Skipping meals or fasting to save calories is a sure-fire way to tank your metabolism and sabotage your weight loss plan because of the effects it has on your body.
If you however squeeze those food-free time periods to set intervals, it can make you lose weight significantly.
That is the principle behind the diet method known as intermittent fasting. This principle is backed up by scientific research and suggests that doing this is just as effective as daily calorie restriction at improving body composition. Furthermore, intermittent fasting doesn’t involve any calorie counting, and may help you suppress hunger better than going on a diet.
What is intermittent fasting?
It simply means a period of eating followed by a period of not eating, repeated over time. There are three types of intermittent fasting: whole-day (5-6 feed days, 1-2 nonconsecutive fast days, repeated every week), alternate-day (1 feed day, 1 fast day, repeated), and time-restricted feeding (4-8 feed hours, 16-20 feed hours, repeated daily).
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
The main benefit is weight loss. Various studies have confirmed that any form of it will help reduce weight and improve body composition. A study published in 2017 in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that after dieting for one year, people lost about 5–6% of their bodyweight whether they restricted their calories or tried alternate-day fasting.
Furthermore, fasting intermittently can help you retain muscle mass. When people lose weight normally, about 75% is fat loss and 25% is muscle mass. But with fasting, the ratio actually changes so that 90% of weight loss is fat and 10% is muscle.
Due to the fact that you retain your muscle, your metabolism won’t drop the way it might with calorie-restricted weight loss. As a matter of fact, it actually boosts your metabolism. If you’re fasting, your body views it as a mild stress, making your resting metabolism higher.
What Are The Negative Effects?
There are really no downside as it is quite safe, regarding how it affects your health and biomarkers. It also doesn’t lead to eating disorders. People are advised to fast all the time, before surgery, for blood work, for ultrasounds and nothing happens afterwards. There are certainly no risks with extended fasting.
The major drawback is irritability as you may experience it during the first five fast days on alternate-day and whole-day fasting are difficult for many people. Irritability will usually subside after the first week or so.
Is It Meant For You?
Anyone can try Intermittent fasting. If you are however taking certain medications such as those for diabetes, it is best to talk to your doctor first. Remember that it is an eating plan, not a diet. You can use it as a short-term plan to shed some weight but it is best to adopt it as a lifestyle or alternate feeding plan.
If you however feel like it doesn’t work well with you, you don’t have to do it as there are other things you can do to shed your weight. Ultimately, if you’re trying to lose fat or maintain a low body-fat percentage, the most important question is whether intermittent fasting is an easier eating strategy than counting calories.
How Will I feel?
The first two weeks will be the hardest but it becomes easier the more you do it. You may experience side effects such as lack of concentration, irritability, headaches, constipation, and you may feel hungry, but you shouldn’t feel weak. I you can cope well for the first two weeks, you’d ace it.
If you can’t decide which strategy is best for you between whole-day fasting, alternate-day fasting, and time-restricted feeding, try each for a month. Know that you can still work out but ensure that you stick to low-intensity work and try to do it towards the start of your fast window rather than the end when the glucose stored in your body are totally depleted.