Are you intrigued by the buzz surrounding intermittent fasting and its promises to produce amazing weight loss results? Well, you’re not alone!
Intermittent fasting has been in the spotlight for quite some time now and we’re demystifying the popular weight loss trend for those who are ready to dive right in.
Intermittent fasting is an excellent way to begin losing fat quickly and for many, can also be integrated into a long-term weight reduction program.
And while the term “fasting” may scare many off, intermittent fasting simply involves alternating between extended periods of eating and fasting (typically hours). Best of all, intermittent fasting is different for everyone and can be adjusted to fit your specific needs.
Let’s dive straight in and review the pros and cons of intermittent fasting and review some important information you should know before getting started with the exciting weight loss plan.
How Intermittent Fasting Works
A common way of integrating intermittent fasting into your daily routine includes alternating fasting days, for complete days with a set number of days per week, or during a set time frame.
Here’s a list of options you may choose from:
Alternate-Day Fasting: Alternating between days that are completely free of restrictions, and days that consists of only one meal, providing approximately 25% of your daily caloric needs.
- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: Fasting Days
- Tuesday, and Thursday: No food restrictions
Whole-Day Fasting: Fasting completely or up to 25% of caloric needs for one or two days per week. The other days of the week should contain no food restrictions.
Time-Restricted Feeding: Blocking out time for fasting while following a regimented meal plan each day of the week. For example: Eating meals only during 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 8 hours during the day only (often called the 16:8 method).
Choosing the best intermittent fasting method depends entirely on your body and your lifestyle. To avoid the pesky symptoms of intermittent fasting it’s best to ease your way into the diet plan by choosing the 16:8 method mentioned above, and proceed by working your way to an additional method after a few weeks.
Pros of Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
You Eat Fewer Calories
Those who try intermittent fasting usually consume fewer calories due to the restrictive nature of the process, that is unless your meals during non-restrictive periods are excessive.
A lower calorie diet typically results in losing weight, but intermittent fasting also achieves by enhancing hormone function.
According to Healthline, “lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.”
This leads to an increase in your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, which helps you burn off even more calories.
In fact, a 2014 study showed that intermittent fashion has the potential of producing a 3-8% over 3-24 weeks, and reducing waist circumference by 4-7% — also known as the dreaded belly fat.
You Hold On to Muscle While Dieting
Losing precious muscle while also losing fat is one of the major downsides of typical dieting.
One study found that intermittent calorie reduction resulted in equivalent calorie burning while maintaining more muscle mass. In the typical calorie restriction diet, 25% of the weight loss was muscle when compared to only 10% for the intermittent fasting participants.
It’s easy to see how easy and prep-free intermittent fasting can be! After choosing your fasting frequency that best fits into your life, you can do away with the calorie-counting and stick to a consistent and healthy lifestyle that may feel far less restrictive compared to other diets.
After all, sustained success in weight loss is achieved through consistent effort. The best “diet” is the one you can stick with the longest without “falling off the wagon” and intermittent fasting may be the key for you.
While intermittent fasting is primarily touted as a quick way to lose weight and burn fat, the diet plan is linked to several other health benefits including to the possibility of:
- Decreased blood insulin and sugar levels
- Reversal of type 2 diabetes
- Improved mental clarity and concentration
- Increased energy
- Increased growth hormone, at least in the short term
- Improved blood cholesterol profile
- Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Prolonged longer life
- Activation of cellular cleansing by stimulating autophagy
- Decreased inflammation
Cons of Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Now here comes the bad news. Despite its long list of benefits, intermittent fasting also has a few drawbacks.
Your First Weeks May Be Very Difficult
Getting started with intermittent fasting is quick and easy, but your first few weeks on the diet may seem like a nightmare.
When you deprive your body of food, your appetite hormones and your brain’s hunger center go into overdrive, so it’s important to ease your way into the diet.
Hard To Maintain for the Long-Run
Intermittent fasting is known to have a very high dropout rate (38%), and those who quit tend to overeat following their fasting periods.
May Affect Daily Performance and Mental Clarity
Intermittent fasting, especially at the beginning, may interfere with your focus and potentially your work performance — especially if you’ve chosen a longer fasting period.
Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting
Before starting any new diet regime, we highly recommend discussing your choice with your doctor. Skipping meals and intaking so few calories can be dangerous if you have certain conditions, such as diabetes.
If you suffer from heart disease or take medication for blood pressure are also more susceptible to electrolyte abnormalities when fasting.
If you’ve had an eating disorder or have shown signs of disordered eating (ie. binge eating, food obsession, etc) intermittent fasting should be avoided.
Lastly, if you’re pregnant, breast-feeding, have cancer or have a compromised immune system, you should avoid intermittent fasting.
Suggestions for Intermittent Fasting Newbies
- Start with the 16/8 protocol: Start with a longer eating period and work your way down from there. Your body will slowly adjust and staying with your fasting regiment.
- Drinks lots of water: while it’s important to stay hydrated at all times, it’s even more important while trying intermittent fasting to avoid unwanted symptoms such as bloating, headaches, sluggish digestion and decreased metabolism. Filling up on water may even prevent any hunger pains until your body adjusts to your new eating schedule.
- Break your fast if you feel dizzy or sick: your body needs time to adjust to intermittent fasting and until it does, you may experiences symptoms like irritability, low energy, weakness, dizziness, and may feel cold. It’s important to eat if you experience these symptoms and to work your way up to longer fasting periods gradually.
- Eat filling and nutritious meals: When starting, it’s easy to get focused on the calories, but it’s vital that you choose wholesome foods that do an excellent job at filling you up. Focus on quality protein sources to keep your hunger at bay and choose a variety of veggies to make sure your body receives a healthy array of compounds.
After reviewing the pros and cons of intermittent fasting, it’s clear that this may not be the magic bullet that fits into everyone’s lifestyle.
It may not be the easiest way to lose weight but people do successfully shed pounds with intermittent fasting. And as with any weight loss plan, the foundation of a successful intermittent fasting journey includes eating high-quality foods, choosing the right portions and setting up a proper self-care rituals that support your weight loss journey —either through a group, friend, healthcare profession and additional wellness products like NATUREAL Supplements to support your gut health, digestion and overall wellness.