be dangerous for most healthy adults. But high-risk people, the elderly, anyone with a chronic disease, pregnant women, and children are advised against any type of fasting.

The real danger lies in staying on the fast for prolonged periods, anywhere from three days to a month.

Ketosis With Intermittent Fasting Step

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss

You will need to think of the right schedule for your lifestyle and experiment to see what works best for you.

Kickstart Ketosis

If you are just getting started with intermittent fasting, I suggest you start with the fasting mimicking diet or the keto diet. If you choose the keto diet, you may only need a few days as well. You will most likely get the keto flu and when you feel better, you will be in ketosis.

If you choose the fasting mimicking diet, you may not notice a difference the first time around. Keep experimenting with intermittent fating the rest of the month and you will notice that when you do the fasting mimicking diet again , it will be a lot easier. You will achieve ketosis.

Choose Your Intermittent Fasting Schedule

For some people, it takes more than 16 hours to get in ketosis using intermittent fasting. Testing could be helpful. I use this ketone monitor :

You are in ketosis when your reading is anything above 0.5 mmol/L. With time, you will know the difference without even measuring.

Start gradually, fast from 8 pm to noon the next day for 2-3 weeks, and see if you notice a difference. If you dont, increase your fasting window or try a different intermittent fasting method that doesnt require daily fasting like the Eat-Stop-Eat Diet.

Read Also: How To Reduce Fasting Glucose Levels

Fasting Promotes Gut Health

Intermittent fasting schedules also work to improve gut health.

On the one hand, fasting periods permit your gastrointestinal tract to rest. On the other hand, it starves harmful gut bacteria.

But already shorter intermittent fasting periods work. Accordingly, a recent study suggests, which determines an extension of life expectancy with short intermittent fasting periods at a young age.

In particular, reducing inflammation, which often has its origin in the gut, slows down the aging process.

Therefore, this study also states that intermittent fasting reduces age-related diseases and strengthens the intestinal wall .

Furthermore, intermittent fasting thereby has the positive side effect of improving intolerances.

Is Intermittent Fasting Good For Weight Loss

Yes, studies show that time-restricted eating patterns help cut down calories and lose weight faster. You burn energy even at rest when you are fasting. Further, intermittent fasting also boosts metabolism improving calorie burn. It may reduce body weight and body fat to 8% and 16%, respectively, in just 3 to 12 weeks.

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Intermittent Fasting May Preserve Muscle Mass That Is Usually Lost When Dieting

Most weight loss diets cause you to lose fat and muscle, which is a big problem.

Maintaining muscle is fundamental to ensure your metabolic rate doesnt drop and just to support a healthy weight loss .

Failing to do so means any fat loss will come back fast, such as what happens with every Biggest Loser contestant.

According to the authors of the review study mentioned above, fasting may be more useful than regular calorie restriction for many overweight patients because of greater loss of body fat, and better preservation of muscle .

Another study found that 25% of weight lost was muscle mass in normal calorie restriction diets, compared to just 10% lost in intermittent calorie restriction diets .

The current studies in this area are preliminary though, and the fact remains that weight training and a high protein diet are the most important aspects for building and maintaining muscle mass .

So if you do try intermittent fasting, ensure each of your meals contain a quality protein source like eggs, meat, fish or legumes.

Summary: Research suggests that intermittent fasting can help preserve muscle mass while you lose fat. This must be coupled with resistance exercise and a high protein intake though.

Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

STRENGTH FIGHTERâ¢: The Reality of Intermittent Fasting

There really are so many fasting benefits besides weight loss. People have been fasting for centuries for both health and religious reasons.

And theres actually scientific evidence behind these benefits. These are links to just some of the studies touting fastings health benefits.

1. Fat loss and weight loss! Most notably around your belly. This is probably why most people try intermittent fasting! Fasting increases your metabolic rate.

2. Fasting activates autophagy. Autophagy occurs when cells repair themselves. Autophagy is so important that a Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded in 2016 for the study of the mechanisms of this process.

3. Brain Health. Fasting may have important brain health benefits because it increases the growth of new neurons and can protect the brain from damage.

4. Reduction in Type 2 Diabetes because it helps lower your blood sugar levels thus reducing insulin resistance.

5. Reduction in Inflammation and cell damage in the body. This can protect against numerous diseases and can even slow the aging process.

6. Heart Health. Because fasting can improve risk factors for heart disease like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides.

7. Cancer prevention. There is evidence that fastings metabolic changes can lead to the reduced risk of cancer. It may also reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

8. Possible prevention of Alzheimers disease. Animal studies have shown that fasting can protect against diseases like Alzheimers.

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It May Lead To Improvement In Many Health Conditions

A 2020 study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed decades of previous research and found that intermittent fasting can lead to improvements in health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disordersResearch on intermittent fasting shows health benefits. National Institutes of Health. Accessed 6/21/2021. .

Youveadapted To The Fast

The body adapts to fasting by becoming more fat-adapted and stimulating certain pathways that promote stress adaptation and energy efficiency. Fasting can indirectly lead to the growth of new mitochondria by activating SIRT1, AMPK, and FOXO3. This increases the bodys energy efficiency, which is great for longevity and energy production, but it can also create mild metabolic adaptation because the body begins to need fewer calories.

It is true that if you do the same kind of intermittent fasting every day,it begins to cause less stress on the body. This is great because youllexperience less of the side effects like hunger and tiredness. However, it canalso create some metabolic adaptation.

To overcome the metabolic adaptation from fasting you have to change thesignal youre sending by either going for a longer fast or going back toeating more often for a while. This will reset your sensitivity to thestimulus.

The caveat is that if you go back to eating 3 or 5 times a day, you mayjust start to subconsciously over-eat calories. Some people also get used tolarger meals with IF and thus have to be more cautious with portion control andsatiety. Thats why I think going back to regular eating isnt the best optionfor most. Instead, you can still do time-restricted eating, just extend youreating window by a few hours first and see what happens. Then, having a 48-hourfast is also great for breaking plateaus.

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Intermittent Fasting: What Is It And Is It Safe

Intermittent fasting may seem like a recent trend, but actually, humans have periodically refrained from eating for millennia for a host of reasons: Believe it or not, physicians of yesteryear used to prescribe fasting to treat a host of ailments, while ancient philosophers pushed their plates away in attempts to boost their mental clarity. Fasting has also been a form of political protestthink: the hunger strikes of Mahatma Gandhi, Irish Republican prisoners in the 1980s, or British and American suffragettes in the early 1900s.

To this day, avoiding food is a regular part of many religions. Traditionally, Muslims forgo food and beverage during daylight throughout Ramadan Jews skip eating and drinking on Yom Kippur and Hindus and Buddhists fast weekly.

Now fasting is trickling into the secular spotlight due to media coverage that claims intermittent fasting not only leads to weight loss and boosts metabolism but that it may also curtail cancer risk and even extend lifespan.

But is intermittent fasting, a practice thats both ancient and newly trendy, as effective as some attest? Below, we take a closer look.

What is intermittent fasting? The ultimate guide

The theory is that this process may strengthen some cells ability to withstand additional stressors, which explains the potential link between IF and delayed aging as well as a reduced risk of cancer risk. But the benefits have yet to be proven.

Different types of intermittent fasting

16/8 fasting:

5:2 diet:

Why Did Intermittent Fasting Stop Working

Why Does Intermittent Fasting Work? | Fasting For Weight Loss

So why did I start overeating?

In short, its something called the binge-restrict cycle.

When intermittent fasting, we have to ignore our bodys hunger signals when they fall within our fasting window. Ignoring hunger signalsor rather, starving ourselves naturally leads to bingeing and obsessing over food.

Thats right: bingeing and obsessing over food. Its the eventual outcome of every attempt Ive made at restriction over the last 20 years.

(For more on my diet history, check out Finding Intuitive Eating After a Lifetime of Diets.

Oh, and It also slows your metabolism. Which is why when you restrict calories, you find that the amount of calories that helped you lose weight a year ago, is suddenly causing you to gain weight.

Which, naturally, leads to freak-out and further restricting. Followed by obsessing over food, and eventually bingeing and accompanying shame. And then you start over the cycle with freak-out and further restriction.

This, my friends, is the binge-restrict cycle. A hamster wheel I know intimately.

Unless youre miraculously free from diet culture, you probably also have some experience.

But I didnt know about this and whole lot of other research I would shortly dive into like Scrooge McDuck into his money.

But I eventually did find the research. And I realized that intermittent fasting is just another diet.

While I found it personally much less insidious than others out there , its still a diet wrapped up in a package of health and wellness

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How Often Should You Do 1: 8 Intermittent Fasting

Unlike other intermittent fasting diets, each day of the 16:8 works independently to the other days. This means that you can do anywhere from one day of intermittent 16:8 fasting to seven days a week, depending on your goals and the advice from your GP.

Evidence differs, however, on whether its healthy to do intermittent fasting all the time for a number of reasons. While one study suggests that fasting helps your vital organs by giving metabolic functions a break, other research suggests the fasting can lead to an increased level of cholesterol and can lead to feelings of nausea, along with causing spells of low-blood sugar and dehydration.

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