Intermittent fasting, sometimes called time-restricted eating, is an eating pattern where you eat during a set window of the day and choose not to eat food for the remaining hours.
It has been shown to have many health benefits including weight loss, increased energy levels, reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Our focus here is using intermittent fasting to lose weight.
Now, there are several methods of intermittent fasting.
We’ll go into detail about each of these methods as well as recommendations for when you are considering trying intermittent fasting.
Why Try Intermittent Fasting?
- First, it can help you eat less overall because you’re eating all your food within a shorter time frame.
- Second, it can help you burn more calories. When you’re in a fasted state, your body is using more energy from stored fat than it would if you were eating regularly.
- Finally, intermittent fasting can help you become more disciplined with your food choices and eat fewer unhealthy foods.
Here are 4 different intermittent fasting methods:
Popular Intermittent Fasting Diets
The 5:2 Diet
- The 5:2 Diet is a type of intermittent fasting that involves regular, yet relatively shorter fasts.
- This diet involves eating whatever you want five days a week and then for two consecutive days, limiting your calorie intake to 500 (for women) or 600 (for men).
- The first meal of the day is replaced by a small low-calorie snack, usually at dinner time.
- One example would be having tuna on rye toast for lunch and then plain grilled chicken with salad for dinner.
- You can drink as much water, tea, and black coffee as you like during these two fasting days.
- The 16/8 Fasting Method is another form of intermittent fasting.
- If you do this, your day looks like this: You eat all meals within 8 hours without eating for 16 hours in between.
- This means that if you finish dinner by 8 p.m., you would skip breakfast and then have lunch at noon the next day (since 8+12=16).
- 16/8 Fasting is good for those who want to lose fat fast, but it can also be done for maintenance.
Eat Stop Eat
- The Eat Stop Eat fasting plan is quite simple.
- It involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week.
- You can choose to do it on non-consecutive days, but the fast should not exceed 36 consecutive hours.
- This means that if you decide to have your fast on Monday and then again on Tuesday, you have to stop eating at 8 pm on Monday and then start again at 8 pm Tuesday.
The Warrior Diet
- The Warrior Diet is another type of intermittent fasting plan.
- It entails having food only during specific times every day – usually four to six hours daily between about 4 pm and midnight or 2 pm until 10 pm.
- On this diet, breakfast isn’t necessary, so you are encouraged to eat all meals within this time frame (snacks included).
- Intermittent fasting is a very flexible diet for beginners that can be adapted to a person’s lifestyle and schedule.
- It does NOT have to be complicated! You can fast whenever it fits into your schedule, rather than at specific times.
- For example, you could choose the 16/8 method and eat between noon – 8 pm every day of the week, or you could fast during your work hours then eat dinner with your family when you get home.
- You can also fit fasting into a weekend routine by not eating until brunch on Saturday and not eating again until brunch on Sunday.
- It is important to understand that while most people think of “breakfast” as the meal you eat in the morning, this is a misconception! In reality, your first meal should be eaten when you are truly hungry, which may or may NOT be in the morning.
Intermittent fasting is about listening to your body and eating when you’re hungry, not because it’s breakfast time or lunchtime.
7 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
1. Weight Loss: When you’re trying to lose weight, intermittent fasting can be an awesome option.
By limiting when you have to eat, it makes it a lot easier to limit your food intake and eat fewer calories than you would otherwise.
Intermittent fasting will help you lose weight because it naturally reduces the amount of food you eat.
Fasting allows your body to burn through its excess fat stores, so you lose weight without having to starve yourself.
Additionally, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, both of which are important for weight loss.
2. Reduced Cravings: With intermittent fasting, you get rid of the psychological need to eat at certain times of the day or after a certain meal.
This can also help reduce sugar cravings and your total calorie intake throughout the day.
Bonus tip: add fat burning fibrous vegetables to your meal(s) to further reduce cravings.
3. Body Repair: During sleep, your body releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which helps you build muscle and repair damaged cells.
When you wake up, a signal is sent to your pituitary gland that tells it to stop secreting HGH.
During fasting periods, your insulin levels naturally decrease and norepinephrine increases, which signals the release of more HGH.
This means that you can improve cellular repair and reduce the risk of getting sick during your fasting period, as your body can focus on fixing any damage that has occurred.
4. Increased Energy: Your body will switch from burning carbs for energy to burning fat after a few hours without eating.
Because we store quite a bit of fat in our bodies, this can give you a lot of energy and leave you feeling less fatigued.
5. Reduced Insulin: Intermittent fasting helps improve insulin resistance by forcing your body to use more fat for fuel and increase its insulin sensitivity.
This means that you will be able to maintain your energy levels while also reducing the amount of insulin your body needs to create energy.
6. Cellular Repair: The nervous system uses a lot of energy while it is active, which means not eating for a significant period can give it an energy boost by allowing it to use fat stores as fuel rather than the simple sugars that are stored in our bodies as glycogen.
Your cells also need to be repaired after periods where they have been active, and the nervous system is very active during fasting periods as it tries to repair itself.
7. Improved Cognitive Function: Fasting for short periods each day has been shown to promote a healthy brain by increasing the production of proteins responsible for cerebral metabolism.
It has also been shown to potentially help combat neurodegenerative conditions and other age-related cognitive disorders.
How Much Weight Can You Lose With Intermittent Fasting?
- If you stick to your calorie goals and add some consistent fat burning exercise, you can lose 2-3 pounds per week healthily.
- Some folks lose even more, but 2-3 pounds per week is a good guideline.
Should Women Fast?
Yes! Intermittent fasting is great for everyone, but even more so for women.
Intermittent fasting can impart numerous health benefits to women that are looking to improve their body composition, quality of life, and cognitive function.
The majority of research has focused on the relationship between intermittent fasting and weight loss, but there are many other benefits for women who fast regularly.
- The hormones leptin and ghrelin, which control satiety and hunger signals, begin to change throughout 24 hours in women.
- Leptin levels decrease during the first half of the cycle, while they increase during the second half.
- This leads to increases in hunger due to high levels of circulating leptin during the latter portion of their cycle.
- Ghrelin does not fluctuate as significantly.
So you can see how this hormone could be responsible for increased appetites at different times throughout the menstrual cycle; why some women feel hungrier right before their period.
All of these positive effects are due to the increased production of norepinephrine (NE) during fasted states.
NE imparts a variety of beneficial effects on female physiology by acting as an agonist to beta-3 adrenergic receptors (AR).
It increases energy expenditure via lipolysis and fatty acid oxidation; it decreases appetite; it improves glucose tolerance; it’s neuroprotective against – amyloid toxicity; and it facilitates memory extinction.
Let me simplify that: intermittent fasting can help women lose weight. It also increases energy levels, improves brain function, and protects against cellular damage.
Can I Drink Liquids During The Fast?
Absolutely! However, you should avoid drinking any calories while fasting.
Note: this applies to calorie-containing beverages.
Instead of eliminating liquids from your fasting routine, simply drink calorie-free beverages.
Water is an ideal choice, but black coffee and tea are also great options for everyone except pregnant women.
(Caffeine has been shown to blunt hunger levels, while tea can ensure adequate hydration without increasing appetite).
There are also tons of calorie-free carbonated drinks on the market, which not only taste good, but keeps your hunger at bay due to the carbonation.
My favorite brands are AHA, La Croix, Perrier, and Bubly.
Can I Take Supplements While Fasting?
A few examples include magnesium (before bed to help you sleep), alpha-lipoic acid, caffeine (in reasonable doses), green tea extract, berberine, resveratrol…the list goes on!
We suggest you check out our list of 25 natural appetite suppressants– these can really come in handy while you’re fasting, or on any diet quite frankly.
But even if you don’t choose to start taking any new supplements during your fasts, make sure you always take care of your basic micronutrient needs.
Primal Blueprint brand micronutrient supplement is what we suggest. It can be found on Amazon.
Do I Need Supplements For Intermittent Fasting To Work?
No, supplements are not needed for intermittent fasting to work.
Although, if you are an athlete (or training hard), branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can be used to prevent muscle loss when taken before exercising while fasting.
Can I Exercise While Fasted?
Exercise is a valuable tool for improving lean mass, but it also further increases the metabolic demands of your body.
Therefore, if you are planning on exercising while fasting (even with bodyweight workouts), I recommend keeping fully hydrated during the workout (drink lots of water) and eat a high-protein meal following your workout.
Fasted exercise is an effective way to burn fat, but working out hungry can have negative effects on performance, so taking care to prepare yourself adequately means that you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of exercise without any negative consequences.
Learn how to make it work for you.
- If working out on an empty stomach sounds like something that would be inconvenient or unpleasant, then feel free to postpone your workout until after you’ve had some food.
- Another good option for exercising during a fast is to shorten the duration of your workouts rather than eliminate them.
This will decrease the amount of time that your body spends in a fasted state while still allowing you to reap many of the benefits outlined above (increased energy levels, improved brain function, etc.).
We recommend starting with weight training for fat loss.
Is It Counterproductive To Fast?
The common conception of being “starving” during a fast doesn’t mean that all your metabolic functions will necessarily shut down.
If anything, intermittent fasting has been shown to result in increased energy levels due to improved mitochondrial function and enhanced cellular respiration!
Will Fasting Cause Muscle Loss?
Muscle loss due to fasting is a myth that is propagated due to the idea of fasting = “starvation” and starvation = muscle loss.
But as we’ve seen, this isn’t true at all!
Fasting for short periods can stimulate muscle building by increasing muscle protein synthesis and decreasing muscle protein breakdown.
Will Fasting Slow Down My Metabolism?
This is a very commonly held concern with fasting even though it has been studied extensively and found to be baseless.
Numerous studies have found that short-term fasts result in increased metabolic rates by 3.6–14%, likely due to the body’s ability to recycle more damaged cell components when given an opportunity.
Who Should Not Fast?
Medical conditions that require eating frequently should be taken into consideration before fasting.
- For example, those with diabetes and at risk for hypoglycemia should not fast as their blood sugar levels need constant monitoring.
- Pregnant and nursing women obviously cannot fast without negative consequences to the child or infant so they should avoid fasting as well.
- Also, those who suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia due to obsessive thoughts about food and body image should not engage in any type of restricted eating pattern such as intermittent fasting.
Is Intermittent Fasting A Good Diet To Lose Weight Before A Vacation?
Fasting before a vacation is a great option, especially when you are looking to shed some body fat for looking good on the beach.
If you need to lose 15 pounds and your vacation is coming up soon, the good news is that intermittent fasting works quickly because it works on both sides of the energy balance equation
Fasting puts your body in a state where it doesn’t have food coming in, so it needs to figure out what to do with all this stored fat.
It’ll break down some fat for energy (which is why you lose weight) and also break down some protein (since fasting depletes your glycogen stores & insulin levels are low).
Fasting is good when you have a lot of weight to lose because you will lose weight quickly.
Is Fasting A Good Way To Start Weight Loss?
Fasting is a good way to start weight loss because it teaches you the discipline to not eat when you are not hungry.
This is an important “skill” because studies have shown that overweight people are more likely to be consumers of highly palatable processed foods high in sugar, salt, refined carbs, and easily digestible starches.
So yes it’s a great way to start weight loss fasting has many benefits if done properly!
Won’t I Be Hungry All The Time If I’m Fasting?
People who engage in intermittent fasting often find that they do not experience the wide variety of food cravings that most dieters report.
This is due to the fact that fasting puts your body into a survival mode where it learns to adapt without any external assistance (i.e., food).
If you’re constantly eating, your body never has time to adapt and learn how to survive without a constant glucose supply.
Some studies show that exercising while fasting produces health benefits such as cellular repair (up to 30 percent more effective than exercising after eating).
But, other research shows that exercising while you’re fed is the only way to build muscle optimally.
To play it safe, do some fasted cardio if you like or light weight training (less intense exercise), but skip intense workouts, which can lead to injuries and long recovery times if done on an empty stomach.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Burning Belly Fat?
Intermittent fasting is a simple way for beginners to burn belly fat without having to spend much time learning the ins and outs of calorie and macronutrient control.
Remember, burning belly fat comes down to creating a caloric deficit. Fasting speeds that process.
Don’t forget to check out: Is intermittent fasting a good way to lose weight for your wedding?
Is It OK To Try Intermittent Fasting Over 50?
Yes, it is perfectly fine!
Although fasting can seem daunting to those who haven’t done it before, once you get the hang of things, not eating for a few hours or days becomes second nature.
Studies have shown that even short-term fasts (less than 24 hours) can shrink your stomach and shrink your fat cells giving you a leaner body appearance.
This means intermittent fasting is a great strategy to lose weight after 50.
The caveat here is to avoid all types of extreme diets as they are just plain dangerous but if you eat healthily and do not exceed your caloric intake then fasting intermittently should be safe for anyone at any age, provided you’ve checked with your doctor.
In conclusion, intermittent fasting is a beneficial dietary strategy that increases fat loss and lean mass retention while improving energy levels and promoting better overall health with incredible versatility!
If you’re looking to lose weight, or break your weight-loss plateau, intermittent fasting could be the answer.
Suggested reading: How much weight can you lose in 3 weeks with intermittent fasting?
This type of fasting helps you lose weight in several ways, including reducing cravings for unhealthy foods and increasing energy levels.
What’s more, intermittent fasting can also help reduce insulin levels, leading to the release of stored body fat so that it can be used as fuel.
Finally, intermittent fasting also leads to an increase in calorie burn through cellular repair.
All of these benefits make intermittent fasting a powerful tool for anyone looking to shed pounds and improve their health.