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Intermittent Fasting for Weightloss

All you need to know about intermittent fasting and science behind the weight loss through it - this article covers them in a nutshell for you.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a diet regimen that cycles between brief periods of fasting, with either no food or significant calorie reduction, and periods of unrestricted eating. It is promoted to change body composition through loss of fat mass and weight, and to improve markers of health that are associated with disease such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Its roots derive from traditional fasting, a universal ritual used for health or spiritual benefit as described in early texts by Socrates, Plato, and religious groups. Fasting typically entails a steady abstinence of food and beverages, ranging from 12 hours to one month. It may require complete abstinence, or allow a reduced amount of food and beverages.

Prolonged very low calorie diets can cause physiological changes that may cause the body to adapt to the calorie restriction and therefore prevent further weight loss. Intermittent fasting attempts to address this problem by cycling between a low calorie level for a brief time followed by normal eating, which may prevent these adaptations. However, research does not consistently show that intermittent fasting is superior to continuous low calorie diets for weight loss efficiency.

How It Works?

The most common methods are fasting on alternate days, for whole days with a specific frequency per week, or during a set time frame.

Alternate-day fasting—Alternating between days of no food restriction with days that consist of one meal that provides about 25% of daily calorie needs. Example: Mon-Wed-Fri consists of fasting, while alternate days have no food restrictions.

Whole-day fasting—1-2 days per week of complete fasting or up to 25% of daily calorie needs, with no food restriction on the other days. Example: The 5:2 diet approach advocates no food restriction five days of the week, cycled with a 400-500 calorie diet the other two days of the week.

Time-restricted feeding—Following a meal plan each day with a designated time frame for fasting. Example: Meals are eaten from 8am-3pm, with fasting during the remaining hours of the day.

Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It is a timed approach to eating. Unlike a dietary plan that restricts where calories come from, intermittent fasting does not specify what foods a person should eat or avoid. Intermittent fasting may have some health benefits, including weight loss, but is not suitable for everyone.

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. At first, people may find it difficult to eat during a short window of time each day or alternate between days of eating and not eating. This article offers tips on the best way to begin fasting, including identifying personal goals, planning meals, and establishing caloric needs.

Intermittent fasting is a popular method that people use to:

  • simplify their life
  • lose weight
  • Improve their overall health and well-being, such as minimizing the effects of aging

How to begin intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It is a timed approach to eating. Unlike a dietary plan that restricts where calories come from, intermittent fasting does not specify what foods a person should eat or avoid. Intermittent fasting may have some health benefits, including weight loss, but is not suitable for everyone.

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. At first, people may find it difficult to eat during a short window of time each day or alternate between days of eating and not eating. This article offers tips on the best way to begin fasting, including identifying personal goals, planning meals, and establishing caloric needs.

Though fasting is safe for most healthy, well-nourished people, it may not be appropriate for individuals who have any medical conditions. For those ready to start fasting, the following tips aim to help them make the experience as easy and successful as possible.

1. Identify personal goals

Typically, a person who starts intermittent fasting has a goal in mind. It may be to lose weight, improve overall health, or improve metabolic health. A person’s ultimate goal will help them determine the most suitable fasting method and work out how many calories and nutrients they need to consume.

2. Pick the method

There are four potential methods that a person may try when fasting for health reasons. A person should pick the plan that suits their preferences and which they think they can stick with.

These include:

  • Eat Stop Eat
  • Warrior Diet
  • Leangains
  • Alternate Day Fasting

Typically, a person should stick with one fasting method for a month or longer to see if it works for them before trying a different method. Anyone who has a medical condition should talk to their healthcare provider before beginning any fasting method.

When deciding on a method, a person should remember that they do not need to eat a certain amount or type of food or avoid foods altogether. A person can eat what they want. However, to reach health and weight loss goals, it is a good idea to follow a healthful, high-fiber, vegetable-rich diet during the eating periods.

Binging on unhealthful foods on eating days can hinder health progress. It is also extremely important to drink lots of water or other no-calorie beverages throughout the fast days.

Eat Stop Eat

Brad Pilon developed Eat Stop Eat, which is a fasting method that involves eating nothing for 24 hours twice a week. It does not matter what days a person fasts or even when they begin. The only restriction is fasting must last for 24 hours and on non-consecutive days.

People who do not eat for 24 hours will likely become very hungry. Eat Stop Eat may not be the best method for people who are unfamiliar with fasting to start with.

Warrior Diet

Ori Hofmekler is the creator of the Warrior Diet, which entails eating very little for 20 hours each day. A person fasting in this way consumes all their typical food intake in the remaining 4 hours.

Eating a whole day’s worth of food in such a short time can make a person’s stomach quite uncomfortable. This is the most extreme fasting method, and similarly to Eat Stop Eat, a person new to fasting may not want to start with this method.

Leangains

Martin Berkhan created Leangains for weightlifters, but it has gained popularity among other people who are interested in fasting. Unlike Eat Stop Eat and the Warrior Diet, fasting for Leangains involves much shorter periods.

For example, males who choose the Leangains method will fast for 16 hours and then eat what they want for the remaining 8 hours of the day. Females fast for 14 hours and eat what they want for the remaining 10 hours of the day.

During the fast, a person must avoid eating any food but can drink as many no-calorie beverages as they like.

Alternate Day Fasting, 5:2 method

Some people fast on alternate days to improve blood sugar, cholesterol and weight loss. A person on the 5:2 method eats 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days each week.

Some alternate-day fasting regimens add in a third day of fasting each week. For the rest of the week, a person eats only the number of calories they burn during the day. Over time, this creates a calorie deficit that allows the person to lose weight.

Resources on the Eat Stop Eat, Warrior and Leangains fasting methods are available to purchase online.

3. Figure out caloric needs

There are no dietary restrictions when fasting, but this does not mean calories do not count.

People who are looking to lose weight need to create a calorie deficit for themselves — this means that they consume less energy than they use. People who are looking to gain weight need to consume more calories than they use.

There are many tools available to help a person work out their caloric needs and determine how many calories they need to consume each day to either gain or lose weight. A person could also speak to their healthcare provider or dietitian for guidance on how many calories they need.

The Research So Far

Physiologically, calorie restriction has been shown in animals to increase lifespan and improve tolerance to various metabolic stresses in the body. Although the evidence for caloric restriction in animal studies is strong, there is less convincing evidence in human studies. Proponents of the diet believe that the stress of intermittent fasting causes an immune response that repairs cells and produces positive metabolic changes (reduction in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, fat mass, blood glucose). An understandable concern of this diet is that followers will overeat on non-fasting days to compensate for calories lost during fasting. However, studies have not shown this to be true when compared with other weight loss methods.

References

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/intermittent-fasting/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324882#pick-the-method

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