Let’s first start by explaining what Intermittent Fasting is, How to Do It, and then look into its Effectiveness for Achieving Sustainable Weight Loss.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Well, it’s not a “diet” per se, but rather an eating pattern widespread in the health and fitness industry these days for weight loss and many other health benefits.
Essentially, an individual will cycle between periods of fasting and eating with the most common being the 16:8 method (16 hour fast: 8 hour eating window).
How To Practice Intermittent Fasting
There are several different ways to go about this:
The 16/8 method: As mentioned earlier, this eating pattern involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily food consumption to an 8 hour window. The remaining 16 hours should remain fasted (water/tea/coffee/non caloric beverages allowed).
Eat-Stop-Eat: You fast for 24 hours, once or twice a week. For example, after you finish dinner, you won’t eat again until dinnertime the next day. You can do this for breakfast or lunch as well! However, this is difficult for many people so you can start with 14-16 hours, and then work your way up to a 24 hour fast.
The 5:2 diet: You consume only 500–600 calories (should be 25% of your daily caloric needs) on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally for the rest of the week.
The Warrior Diet: Fast During the Day, Huge Meal at Night (20:4)
Ideally, you should fast all day but you are allowed small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables if you’re too hungry. This was one of the first popular IF methods where people would fast until night time and then allowed a huge meal within a 4 hour period.
Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
IF has proven to have many health benefits such as reducing cancer risk, cardiovascular disease, and improving cholesterol levels. However, for the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on the weight loss aspect as many who adopt this lifestyle typically has weight loss as their primary goal.
What happens to your body when you don’t eat for a while…
- Human Growth Hormone: The blood levels of the growth hormone increases and higher levels of this hormone facilities fat burning and muscle gain
- Insulin Levels: Blood levels of insulin significantly drops which also facilitates fat burning
- Cellular Repair: The body begins to remove waste material from its cells
Essentially, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3.6 – 14%, which helps you burn even more calories. So you’re actually working on both sides of the calorie equation (calories in vs. calories out). If you follow the IF eating pattern correctly, you should be burning more calories, while consuming less calories by skipping meals.
Sounds easy right? Well, here is where you need to be cautious!
Just because you have a shorter window of time to eat things and have a better metabolic rate, doesn’t mean you should go balls to the walls and stuff your face! Even with the Warrior Diet, that 1 meal at night should not be full of high caloric junk! You can actually be eating over your calorie allowance and gain weight if you overeat during the allowed eating time.
The only way that this diet can be effective for weight loss is if you consume the same amount of food during the eating window as if you hadn’t been fasting at all. Furthermore, your diet should still consist of mainly healthy foods because aside from our weight loss goals, we still want to nourish your body with nutrient-dense whole foods.
So does it really work?
Well, there has been a lot evidence-based research proving IF’s effectiveness on weight loss. In a 2014 review, individuals reported to have lost between 3-8% of their weight over a period of 3-24 weeks and 4-7% of their waist circumference. This is crucial as this area of belly fat is the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that is often a predictor for many diseases such as cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. It’s even more effective for those individuals on a keto diet as the periods of fasting will enhance your state of ketosis (fat-burning state) even more!
Don’t know what the keto diet is? Click our other recent post to read all about it!
To be honest, IF isn’t for everyone as some people’s schedule doesn’t allow such strict eating patterns to be formed. But don’t worry, IF isn’t the only way for an individual to lose weight. It’s basically a popular tool that many people have adopted recently because it has proven to yield great results for individuals with this lifestyle.
Calories and the quality of food still matter! The mindset should not be to starve yourself for the day only to binge on all the junk foods possible in that eating window. You can certainly gain weight intermittent fasting if you are consuming more calories than your body needs.
During the fasting period, if you really feel hungry, you are allowed non-caloric drinks such as water, tea, and coffee to try and hold you over. You can also supplement with exogenous ketones because these won’t kick you out of the fasting state.
Read more about exogenous ketones here!
All of these products are available here at Foodcraft. If you are ready to start your IF journey today, don't forget to stock up on some of our teas and coffees to help you during those first few days where fasting may be more difficult! Click now to shop!
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