How Effective Is Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss?

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I have lost track reading about the fads and trends of weight loss. Be it the GM diet or Garicinia Cambogia, 321 Baby bulge be gone diet, or juice fasting – all these have given us varying results. While some found these effective, others had negative results. The latest trend in the weight loss scenario is intermittent fasting. The web is abuzz with its miraculous results, but the question still is does it really work?

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting or IF, as it is called, is hailed as one of the hottest and most effective weight loss trends for this year. It is not a diet, but is a dieting pattern. To keep it simpler, it is nothing but scheduled eating where you skip certain meal(s) knowingly.

According to studies, this pattern is known to have a significant positive impact on those who are on a weight loss track, and even helps thwarting the risk of various chronic medical conditions. There are various strategies involved in this intermittent fasting, but the most advocated and popular one is 5:2 diet.

According to Dr. Michael Mosley, the author of ‘The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting’, the 5:2 approach allows the person to indulge in regular meals 5 days a week, while rest of the two days are spent on fasting. Again fasting here does not imply complete abstinence from food. A man consumes about 600 calories on the days he fasts, while for a woman it is 500 calories on the fasting days. And the good news is that you can have as much of tea, sans milk and sugar, and water on the days you fast.

However, I personally feel that instead of fasting on two days a week, you could practically fast daily. It means you could consciously skip one of your every day meals and still lose weight. This sounds more feasible than a 5:2 strategy.

Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Weight Loss?

When compared to full day, long duration fasts, intermittent fasts are definitely simpler and easier to practice. Let us take a look at the basic body metabolism here to understand how this fasting aids in weight loss.

Your body needs at least 8 to 12 hours for using up the stored glycogen. People, in general, eat 3 to 6 meals a day, depending on their diet regimen. And, hence, the glycogen levels always remain untouched, with only the sugar being used by for fuelling purposes. This untouched glycogen remains as fat leading to weight gain.

This means if intermittent fasting has to be effective, the duration of the fast should be a minimum of 8 hours. For example what you can do is finish your dinner at 7 pm today and have the next meal at around 11 am next morning – 17 hours between two major meals! This will actually give enough time for the glycogen levels to start depleting, having access to fat as a fuel.

The Research on Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss:

According to a study published in 2013 October in the British Journal of Nutrition, “participants were divided into groups and instructed to eat a diet for three months in a way that reduced their typical calorie intake by about 25 percent. The first group ate only low-carbohydrate foods for two consecutive days, while the second was limited to two straight days of low-carbohydrate, low-calorie foods. The third group restricted calories daily.

The two intermittent restriction groups lost twice as much weight as the chronic restriction group, but the intermittent groups didn’t differ from each other. In addition, more people in the intermittent groups lost weight: 65 percent of intermittent restrictors, compared with 40 percent in the chronic restriction group.”

Any Ifs and Buts?

Yes, as with other diet programs, this also comes with its share of ifs and buts. Your intermittent fasting weight loss plan should be a healthy one. Minimize carbohydrates in your diets. Instead, opt for a healthy fast, including coconut oil, eggs, avocados, butter, olive oil, and nuts as these would provide with about 85% of your daily calorie requirement. Nevertheless, your plate should be loaded with fruits and veggies, in terms of volume, as they will keep hunger pangs away.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss:

While this dieting pattern bestows you with weight loss and helps keeping those hunger pangs away, there are a handful of other benefits also.

  1. Helps in lowering the levels of triglycerides
  2. Improves your leptin and insulin sensitivity, both that are essential for keeping you in good shape and health
  3. Helps to keep ghrelin levels under control
  4. Lowers the risk of various chronic medical conditions
  5. Averts free radical damages
  6. Eases inflammatory conditions
  7. Improves memory skills
  8. Helps in building muscles while losing fat
  9. Boosts the secretion of anti-ageing hormones
  10. Improves brain health

With many benefits lined up, this weight loss trend seems to look promising.

The Dark Side:

Is there really a darker side for this intermittent fasting weight loss strategy? Well, it could actually vary from person to person, but the following could be faced by quite a few people:

1. People might feel they could stuff themselves with calorie laden delights as they would be fasting for 16+ hours.
2. Larger meals could trigger digestion problems.
3. People might feel a dip in energy levels, especially during the mornings, due to an early dinner.

Given the countless benefits the trend has, you can actually rule out these dark sides. Plus, I personally feel, having a little control over your thoughts could actually help you tide over these compulsive habits.

The Bottom Line:

You can indulge in intermittent fasting, but do expect results to vary. Never hesitate if you want to experiment. Intermittent fasting could definitely provide you with benefits. Try and share your experiences with us!

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