How Intermittent Fasting Helps in Weight Loss?
Intermittent Fasting is a topic that is catching the world by storm. A lot of people are doing it. For some reason, people think of it as a magic way to get skinny or to get rid of extra fat, or to get in the right shape. There are certainly other reasons but for the most part, people do intermittent fasting for weight loss. But does it work? Would it work for you? Before we get into the pros and cons, let’s talk about what intermittent fasting actually is.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Human fasting is not a new concept by any means. Humans have been doing it for millennia. Intermittent fasting is just a rebranding of something that we have already been doing. Our bodies enter a fasting state every time we’re asleep. Some people do intermittent fasting and do not even know it. I mean there’s plenty of times when people have a stressful shift at work or a difficult job in the hospital, where they don’t have time to eat breakfast. That’s a form of intermittent fasting. And our bodies are totally capable of handling this. So what intermittent fasting actually is? Basically, intermittent fasting involves abstaining from any caloric food or beverage for a designated period of time.
Now I know what you’re thinking. I don’t want to starve myself for health benefits. Intermittent fasting is not starving. When you are fasting, your body is using stored nutrients and stored energy forms in order to make your body continue to function. When you’re starving, you’ve run out of those energy sources and are breaking down vital tissues like organs to get that same energy.
Which Type of Intermittent Fasting is Best?
There are many different ways to go about going on one of these diets.
- The 16/8 diet, which is not eating during 16 hours of the day.
- Alternate day fasting where you eat one day, fast the other day.
- 5:2 where two days of the week that you’re fasting.
These different types of intermittent fasting not only makes it confusing for you. But that also makes it very difficult to do research on it to find out how effective it truly is. Because if there are multiple ways to do it, we have to be able to test each one of those ways. There’s no hard and fast rule saying that this is the correct way of doing it. So, if you really wanna do it you have to try and decide which one works best for you. Because it works differently for every individual.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
You may be wondering how is IF beneficial to me? There’s been a lot of proposed health benefits. Many of them have been proven within animal studies or lab models which is not the same thing as being proven in a human model. But they are very promising. Now, those benefits include increased mental sharpness, a favorable hormonal profile, weight loss, decreases of inflammation within the body, decreases of certain diseases within the body.
How Intermittent Fasting Works?
Next, let’s talk about what happens in the body during a fasted state. So when you fast your body is not getting any energy from food which will ultimately cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to naturally decline. And insulin is often regarded as the fat-storing hormone. However, your body still needs fuel to function and it’s therefore going to resort to other forms of energy. So first the body will use up all of its stored glucose after that the body begins to break down fat stores and use fat for energy. Which is essentially what is involved when we talk about ketosis.
How Intermittent Fasting Helps in Weight Loss?
So proponents of intermittent fasting suggest that one of the main benefits of fasting is that it can help you in weight loss by shedding body fat. And ultimately of course lose weight. The reason is that by keeping our insulin levels low for longer periods of time we’re reducing those fat storage opportunities. And that alone will help you lose weight.
Next, because you’re skipping meals or you’re even going days without eating meals. It is very likely that when you look throughout the week, you’ll be eating fewer calories. Probably because during eight hours you’ll eat less than you would if you were eating during 16 hours. And also for longer fasts we are switching to utilize our fat stores for fuel. So, by decreasing the total number of calories you eat and by preventing fat storage, intermittent fasting might help you lose weight. But this is not a good idea for long-term weight. I’ll tell you why just keep reading.
Is intermittent fasting good?
We know that chronic stress is not good for the body. The body is just not meant to be chronically stressed out. But did you know that mild stress can benefit the body in a number of ways? Intermittent fasting is really a form acute, short-term, mild stress. This type of acute, short-term stress is really good for the body.
Let’s take exercise for example. Exercise is a form of acute, mild stress. What happens after exercise? We have benefits for the brain, we have benefits for weight loss, we have benefits for disease prevention. Now similarly, when you stress your body through intermittent fasting, there are some benefits. More autophagy, which is the removal of cellular waste, more production of chemicals which protect your brain. And a favorable hormonal profile.
Is Intermittent Fasting Bad?
Now, let’s talk about some of the shortcoming of intermittent fasting.
- Primarily, there’s not enough guidance of what you should eat. We don’t know how many calories, we don’t know what foods to eat on the days or times that you actually are eating.
- Second, we don’t know which form of intermittent fasting is the best.
- Third, there are some side effects when you are fasting that people do experience: headaches, mental fog, heartburn. These things do exist, it’s not totally harmless.
- Four, we don’t know the consequences of following an intermittent fasting diet long term. Most, if not all, of the studies are done on the short term.
If you are eating a very unhealthy diet and then make a change you’re definitely gonna see a benefit But now does this benefit still hold up one, two, three, 10 years down the line? We don’t know that yet when it comes to IF. And five, it’s not easy for everybody to fight off those cravings on fasting days.
All right, my final take on intermittent fasting, I think it is a great concept with some really promising medical research behind it. I think that if you can skip a meal, you can skip a breakfast here and there, you’re gonna see some benefits. Does that mean you should go on this very rigid diet where you’re doing the five and two or 16 and eight? I don’t think we should quite make this a religious, rigorous part of our everyday life because we don’t know the long term consequences of it. But in a society that is prone to overeating, a fasting day won’t hurt and will probably help.
Stay happy and healthy!