These days, more and more people are looking for ways to lose weight. There are diet pills, weight loss shakes, diet programs, and exercise routines that are designed to help shed off those stubborn pounds and hopefully speed up the weight loss process. One of the known ways to lose weight that has been gaining popularity recently is intermittent fasting. It’s not a diet plan and you don’t need to change what you eat. Instead, you set a schedule for your meals so you can maximize the health benefits that you get from the food you eat. Intermittent fasting is regularly fasting for short periods. According to some studies, if you take short-term fasts, you decrease your intake of calories and enhance the production of hormones that help control your body weight.
The top three popular intermittent fasting methods are:
1.The 5:2 Diet: Limit your calories to only 500-600 on two days each week and then go back to your normal consumption during the remaining five days.
2.Eat-Stop-Eat: Pick two days out of a seven-day period and do 24-hour fasts on those days. Some people prefer to avoid food from dinner one day up to dinner the following day.
3.The 16/8 Method: For this method you won’ be eating for 16 hours. You also need to skip breakfast. The only time you’re allowed to eat is during the 8-hour feeding window which is usually from lunchtime until 8 in the evening.
These methods will help you get rid of that belly fat and shed off those extra pounds by reducing your daily intake of calories. These will only work if you avoid over-eating during the feeding window.
The Effect of Intermittent Fasting on your Hormones
When your daily intake of calories is beyond what the body needs, it stores the excess energy as fat or glycogen for later use. These excess calories are stored in the fat cells, liver, and muscles. When you keep eating excess calories, the body expands and this results in weight gain. The body changes the way it stores calories when we’re not eating anything. This change makes it easier for the body to access stored energy due to hormonal changes and adjustments in the nervous system.
We listed some of the changes that occur in your body’s metabolism during fasting:
- Norepinephrine: Norepinephrine, or noradrenaline, is an organic chemical released to the fat cells by the nervous system. Norepinephrine helps the body break down fat to transform it into free fatty acids that can be burned to produce energy.
- Insulin: When we’re eating, our body’s insulin levels are increased. When we’re fasting, our insulin levels decrease. When we have low levels of insulin, it becomes easier for our body to burn fat.
- Human growth hormone (HGH): The human growth hormones (HGH) are multiplied five times when we fast. These human growth hormones play a vital role in promoting muscle gain and fat loss.
While weight loss programs that consist of 5-6 meals a day seem promising, intermittent fasting methods are actually more effective because they promote fat burning. Studies show that the metabolism is increased by 3.6-14% when you fast for two days. On the flipside, however, long fasting periods can stifle metabolism.
Conclusion: Fasting for short periods result in various changes that make it easier for the body to burn fat. These changes include lowered insulin levels, enriched epinephrine signaling, improved metabolism, and a rise in the production of growth hormones.
Lowers Calorie Intake and Promotes Weight Loss
A review study conducted in 2014 showed that intermittent fasting can lead to dramatic changes in a person’s weight (2-8% in a span of 3-24 weeks). When the rate of weight loss was examined, results showed that people lost 0.55 pounds (0.25 kilograms) weekly because of intermittent fasting, but 1.65 pounds (0.75 kilograms) weekly when they tried alternate-day fasting. The waist circumference dropped by 4-7% which shows that they also got rid of belly fat. These impressive results prove that intermittent fasting is indeed an effective way to lose weight.
However, there’s more to intermittent fasting than just weight loss. It also has several benefits such as: reduces the risk of chronic disease, boosts metabolic health, and adds a few more years to your life. If you keep track of your calories while you’re doing intermittent fasting, you will notice that the weight loss is caused by a decrease in the intake of calories. According to studies, there is no big difference between calorie restrictions and intermittent fasting when it comes to weight loss.
Conclusion: With intermittent fasting, you can reduce your calorie intake without limiting your food consumption. It can also help you get rid of stubborn belly fat.
Increase in Muscle Mass
The downside of dieting is that the body burns the fat and the muscles. With intermittent fasting, however, you get to keep your muscles as you lose body fat. A review study showed that while intermittent fasting has the same amount of weight loss as calorie restriction, there were differences in muscle mass reduction. Studies about calorie restriction showed that 25% of the lost weight is actually muscle mass, as opposed to the 10% in intermittent fasting. In another study, participants were asked to consume the same amount of calories, except for one huge meal to be consumed at night. As a result, their body fat decreased and their muscle mass increased. These studies have limitations so acknowledge the findings, but remain open to other possibilities.
Conclusion: Compared to calorie restriction, intermittent fasting will help you keep your muscle mass.
Simplicity is Key
Intermittent fasting is simple. You’re given options to eat during a “feeding window” (16/8 method) each day. You also have the option to eat only two meals per day which makes things simpler, healthier, and less expensive. You’ll know if it’s the diet that suits you best if you can commit to that diet for a long time. If you find that intermittent fasting allows you to commit to a healthy diet, then you’re guaranteed of its weight maintenance and health benefits.
Conclusion: With intermittent fasting, you can keep things simple. It’s also a lot easier to commit to a healthy diet.
Tips on how to Stick to an Intermittent Fasting Method
There are factors that you need to consider if you want to do intermittent fasting to lose weight:
1.Patience: It will take some time for your body to adjust to intermittent fasting. Just follow the program, commit, and you’ll see changes in your body.
2.Calories: Just because you’re eating less calories doesn’t mean they no longer count. During non-fasting periods, consume what you would normally consume but don’t go overboard to compensate for what you missed when you were fasting.
3.Quality: Remember, you’re only changing when you eat, not what you eat. This means that the quality of the food you eat is very important. As much as possible, consume single ingredient foods.
4.Consistency: The method won’t change your body in the blink of an eye. As with other weight loss programs, you need to commit to it for a long period of time if you want to see results.
Some intermittent fasting methods require you to work out and do some strength training. This will help you burn the body fat and tone your muscles. While it’s not a requirement to count the calories, it can come in handy when you notice that there are no changes in your weight.
Conclusion: Intermittent fasting does not limit your food intake. Instead, it gives you “feeding windows” where you can maximize the health benefits from the food you eat.
Intermittent fasting will help you lose weight because it reduces your daily calorie consumption. It’s not a weight loss method that everyone can apply because at some point they’ll struggle with the concept of fasting. For people who choose to commit to the program however, this method can be highly beneficial.