The term intermittent fasting—IF—describes a technique using meal timing. People fast within a specific window and the balance of the time, eat normally. Initially, doctors used IF to help control seizures and for other medical issues. Today, many people use it for weight loss. IF isn’t rigid. You can do it in several ways. The most popular is too fast for an extended period, such as 14 to 16 hours, consuming only tea, coffee, or water, then eat normally the rest of the time. Some forms include alternating days of normal eating with fasting days or ones when you eat limited calories.
You’ll get better results if you eat healthy when you use IF for weight loss.
People who use IF for weight loss focus more on timing the meals, rather than what they consume. While there are no food restrictions with IF, if you’re using it for weight loss, you’ll experience improved results by choosing healthy options rather than junk food. IF allows you to eat more at each meal, so you never feel deprived. During the fasting period, your body burns fat, rather than glucose, as fuel. That also helps lower insulin levels in the blood, can make cells less insulin resistant, and aid in weight loss.
Studies show IF can be a healthy option for some people.
Many of the studies on IF were animal studies. One early rat study showed the group fed every other day lived 83% longer and remained more youthful than those that had food on demand. They also had fewer age-related illnesses. During fasting, the body removes damaged cells that could lead to cancer. The body also removes cellular waste more efficiently during IF. It also caused the genes controlling longevity to improve. One beneficial change was an increase in HGH—human growth hormone. HGH can help weight loss by increasing muscle mass, decreasing body fat, and improving exercise capacity.
Not everyone should do IF.
People with diabetes and those taking blood pressure or heart medication shouldn’t use IF unless it’s under a doctor’s supervision. IF isn’t appropriate for pregnant or breastfeeding women either. It may negatively affect people with eating disorders or those prone to eating disorders. If you have any type of health issue, always check with your healthcare professional before starting any type of diet.
- The easiest way to do IF is to extend the 8-hour nighttime fast when you sleep to a 16-hour fast. You’ll eat the first meal at 10 a.m. and eat the last one at 6 p.m.
- Most people eat less if their food intake is limited to a specific time window. While you may eat as much or more at each meal when you follow IF, you’ll eat fewer meals.
- A review of recent studies shows that IF can reduce fat by 16% or more in 12 weeks or less. It can cause as much as an 8% reduction in weight.
- Combining IF with a ketogenic diet can improve results. It can cut the time to reach ketosis, which is the key to losing weight with a keto diet.
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