Intermittent Fasting: Does intermittent fasting really work for weight loss?

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As many of us know, it’s hard to find the time and motivation to exercise. That is why there are so many different types of exercises that can be done in short periods of time. Intermittent fasting is one such type where the person eats normally for certain hours during the day and then fasts for a period of time (usually 16 hours). This type has been shown to promote weight loss in studies on animals but not humans.

The goal here will be to summarize what intermittent fasting does, how it works, if it actually promotes weight loss in humans, any possible side effects with Intermittent Fasting and what kind of diet might work best for this form of eating pattern.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for various diet plans that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting.  The most common one is the 16/8 protocol, where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8 hour window. There are other shorter fasting periods that may range from 4 or even 2 hours. This type of intermittent fasting does not mean starving yourself; instead, it’s about eating more of what you want and finding the diet that works best for you!

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How does intermittent fasting work?

Intermittent Fasting has been shown to promote weight loss in studies on animals but not humans.  One explanation might be that calorie intake in most trials is not restricted and the amount of time fasting is usually small (e.g., only a 16 hour fast, which does not make sense for humans).  It’s important to note that many animal studies show great results with Intermittent Fasting, but it may be because they are on a caloric-restricted diet.  It could be that fasting itself promotes weight loss, but calorie restriction does as well.

If you are trying to lose weight, intermittent fasting may work for you! Here’s how it works:  you fast intermittently or reduce your food intake to a few hours each day, which allows your body to go into a fasting mode.

Does intermittent fasting really work for weight loss?

The goal here will be to summarize what intermittent fasting does, how it works, if it actually promotes weight loss in humans, any possible side effects with IF and what kind of diet might work best for this form of eating pattern.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to promote weight loss in studies on animals but not humans.  This means that it could be a great option for those who are looking to lose weight and feel more energetic! As with any diet, intermittent fasting is not appropriate for everyone. For example, pregnant women should certainly not try intermittent fasting for weight loss.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting has been shown to promote weight loss in studies on animals but not humans.  One explanation might be that calorie intake in most trials is not restricted and the amount of time fasting is usually small (e.g., only a 16 hour fast, which does not make fasting a lifestyle).

In addition to weight loss, many people find intermittent fasting rather easy to do because they have a harder time restricting their daytime eating so severely.  Since it’s easier to control, many also enjoy the freedom of not having to count calories.

Possible side effects of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting could have a negative effect on your sleep cycle because fasting causes the release of cortisol, a hormone that can cause stress and insomnia. In order to avoid this, try to eat in an 8 hour window instead of completely fasting for 16 hours.

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Don’t overdo intermittent fasting If you are going to do intermittent fasting, make sure you do it safely.  If you are eating only in an 8 hour window, try to stick to about 500-600 calories instead of going overboard on your calorie intake. This makes intermittent fasting a great option for those who want to maintain their weight but feel better from intermittent fasting.

Intermittent Fasting with a Mediterranean Diet

If you are going to do intermittent fasting, make sure you do it safely.  Intermittent fasting is not for everyone and anyone who wishes to try this lifestyle change should make sure they don’t eat too little or too much; instead, they should maintain a healthy diet while doing Intermittent Fasting. One great way of doing intermittent fasting is pairing it with a Mediterranean diet.  

A study on the combination of intermittent fasting and a Mediterranean diet showed that both had many benefits including weight loss, improvement in heart health and improvements in blood sugar levels.   When you do this, make sure you eat nutrient dense foods like whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits while also maintaining a healthy fat intake.  This combination has many health benefits and is one of the best diets for weight loss!

Here are some tips on how to make the intermittent fasting lifestyle work for you!

  • Make sure that if you are eating within an 8 hour window that you are not snacking constantly outside of it!  We often think we’re hungry and start munching away but we might just be dehydrated or bored.
  • Don’t go too long without eating during the fasting window (i.e., don’t fast until 2 pm and then eat dinner at 8 pm). This will be very difficult psychologically and most people won’t be able to do it!
  • Try not to break your fast with a huge meal-stick to lighter meals like salads and fruits.
  • Make sure that if you’re not fasting, you’re still getting all the nutrients that your body needs (i.e., don’t eat junk food or fast for 16 hours then binge).
  • Regardless of what kind of fasting protocol you choose to do, make sure it’s a lifestyle change! Don’t just try it for a week and then give up.
  • To be clear, intermittent fasting has not been studied much in humans so its long-term effectiveness is unknown.  In addition, many people who do IF eat too much on their feeding days (i.e., the 8 hour eating window) and this contributes to weight gain as well.
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What can you eat?

It’s not about starving yourself; instead, it’s about eating more of what you want and finding the diet that works best for you!

You’re not restricted to eating just salads.  Of course, it’s best to avoid sugary foods and refined carbs, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t have them in moderation . Also, all vegetables are great when it comes to making your fast more enjoyable.

You are only supposed to eat within a certain window of time, so if you want something in the morning, go for it!  Just try not to overdo it, because eating too much will mean that you won’t have enough room for dinner.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting has been shown to lead to weight loss in some studies on animals, while other studies found no significant benefits.  In addition, many people experience a decrease in LDL cholesterol levels while following an intermittent fasting protocol.

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In addition to weight loss, many people find intermittent fasting rather easy to do because they have a harder time restricting their daytime eating so severely.  Many agree that it can increase energy levels as well, but this is likely the result of reduced calorie intake rather than anything related to fasting itself.

Different types of intermittent fasting protocols

The 16/8 protocol

In the 16/8 protocol, you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8 hour window (e.g., 1 pm to 9 pm).  This form of fasting has been shown to promote weight loss and fat loss in studies on humans as well as animals.

The 5/2 protocol

In the 5/2 protocol, you eat normally 5 days a week and restrict calories to 500-600 on the other two days. This form of fasting has been shown to promote weight loss in studies on humans as well as animals.

The Eat-Stop-Eat Protocol

In the eat-stop-eat protocol, you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week. Studies show that this style of intermittent fasting promotes weight loss and fat loss in humans as well as animals.  You can do this by skipping breakfast and eating dinner the next day (i.e., lunch) or by eating dinner one night and then not eating until the following evening (24 hours later).

In the alternate day fasting protocol, you fast every other day.  This can mean that you eat normally for 24 hours and then don’t eat at all for 24 hours (e.g., you eat dinner on Monday night and don’t eat again until Tuesday evening).  Studies show that this style of intermittent fasting promotes weight loss in humans as well as animals.

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The warrior diet is similar to the 16/8 protocol but with one additional meal (i.e., you can have two dinners) .  

Intermittent fasting has been shown to promote weight loss in studies on animals but not humans.  One explanation might be that calorie intake in most trials is not restricted and the amount of time fasting is usually small (e.g., only a 16 hour fast, which does not free much time for eating).  In addition, most people might find it very difficult to fast every day.

It is important to note that the 5/2 protocol has been shown to promote weight loss in humans, but many people find it rather difficult to restrict their calories so severely on two days of the week.  All types of intermittent fasting promote hunger suppression and weight loss but may be difficult to adhere to without experiencing negative side effects.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article helped you to learn more about intermittent fasting and whether or not it actually works for weight loss.  Intermittent fasting might be a great option if you want to lose some weight and improve some biomarkers of disease.  However, it can be hard to stick with in the long-term for many people because most protocols require you to fast every day.  In addition, fasting might make your life a bit more difficult by requiring you to eat fewer meals per day.

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