Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

One tool that can help you shed fat quickly, and more importantly, enable you to keep it off, is fasting, the process of cycling periods of eating and not eating. Intermittent fasting for weight loss also has benefits beyond shedding fat. It can fast-track your metabolism and lead to improved memory and brain function and boosted energy levels.

What is intermittent fasting for weight loss?

When intermittent fasting for weight loss, you consume all the nutrients your body needs, but in a shorter period of time than usual. For instance, in a 24-hour period, you eat during a 6-8 hour period and fast for the remaining 14-16 hours. One of the more popular variations on fasting for weight loss is called the “18:6” method. This means you would fit all of your eating into a 6-hour window, and fast for the remaining 18 hours in the day. 

One Meal a Day Method for Weight Loss

However, 18:6 fasting is far from the only viable method when it comes to intermittent fasting for weight loss. There is also a version typically referred to as the “one-meal-a-day” method. As the name would suggest, you would eat one large meal a day and fast for approximately 23 hours. People who use this method usually break their fast between 4 and 7 PM.

Variations of Intermittent Fasting

Some more variations of intermittent fasting include:

  • The 16:8 method: This method involves skipping breakfast and beginning your eating window around noon. The eating window would then last until about 8 PM, leaving you with a 16-hour fasting window.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: People who engage in this method will fast for a complete 24 hours one or two days a week, by fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next day. 
  • The 5:2 diet: When using the 5:2 diet for weight loss, you would eat 500 or 600 calories on two days per week, and eat normally the remaining 5 days of the week.

Something that can help determine your optimal fasting schedule is a food journal. This allows you to document your reactions to different variations of weight loss with fasting at different times.

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss Studies

In a 2015 study, people who participated in various methods of intermittent fasting lost on average 10 pounds in 10 weeks. In a study conducted at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, a group of people who engaged in the 18:6 method of fasting for weight loss for four days were found to produce less hunger hormone than a group who did not engage in any sort of weight loss fasting. 

Researchers believe that eating earlier in the day helped participants to curb their appetites rather than necessarily burning any more calories. It is important to remember that intermittent fasting does not always affect how many calories you burn. It still may be necessary to eat calorie-controlled meals even when you are fasting, depending on which schedule you select.

In this study, researchers also noticed that a larger fasting window enhanced metabolic flexibility. This means that the body was better able to switch between burning carbs and burning fat for fuel.

How does intermittent fasting enhance weight loss?

Intermittent fasting can trigger a cluster of metabolic changes that all collaborate and contribute to weight loss. The benefits of this include:

Lowering insulin levels

Intermittent fasting for weight loss can boost levels of adiponectin, which will increase your sensitivity to insulin. The greater your sensitivity to insulin, the lesser your risk for weight gain and diabetes. If your body creates less insulin, it will also need to start burning stored fat, rather than glucose.

Improving cholesterol

While having good cholesterol doesn’t necessarily correlate to weight loss, many overweight or obese people have high levels of LDL and VLDL cholesterols, which carries a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease. Fasting decreases your levels of LDL and VLDL cholesterols.

Kickstarting ketosis

Ketosis is when your body is forced to burn through fat due to a lack of glucose, which is your body’s primary source of energy. Intermittent fasting makes it necessary for your body to begin the process of ketosis by reducing available levels of glucose.

Reducing inflammation

Intermittent fasting for weight loss purposes will decrease your body’s oxidative stress, which naturally decreases inflammation, a key element of weight loss

Boosting metabolism

Boosting your resting metabolism will enable your body to burn calories at a faster rate. This happens even when you aren’t necessarily being active. During a fasting period, your body will also produce more adrenaline and noradrenaline. This will burn through fat in order to access spare energy stored there.

Increasing human growth hormone

Levels of HGH have been known to skyrocket during a fast. This is a hormone that enhances muscle gain and fat loss.

Intermittent Fasting and Visceral Fat

Intermittent fasting for weight loss targets visceral fat effectively. Visceral fat refers to the fat packed around the organs in your body. This fat can often be stubborn and difficult to lose. People participating in intermittent fasting for weight loss were able to shed 4-7% of their total visceral fat.

Intermittent fasting has also been reported to result in less muscle loss, an unfortunate side effect of other types of dieting. For participants who engaged in intermittent fasting, only 10% lost muscle mass, as opposed to 25% for participants who just restricted their caloric intake without any fasting. 

Conclusion

Many intermittent fasting schedules also recommend strength training in addition to fasting for weight loss. This is important for holding on to muscle mass.

As well as caloric intake, the quality of food you eat is still important when you’re engaging in intermittent fasting.  It is important to eat as many whole, single-ingredient meals as you can.

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