Weight loss is a goal of many people, including men, women, and children. It is also a great challenge that has led people down slippery paths when they have tried to achieve weight loss through unconventional methods like starving themselves. There is one weight-loss method that has scientifically been proven to be effective. It is intermittent fasting but like other methods, it has to be done correctly for it to work.
How Intermittent Fasting Works
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of food consumption where there are periods of eating and desisting or fasting. Unlike diets, it is not about eating more or less of particular kinds of food but rather about when you eat and don’t eat. This is why it is a pattern of eating rather than a diet.
Intermittent fasting has different approaches with varying fasting periods:
- One approach is the 16/8 method where breakfast is skipped and food intake is restricted for eight hours. You then fast for 16 hours in between.
- Another approach is the Eat-Stop-Eat where you fast for 24 hours one or two times every week. For instance, you would eat dinner one night and fast till dinner time the next night.
- A third approach is the 5:2 diet where 500 to 600 calories are consumed for two consecutive days every week. On the other five days, you would eat as you normally do.
How Weight Loss is Achieved
Whichever method you choose, weight loss is achieved. This is as long as you don’t go overboard and eat too much after a fast. This is because changes occur at the cellular level. One change that occurs is that the hormone levels in the body adjust. The Human Growth Hormone (HGH) increases by as much as five times which results in fat loss and muscle gain among other benefits. Also, insulin levels reduce significantly which makes it easier to lose stored fat.
Additionally, as your weight goes down, the cells start to repair themselves which optimizes every body function. One cellular change is autophagy where old cells are digested which removes old, dysfunctional proteins that have accumulated in the cells. This is why you will not only feel and look lighter but energized. Even gene function changes which improves longevity and immunity.
With all these changes and with a higher metabolic rate because there is less to digest, intermittent fasting has been found to cause weight loss of 3 to 8 % over a period of three to 24 weeks. This is very favorable compared to other weight loss methods. One of the greatest benefits has been losing 4 to 7% of waist circumference which means a significant loss of fat around the belly which is the most dangerous. Some people also saw inflammation reduce which causes many chronic conditions.
Not for Everyone
While its benefits are clear, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It should not be practiced by:
- Expectant or breastfeeding mothers
- A woman who is trying to conceive whether naturally or through treatment
- One who is underweight or has a history of an eating disorder
- Diabetics and people with blood sugar regulation problems
- High or low blood pressure
- Those on medication
- Women within the history of amenorrhea
- People with heart conditions
For some of the people above, intermittent fasting can be beneficial and effective in controlling their symptoms. It is, however, important to get checked and be given the green light to start this method of weight loss. The healthcare provider may want to provide specific guidelines and may want to monitor them which is important.
A common question about intermittent fasting is whether you can consume anything during a fast. The answer is yes: you can take liquids such as water, tea, coffee, and fruit and vegetable juices. The idea is to stick to low calorie, low sugar drinks to give the body a rest from digesting the contents of a full stomach. It is also important to think ahead about what you will eat when the fasting period is over. Take the time to prepare healthy food and drink so that it’s ready to eat when you break the fast. Otherwise, you will most likely reach for unhealthy food and snacks which will defeat the purpose of losing weight.
You also want to practice portion control. Prepare what you will eat and serve it so that you can stick to a healthy portion. Otherwise, you will eat more than you need to because you haven’t eaten in a while which will be counterproductive.
Those who want to work out can go ahead and do so. If you are doing so during a fasting period, you can boost your energy with a piece of fruit or a pre or post-workout supplement. Just keep it light and healthy.
Here to help
MangoClinic in Miami has a team of skilled, experienced healthcare providers including weight management specialists. Make an appointment and schedule a consultation with one of them. They will offer professional advice about intermittent fasting and other weight management options to find what would best for you. Get in touch and start the journey to achieving your weight loss goals safely for life.