Intermittent fasting involves reducing daily food consumption into one time-restricted period followed by a fasting period for the rest of the day. Recently, intermittent fasting has gained popularity as a miraculous weight-loss approach.
However, a new study has found that this eating plan is no more successful than traditional diets in shedding pounds.
Despite its current fame, the study has concluded that it is not a more effective way to lose weight than other methods. Let’s dig deeper to understand the real effect of intermittent fasting on weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting – An Overview
Intermittent fasting is a popular eating technique that limits calorie consumption at certain times or for specific days of the week. An intermittent fasting plan doesn’t specify exact foods that you need to eat, but when you ought to eat them.
This dieting method works by extending the period between when the body burns off the calories from the last meal and starts to burn fat.
Read more: Intermittent Fasting – Diet Plan, Benefits, & Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting helps reduce hunger by slowing down the body’s metabolism. There are many ways to do intermittent fasting, such as eating for eight hours a day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours, or eating just one meal a day, two days out of the week.
Water is allowed during the fasting periods. However, it is essential to note that ‘eating normally’ during the eating periods does not mean overeating.
Eating high-calorie junk food, fried foods, and desserts will not provide the desired benefits of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss
Many people turn to intermittent fasting to lose weight. Intermittent fasting, as stated above, involves eating fewer meals, thus consuming fewer calories. However, you can compensate for this by eating consciously during the non-fasting periods.
Intermittent fasting also has other benefits, such as improving hormone function, which helps with weight loss. It is due to reduced insulin levels, increased Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels, and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) levels.
These help the body use fat for energy. In addition, some researchers believe that short-term fasting can boost your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories than you would normally. All in all, intermittent fasting can help to increase your metabolism while reducing the amount of food you eat.
How Does it Work?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that helps people lose weight through fat loss. It involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. Unlike other diets, intermittent fasting focuses on when to eat, not what to eat.
For example, a popular fasting protocol is the 16/8 pattern; here, you have to fast for 16 hours and then eat during an 8-hour window, such as from 8 am to 4 pm.
Another popular fasting protocol is the 5:2 pattern; this involves eating a healthy balanced meal five days a week and reducing caloric intake for two days.
Read more: The Beginner’s Guide to 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet
Intermittent fasting is a popular diet, but it is not suitable for everyone. Fasting for lengthy periods can benefit weight loss but also have adverse side effects.
One potential disadvantage of intermittent fasting is that it can lead to nutritional deficiencies if meals get skipped. Therefore, people with certain conditions should not attempt this diet.
These include those with sleeping problems, eating disorders, digestive issues, type 1 diabetes and are taking medications, especially insulin, pregnant or breastfeeding, cancer or a weak immune system, should take medication post meal.
Achieving sustainable and healthy weight loss hinges upon finding a diet program that works for you. You will not continue the diet if it’s not practical and doable. Willpower can help you get results quickly, but there are more sustainable options for the long term.
Intermittent fasting can be a successful part of your weight loss plan. Still, it must fit into your lifestyle for it to be successful. If you aren’t a fan of intermittent fasting, there are other diet plans for you as well. Here is a comparative guide between intermittent fasting and other diets to help you choose the best-suited one.
It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to weight loss. We all have different needs, so finding a plan that works for you is vital.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Improves Lipid Profile
If combined with endurance exercise, intermittent fasting can effectively reduce total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is known as “bad” cholesterol, which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and other heart-related complications.
In addition, by decreasing the number of triglycerides in the bloodstream, intermittent fasting can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular-related issues.
Studies suggest that intermittent fasting may confer cardiac protection even after a cardiovascular event. Furthermore, intermittent fasting positively impacts multiple cardiovascular risk factors including obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes.
Reduces Insulin Resistance
Type 2 diabetes is a widespread condition characterised by high blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance. Therefore, any methods to reduce insulin resistance should help to lower blood sugar levels.
Studies have found that intermittent fasting positively affects insulin resistance and can significantly reduce blood sugar levels.
Read more: The Insulin Resistance Diet: A Healthy Eating Habit
Attributing to minor energy shortages, intermittent fasting decreases adiposity, mainly visceral and truncal fat. In addition, people’s leptin/adiponectin levels increase due to better appetite management and reduced levels of chronic inflammation, lowering multiple risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Blood Pressure Management
Studies indicate that Intermittent fasting can help reduce hypertension or high blood pressure by changing the gut microbiota.
In addition, variations in bile acid metabolism also play a role in regulating blood pressure, and intermittent fasting increases the amount of bile acid in circulation, thus decreasing blood pressure.
Intermittent fasting can potentially benefit many health indicators. Studies have uncovered that this eating pattern can control inflammation in our bodies.
Intermittent fasting is beneficial in increasing galectin-3, a protein related to inflammation. Furthermore, when the body is fasting, the glycogen reserves get nearly depleted, which is a useful means of reducing inflammation.
Improves Brain Health
When you fast, BDNF hormones increase in the brain. This promotes the growth of new neurons and also provides protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies show that intermittent fasting increases neuroplasticity in the brain. It optimizes brain functions and increases its resistance to injuries.
Gaps between eating boost metabolism, inducing our bodies to break down nutrients and burn calories more efficiently. It also affects DNA repair positively and slows down its degradation thus working as an anti-ageing tool.
Research indicates that intermittent fasting also increases the levels of antioxidants that fight against the free radicals which cause cell damage and lead to various health issues and skin conditions linked to ageing.
Intermittent Fasting – Word of Caution
Many people adopt intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight. Others use it to treat chronic illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, or arthritis. However, intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone.
If you are considering intermittent fasting, you must first consult your doctor. As aforementioned, persons under 18, pregnant or lactating women, diabetics, and those with a history of eating disorders should avoid experimenting with intermittent fasting.
The HealthifyMe Note
If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting to lose weight, you must speak to your doctor or a nutritionist first. Intermittent fasting is a popular weight-loss method that involves fasting for some time each day or on certain days of the week. But, again, it’s essential to get advice from a professional to determine if this method suits you and to find out which approach might work best for your individual needs and goals.
Lose Weight like a Pro – The HealthifyMe Way
HealthifyMe helps you to change the way you perceive your health. Health is not about weight loss only but rather an overall sense of wellbeing.. It’s about a holistic approach to wellness that involves mental and physical fitness as an indispensable unit.
When one takes an extreme step like not eating for hours and several combinations like no-carb intermittent or gluten and dairy-free intermittent fasting, it may affect their mental and physical health. Understanding which food combinations are good for you, in the long run, is essential.
Weight management in the right way can happen when the body responds positively to food intake. Therefore, a healthy plating method is imperative for sustainable weight loss. Talking to the nutritionists at HealthifyMe, will help you know the foods and the timings that are ideal for your condition.
Also, long hours of fasting or too frequent eating are two extremes of the spectrum. In both cases, the blood glucose levels may experience spikes. If the spikes are persistent, it may be a syndrome precursor to metabolic distress.
It is here when technologies like CGM can be used to their best. CGM or Continuous Glucose Monitor is a small and powerful health-tech device that helps you track glucose levels real time. This helps you decide which foods to consume and when to burn your calories.So it nudges you to make the right choices that stabilise your blood glucose levels.
The CGM incorporated with the new HealthifyPro helps you get a consistent and holistic understanding of your health. It syncs with your phone and gives you concurrent data about your blood sugar levels.
Your Pro coach can then review how your glucose changes with respect to your unique diet, exercise, medication and overall lifestyle, and help you create a fitness plan customised to you.
HealthifyPro is a complete package that comes with a Smart Scale to keep a tab 11+ body metrics, Metabolic Panel to keep a check on your metabolic health, Pro coaches to give your personalised feedback and smart AI assistance along with the advanced CGM experience at your fingertips.
So whether you eat frequently or follow fasting as a way of life, you learn to manage your food and activity choices effectively. As a result, you are fitter and healthier able to better manage your weight.
Sample Intermittent Diet Plan To Lose Weight – 5:2 Diet Plan
The 5:2 diet calls for eating normally five days a week and fasting two days per week. There is no meal timing strategy to allow dietary freedom for its followers. There are different ways to interpret the 5:2 diet. For example, some people fast on two consecutive days each week.
A sample 5:2 diet looks like this;
DayEating PlanMondayFastTuesdayFastWednesday3 main meals, 2 snacksThursday3 main meals, 2 snacksFriday3 main meals, 2 snacksSaturday3 main meals, 2 snacksSunday3 main meals, 2 snacks
Fast Day Plan 1
MealItemCaloriesBreakfastBanana and low-fat yoghurt177DinnerEdamame & tofu salad300Snack10g of popcorn59Total536
Fast Day Plan 2
MealItemCaloriesBreakfastOats porridge (40g)255DinnerBeetroot and spinach salad125SnackSliced apple with 1 tbsp of nut butter145Total525
When it comes to weight loss, the best diet plan is one that is both balanced and tailored to your specific lifestyle, age, and habits. It is the key to achieving sustainable, healthy results.
Low-carb diets, calorie restriction, and other options have different results depending on the individual. When choosing a diet plan, it is essential to remember that what works for someone else may not work for you. Thus, it’s always important to consult a professional to make sure your health is not compromised to achieve a certain goal.
Effects of intermittent and continuous calorie restriction on body weight and metabolism over 50 wk: a randomized controlled trial – https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/108/5/933/5201451?login=falseMetabolic Effect Of Intermittent Fasting – https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634Intermittent Fasting: A Heart Healthy Dietary Pattern? – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7415631/ Intermittent fasting: is there a role in the treatment of diabetes? – https://clindiabetesendo.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40842-020-00116-1The effect of intermittent fasting on blood pressure variability in patients with newly diagnosed hypertension or prehypertension – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29275920/Dietary Intake Regulates The Circulating Inflammatory Monocyte Protocol – https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(19)30850-5Galectin-3 as a novel biomarker for disease diagnosis and a target for therapy – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5752178/Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implications – https://bit.ly/3C2OmNwIntermittent metabolic switching, neuroplasticity and brain health – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29321682/ Anti-ageing effects of intermittent fasting: a potential alternative to calorie restriction? – https://bit.ly/3GlWSKr
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How soon will I see results from intermittent fasting?
A: It takes approximately ten days to notice a difference in body structure following intermittent fasting. However, it may take roughly 2 to 10 weeks to lose significant weight.
Can you exercise while intermittent fasting?
A: Yes. Exercising during fasting has various benefits. It stimulates fat oxidation leading to increased fat utilization and weight loss. However, it’s necessary to consider essential factors like the timing of the workout, nutrient adjustment according to the kind of workout, and the physical response of your body to exercise. If you feel dizzy and get exhausted easily, it is advisable to go for light workouts for a short duration like yoga and low-intensity workouts. With heavy exercise, timings and balanced nutrition are extremely important. Thus, expert supervision and guidance play a crucial role.
How much water should I drink during intermittent fasting?
A: Staying hydrated is one of the most important rules of intermittent fasting. Water consumption for females during intermittent fasting should be 2.5 litres and 3 litres for men.
Does sleeping count as fasting?
A: Yes, the hours one spends sleeping are included in fasting.
Are 12 hours enough for intermittent fasting?
Yes, there are various methods for intermittent fasting like the 16-8 diet, 5:2 diet and 12:12 diet. The 12:12 method includes 12 hours of fasting followed by 12 hours of eating and so on. The 12-hour fasting period is suitable for beginners as it gives the body time to adjust to the new routine with ease.
What are the rules for intermittent fasting?
To experience the maximum benefits of this diet, you must avoid binging on unhealthy or junk food during the eating periods. Intermittent fasting is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or trying to have a baby. If you experience adverse effects while fasting or have concerns about this regimen, it’s best to consult a health expert before you start.
How long should intermittent fasting be?
There are various methods for intermittent fasting like 5:2, 16-18, 12:12 etc. In the 16-8 method, also called the Leangains protocol, one restricts their eating period to eight hours and fasts for the remaining 16. In the 5:2 diet method, you normally eat for five days and restrict your calorie intake to 500 to 600 calories on two non-successive days in the week. In the 12:12 diet, you eat for 12 hours and fast for the remaining 12 of the day. There’s another method where you will fast for 24 hours, either once or twice a week. Then eat regularly on non-fasting days. One may choose a diet plan based on their health and preference.
How much weight can you lose with intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting leads to a reduction in caloric intake which directly affects hormone and insulin levels aiding weight loss. According to a 2014 study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, intermittent fasting caused up to 8% of weight loss over a 24-week period. This same study found that people following intermittent fasting were able to lose up to 7% of waist and belly fat.
What happens when you stop intermittent fasting?
The symptoms differ from person to person on stopping Intermittent fasting. Some might experience bloating, fatigue, hunger pangs or even an overindulgence in high-sugar products which might lead to skin issues, however, other individuals might suffer no withdrawal symptoms at all.
Which foods should be avoided during intermittent fasting?
Junk, processed and convenience foods and products high in sugar and sodium should be avoided during intermittent fasting.
Is intermittent fasting the best diet to lose weight?
The findings imply that intermittent fasting is no more successful than calorie restriction in terms of weight loss and is likely less effective in terms of body fat reduction. However, physical exercise, in addition to an intermittent fasting diet, can help people lose weight faster.
What are the basic rules of intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a form of eating pattern where periods of eating and fasting are alternated according to a well-designed procedure. This fasting is to avoid any form of food or beverages containing calories strictly. One should eat a balanced, wholesome diet during the eating period and avoid unhealthy food. The most appropriate intermittent fasting method should be chosen and exactly followed. A few other basic rules of this form of fasting include:
Staying hydratedAvoiding sweetenersAvoiding late-night eatingKeeping a tab on day-to-day activities