Globally, Intermittent fasting is a popular health and fitness trend in the modern age.
In light of this, it brings up the questions of what exactly happens when we fast, how is Intermittent Fasting believed to facilitate weight reduction, and what does a typical Intermittent Fasting regimen include?
So today, we’ll break down:
- What is Intermittent Fasting
- Intermittent fasting and weight loss
- Intermittent fasting precautions
What is Intermittent Fasting
Importantly, please speak with your GP before starting intermittent fasting.
In a nutshell, Intermittent Fasting is said to help weight loss by bringing down insulin levels, enhancing growth hormone levels and elevating the secretion of Norepinephrine, a hormone that helps burn fat. At the same time, it’s proposed to stimulate cellular reconstruction and gene expression.
Several methods of Intermittent Fasting exist. Each may be beneficial but deciding which one is most suitable depends on the individual
In this blog post, we’ll touch on two of these methods.
Firstly, let’s discuss the most undertaken way of the dietary regimen that makes use of a window of eating alongside a window of fasting daily.
But ensure to be in a caloric deficit daily with any intermittent fasting method. It does not mean that you can just eat anything you want as you still need to limit your calories to lose the unwanted fat!
This way utilises 16 hours of fasting with 8 hours of eating daily, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Water and coffee are allowed during the fasting periods.
Furthermore, an alternative method of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet.
This involves regular food consumption five days of the week while limiting your calorie intake to 600 on two days of the week, hence the 5:2 diet.
For instance, you might eat like you normally would every day of the week except Wednesdays and Saturdays, where you would eat two small meals of 300 calories each day.
Intermittent fasting and weight loss
The first reason intermittent fasting is good for weight loss is that the associated reduced time period allowed for food provides a better likelihood to keep within a caloric deficit daily (fewer calories than we consume daily).
Its essential to ensure sufficient levels of protein and fibre during that eating window to reduce craving later in the day brought about by fasting.
Remember, intermittent fasting is not a free pass to intake significant quantities of calories.
At the same time, its important to include nutrient-rich foods containing a wide range of micronutrients during the eating window for us to stay in a good state of health.
Now that we know what intermittent fasting is and how it may help weight loss, what does the science say regarding the diet?
Well, a systematic review of intermittent fasting’s effects for weight loss found that intermittent fasting was indeed effective for short term weight loss (Ganesan, Habboush, & Sultan, 2018). However, it was advised by the researchers that long-term trials are needed to follow the maintenance of weight loss from the diet because, remember, successful weight management is not just about losing the weight, but also keeping it off!
Yet, another study suggests that the diet may not be better than other diets that create caloric deficits day by day. Cioffi et al. (2018) meta-analysis found similar weight loss rates between intermittent fasting and other popular diets. In support of the previous systematic review, these authors also suggested that further long-term trials investigating intermittent fasting are required.
So, even though Intermittent fasting could potentially assist fat burn in the short term, there’s scarce literature available which has examined the long-term success from it. In addition, a lot of the benefits can already be obtained by a traditional diet alone. For instance, by adhering to the everything in moderation rule, we can already stay within the calorie limit needed to shed the fat.
Intermittent fasting precautions
Be aware that Intermittent Fasting is not suitable for everyone, especially those with diabetes, hormonal imbalances, of older age, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Moreover, people with eating disorders and underweight people are also not advised to undertake the diet (Malinowski et al., 2019).
Side effects may also arise due to fasting, such as trouble sleeping, constipation and irritability.
In sum, intermittent fasting may be helpful for weight loss short-term.
However, it has not been proven to be a practical approach for long-term weight loss and may not be suitable for many for the potential consequences explained.
Again, before undertaking any new diet, we strongly advise you to speak to your GP first, especially Intermittent Fasting.
Cioffi, I., Evangelista, A., Ponzo, V., Ciccone, G., Soldati, L., Santarpia, L., Contaldo, F., Pasanisi, F., Ghigo, E., & Bo, S. (2018). Intermittent versus continuous energy restriction on weight loss and cardiometabolic outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Translational Medicine, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-018-1748-4
Ganesan, K., Habboush, Y., & Sultan, S. (2018). Intermittent Fasting: The Choice for a Healthier Lifestyle. Cureus. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.2947
Malinowski, B., Zalewska, K., Węsierska, A., Sokołowska, M. M., Socha, M., Liczner, G., Pawlak-Osińska, K., & Wiciński, M. (2019). Intermittent Fasting in Cardiovascular Disorders-An Overview. Nutrients, 11(3), 673. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11030673