Hello, dear readers! Today I want to talk about intermittent fasting for weight loss. There are different opinions on the issue and people claim that periodic starvation has helped them lose weight. In a sense, it is possible, but how does it work, and does it help you to lose weight? You will find the answers to these and other questions in the following lines.
What is intermittent fasting for weight loss?
Intermittent fasting has been practiced by many cultures over the centuries for religious purposes. Our body is made to withstand hours, even days without food. In the past, people did not have modern conveniences and had to starve for days until they found food. Today we can buy food everywhere and we don’t have to starve ourselves.
Unlike other diets, intermittent fasting is not based on what foods to eat, but on when you eat. It represents different eating and fasting schedules for a certain period of time. There are various methods of implementing intermittent fasting, such as the 16: 8 or 5:2-method. The periods are different, but the goal is the same, namely the period in which we starve and the period in which we eat.
We all know that when we do not eat, our body burns energy reserves in the form of glycogen in the muscles and liver. After depleting these stores, it begins to burn subcutaneous fat to gain energy. This is precisely the mechanism of intermittent fasting. The goal is to burn fat during periods when we are not eating. The idea is to extend the period in which our body burns fat for as long as possible, which means not eating for as long as possible.
Is intermittent fasting for weight loss any good?
Intermittent fasting helps when we try to lose weight, by reducing the calories we eat for the day. When we consume fewer calories than we burn, then we lose weight. There is no evidence that intermittent fasting can boost metabolism or we can lose weight just because of it.
A 2021 study by a team of physiotherapists at the University of Bath in England showed that intermittent fasting was nothing special. The participants were divided into three groups. The first two groups had reduced caloric intake from their normal until the study, and the third group had unchanged caloric intake. All participants were overweight.
The participants from the three groups were subjected to intermittent fasting during the day. Only people who were low in calories (group 1 and group 2) lost weight. The first two groups lost between 1.5 and 2 kg. for a period of three weeks. The third group of people was not calorie deficient, which did not allow their bodies to burn fat during the fasting period and therefore did not lose weight.
Given this study and other materials on intermittent fasting, we can judge that in itself it does not help to lose weight. If we combine it with a calorie deficit in the periods in which we eat, then we can lose weight.
It is good to keep in mind that some people do not like to have breakfast. Others are more energetic in the hours when they have not eaten. Intermittent fasting can help you be more active in the morning or during the day. If you feel good and this method of eating is convenient for you, you can implement it in your daily life. However, if you want to lose weight, you will also need a calorie deficit.
Intermittent fasting can have many health benefits.
- Improving physical performance – studies on men who starved by the 16:8-method showed fat burning without loss of muscle tissue and improved endurance and energy.
- Prevents heart problems – it has been proven, although only on animals, that intermittent fasting helps prevent heart problems by lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammatory markers.
- Decreased insulin levels – Insulin levels in the blood drop, when we fast, which helps burn fat. When we eat, our body releases insulin, which helps us absorb carbohydrates. When we do not eat, insulin is not needed and our pancreas does not synthesize it. Separately, intermittent fasting may reduce insulin resistance, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Increased levels of growth hormone – a controlled study found that during fasting our body produces up to five times more growth hormone. High levels of this hormone help us burn fat faster. Recent research claims these beliefs to be wrong, but more information is needed to prove this claim.
- Increased levels of norepinephrine – the nervous system uses this hormone to signal cells to begin breaking down fat into free fatty acids, which can later be used for energy.
How is intermittent fasting for weight loss done?
There are many methods for intermittent fasting. In practice, if there are systematic periods of fasting and eating during the day or week, we do intermittent fasting. I will introduce you to two of the most popular methods.
This method is very popular for weight loss. It is 16 hours during which we do not eat and 8 hours during which we eat. Its popularity is due to the fact that it is quite convenient. No foods are excluded and can be adjusted according to a person’s needs. You can fast during the day, for example from 6:00 to 22:00, or at night, for example from 18:00 to 10:00.
Reducing the amount of time we eat can help us consume less food and lose weight. However, if during these 8 hours a day we eat more food than we burn, this method will not help us lose weight.
For training men, this method of eating can help burn fat without losing muscle mass. For women who train, it is noticed that they do not increase muscle mass and strength.
It is advisable to avoid unhealthy foods and alcohol during intermittent fasting.
This way of fasting is not for everyone. It is five days a week in which we eat normally and two days in which we consume a quarter of our daily caloric intake. For example, if we normally consume 2,000 calories a day in those two days, we should eat 500 calories. The good thing about this method is that we can choose the days on which to starve, which makes it quite convenient.
Several studies have shown that this method of periodic fasting for weight loss can be as effective as eating a calorie-deficient diet for weight loss. It can help prevent metabolic problems and diabetes.
This method can be quite difficult to perform because it is not easy to withstand so few calories in two days. Some people may have problems with energy and mood. Consult your doctor before eating this method.
Personal professional opinion about this method.
I think that intermittent fasting for weight loss alone is not effective enough. I can recommend it for people who want to take advantage of the health benefits that this method provides. Also, if a person’s lifestyle does not allow eating during normal hours during the day, or makes it difficult and intermittent fasting is convenient.
I have also had clients who feel more energetic in the morning on an empty stomach. For them, I would also recommend the 16:8-method, in which the last meal of the day is before 18:00 and they do not eat until 10:00 the next day.
However, this method of eating should always be accompanied by a calorie deficit in order to lose weight!
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