As always check with your healthcare provider before starting anything new.
With the increasing knowledge of the health implications of obesity, many people are seeking effective ways to reduce and maintain their body weight. It is a known fact that obesity is a national epidemic across the United States. Statistics from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development indicate that more than 35 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese, and more than 34 percent are overweight.
The stats also show that 32% of children and adolescents are either obese or overweight. You can find out what your ideal weight is from your body mass index (BMI). Your height, weight, and gender, all determine your BMI. Being obese or overweight can put you at risk for conditions that include diabetes, hypertension, and other cardio metabolic diseases.
There is no shortage of dietary approaches when it comes to losing weight. However, most extreme diets and self-prescribed fad diet methods, such as fermented foods, parasite cleanses, and weight loss shakes, offer more hype than hope. Most doctors and nutritionists recommend a common sense approach with a healthy food variety, reduced portions, and increased physical activity.
Fasting for weight loss is an effective strategy in preventing weight gain and promoting weight reduction. One particular type of fasting that is gaining popularity and effectiveness is intermittent fasting.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is a practice that means different things to different people. The practice of fasting dates back centuries. It is temporary abstinence from food or drink (aside from water, herbal teas, etc.) for a set amount of time. Primarily, most people who fast do so based on their religious beliefs. However, new emerging studies show that regularly fasting has many health benefits. One is that it aids weight loss by limiting the period of calorie intake, which can improve both metabolism and digestion.
Although it may sound intimidating at first, this article will explain how practicing intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the most sustainable and simplest methods you can use to shed excess body fat– while still maintain your muscle.
Intermittent Fasting: What it and How to Do it
Intermittent fasting is a dietary pattern. Depending on the type you choose, you control when to eat and when to abstain.
Types of intermittent fasting
There are seven different types of intermittent fasting (IF) methods available, each with advantages and challenges. Your weight loss goal, lifestyle, and preferences can help you decide which of the eight methods are best for you.
Fast within a daily window
This is also known as time-restricted feeding, or 16:8 fasting. The focus here is on the number of hours you fast for (known as your fasting window), and the hours you eat during (known as your feeding window). With this method, you limit your eating window of a few hours in a day, normally between 4 – 8 hours, while you fast for the remaining 16-20 hours daily. However, outside of the feeding window period, you can drink water and no-calorie drinks, such as herbal tea, filtered water, and bone broth.
Advocates of this method assert that during the long 16-hour fasting period, the body depletes its main energy source, which is glucose. The body then, in its search for more energy will naturally turn to its secondary energy source, which is stored fat This metabolic process– where your body starts burning fat for fuel instead of glucose– is called ketosis. Ketosis can result in rapid weight and fat loss over time, but for this purpose, the 16:8 fast may not be long enough to develop and maintain full-blown ketosis. However, it is still an effective fasting method to achieve fat loss.
With the 16:8 method, sleeping occurs for most of the 16 hours of fasting, which makes it easier to achieve For example, let us say your feeding window was between 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm. If you woke up at 9:00 am, you would only be fasting for 3 hours in the morning before your first meal. Upon awakening, you can take a no-calorie drink, such as brewed herbal tea or water, and wait until noon or so before eating a proper meal, and eat your last meal before 8:00pm. Beginners in intermittent fasting, and those who wish to shed excess body fat, but lack the time to prepare breakfast, will find the 16:8 method to be a convenient method.
Skip a meal
Also known as meal skipping, this method is similar to the 16:8 intermittent fasting method. An intermittent faster on this plan will eat two square meals instead of the normal three square meals. To determine which meal is best to skip, it helps to listen to your body and hunger signals, activity levels throughout the day, etc. to determine your hunger patterns. You decide on which meal to skip. This could be your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For people who are beginning, this is another excellent method to introduce intermittent fasting into your routine.
Fat fasting (Also Known as Keto Intermittent Fasting)
Fat fasting, unlike the first two methods, does not include an eating or fasting period window. Those who are already in ketosis or wish to get into ketosis quickly will find this method as a great option. In this method, the intermittent faster fasts for 2-5 days, with fat accounting for 80-90% of the calories consumed on non-fasting days. There are numerous variations of fat fasting. This depends on the person, and because there is a bit of a gray area here with information online, it is recommended to work with an experienced health practitioner to determine the right fat intake and fasting period for you.
As an example, some people who are practicing fat fasting prefer to limit their caloric intake per day between 1100 to 1200 calories, with most calories coming from fat. Others would prefer to break this further down to six 200-250 calorie mini meals for a total of 1200 calories per day. For some people, the starvation signal may accelerate the production of hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. This raises concerns for our hormone balance, such as insulin, cortisol, and estrogen and progesterone, and is not recommended for women who plan to become pregnant Always check with your health care provider before changing your dietary patterns.
Alternate day fasting
Just the name suggests, you alternate your fasting days. You fast for a whole day, drinking only water, bone broth, no-calorie drink, and other broths; while the next day, you resume your normal eating, eating your regular meals such as quality proteins, healthy fats and complex carbs. This continues on, fasting and abstaining every other day.
A Vardy study published in Jama Internal Medicine proved this method as an effective in weight reduction strategy. According to the study, people who engaged in alternate intermittent fast for a year lost 6 percent of their body weight. However, a beginner in intermittent fasting might find this method extreme and difficult, and is better off to begin with 16:8 intermittent fasting, or meal skipping.
Ori Hofmekler created the warrior method, also known as the one meal a day (OMAD) diet. It is an imitation of diets consumed by ancient day warriors. People who follow this fasting method drink only water and no-calorie drinks during the day, but eat high quality unprocessed, whole foods at night. Refined sugar, processed foods, and deep fried foods are to be avoided. The drawback to this method is the temptation to overfeed during the short eating period. This can result in constipation and indigestion.
Eat-Stop-Eat or 24-hour fast
This is full 24-hour abstinence from food. During this period, practitioners after eating their regular meals will abstain from eating for the next 24-hours. They can choose to drink only water and no-calorie beverage during the fasting period.
With an intermittent fasting 5:2 diet method, you eat whatever you want for 5 out of the 7 days in a week and fast for the remaining 2 days. You can choose to either alternate the eating and fasting period or observe on a long stretch of a 48-hour fast.
This method has found to be more manageable for beginners. Although effective, the results with this fasting and feeding window are more gradual. As a less intense intermittent fasting window, this method may be ideal for women who plan to become pregnant, with less of a risk of hormonal imbalance. The 14:10 method is a 2-4 month eating pattern that follows a 14-hour fast with a 10-hour eating window. For most people, after 2-4 months, it is recommended to increase your fasting window to the 16:8 method to accelerate your results.
Having excess weight is counterproductive to your health. The popularity and acceptance of intermittent fasting as a way of losing weight without the loss of muscle mass is viable.
With intermittent fasting, you are sure of a slow but stable weight loss of 1-2 pounds every week. Going forward, knowing your body mass index (BMI) is the starting point. You can opt-in for any of the seven methods to shed excess fat if your BMI is above the normal value. There is a need to consider your lifestyle, weight loss goals, and personality before settling in on any of the intermittent fasting methods.