What Is Intermittent Fasting, and Does It Help With Weight Loss?
Intermittent fasting has been a buzzy way to lose weight for years, with devotees swearing that eating during a certain window of time has helped them reach their goals and keep excess weight off. But Matheny points out that intermittent fasting is often easier for most people to follow. “If it’s a lot easier and you get the same results, great,” he says. “Simplicity in health and fitness is the number one thing for people. Worrying about portion control is hard.”
Intermittent Fasting vs. Calorie Counting for Weight Loss
Experts say it’s important to look at your lifestyle and eating habits to see how each type of diet may fit into your life. “What we see in the studies is that people lose the same amount of weight on average in both groups,” Lin says. “However, there are lots of variations in how each person reacts to their diet.”
Cording suggests looking at past experiences you’ve had with weight loss efforts and thinking about what has and hasn’t worked for you. “That will give you clues on what may or may not work for you in the future,” she says. “If you’ve tried calorie counting in the past and it made you feel obsessive, it’s not a good approach for you. If you want the freedom to not count calories but want some sort of structure, intermittent fasting may be a good fit.”
How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight and you’re unsure of how to start, Lin recommends meeting with a registered dietitian. They can help you figure out your weight loss goals and how to meet them on a personalized level.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is when you don’t eat for certain periods of time a day, per the Mayo Clinic. There are different methods for intermittent fasting, but the overarching concept is the same: You can eat pretty much whatever you want, but only during specific hours of the day.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Essentially, when the body goes hours without food, it exhausts its sugar stores and begins burning fat for energy, a concept research refers to as metabolic switching. It might sound wacky to some, but there’s evidence that intermittent fasting does work for weight loss. One 2016 study in the Journal of Translational Medicine found that people who practiced it for eight weeks lost more body fat than those in the control group. Another 2018 study from the journal Obesity showed that it leads to greater weight and fat loss compared to following a regular diet with calorie restrictions.
Still, it’s important to note that the results of intermittent fasting are no better than a calorie-restricting diet. A 2017 study in JAMA showed that alternate-day fasting doesn’t produce superior benefits for weight loss than daily calorie restriction, and similar conclusions were drawn in a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. So if you don’t think fasting is right for you, don’t push it.
Intermittent Fasting Plans
The most famous is 16:8 Method: You restrict eating to only eight hours in the middle of the day and fast for the remaining 16 hours. During your eating period, it’s important to fuel up on a variety of healthy foods, including vegetables and fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, and nuts. These foods will help keep you satisfied and prevent cravings during your fast.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
– You’ll stick to one schedule.
– You’ll savor your meals.
– You’ll kick cravings for sugary, fatty foods.
– You get an inside-out anti-aging boost.
– Fasting might help those with pre-diabetes manage blood sugars.
– You may bust through a weight loss plateau.
– You’ll reduce your risk of cancer