Intermittent fasting for weight loss has been a frequent topic of conversation within the health and fitness community over the last few years. But what exactly is it, how does it work, and how can it benefit your weight loss journey? In this blog, we look at the basics of intermittent fasting and how working with a nutrition coach can help you decide if it is right for you.
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting involves having periods where you are fasting and periods where you are eating throughout the day or week. Intermittent fasting is not a diet from a timing standpoint. We repeat, it is not a diet. It is a shift in your eating patterns to initiate changes within your body to aid in weight loss. Often, people hear the word fasting and immediately think of going without food for lengthy periods, and that is an option, but it is not the only way it can be done.
Overnight intermittent is really the easiest method for those who are not breakfast haters or skippers. With that method you eat your meals in 12 hours and then nothing but water or whatever for the overnight 12 hours so 6am-6pm food and nothing again for another 12 hours. Truly sustainable for the long term.
The next method is called Eat-Stop-Eat. This method is closest to the type of fasting some people imagine when they think of intermittent fasting. With this method, you would fast for a full 24 hours once or twice a week but eat as usual the rest of the week. The fasting period can begin at any time of day.
Finally, there is the 5:2 diet. This method involves limiting caloric intake to only 500-600 calories two days out of the week while eating on a normal schedule on other days. Your limited intake days don’t need to be taken consecutively.
No one method is the best intermittent fasting for weight loss. We suggest working with your nutrition coach to determine the method that is the most sustainable for your lifestyle, as well as your dietary and exercise needs.
We mentioned that intermittent fasting causes changes within your body that facilitate weight loss. These changes include increasing growth hormones within your body to help burn fat and increase lean muscle without stringent calorie reductions. Fasting also triggers the release of the hormone noradrenaline, which is a fat-burning hormone. You’ll also lower your blood sugar and insulin levels, which makes it easier for your body to use up stored body fat and reduce insulin resistance. All these changes combined can result in an increased metabolism. In short, you are burning more calories than you are consuming, so you are likely to lose weight.
The most frequent concern with intermittent fasting for weight loss is extreme hunger resulting in binge-eating. After 16 hours with no food, hunger is normal. A common strategy to limit hunger is to eat protein-rich foods for dinner, which will help sustain your body until your first meal in the afternoon. However, without careful planning, you run the risk of overeating later on. Even though intermittent fasting is not a diet, you still want to be mindful of the calories you are consuming during your eating period. The people who are the most unsuccessful at using intermittent fasting for weight loss think that 16 hours of fasting gives them a free pass to eat all they want in the afternoon and evening.
It’s also essential to plan fasting around your exercise schedule. If you work out first thing in the morning, your might feel sick or fatigued. This is because working out on an empty stomach leaves your body with little fuel for your workout. Your body needs some glucose before workouts and protein afterwards and, with intermittent fasting, you are not getting either of these. If you work out and are interested in intermittent fasting for weight loss, work with a nutrition coach to discuss the best options for you.
Ultimately, the biggest disadvantage is that there is minimal research about intermittent fasting. There are some studies that have been conducted, but there is just not enough research to say definitively if this is the best weight loss option available.
Intermittent fasting may not be beneficial for everyone. You should consult with a health professional before starting intermittent fasting, especially if you have a history of eating disorders, fluctuating blood sugar, diabetes, low blood pressure, or taking medications. Women who are trying to conceive, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have menstruation issues should also seek medical advice before fasting.
Body Essentials offers lifestyle and nutritional coaching to support you in your weight loss goals. So, if you’re interested in intermittent fasting for weight loss or discovering other nutrition plan options, call us at 802-345-9644 or set up a consultation online.