If this is your first time trying intermittent fasting, the odds are that at least one of your goals is weight loss.
The odds also are that you have questions, such as:
- What is intermittent fasting for weight loss?
- Does intermittent fasting work for weight loss?
- How effective is intermittent fasting for weight loss?
- How safe is fasting for weight loss?
If you want a more robust guide to intermittent fasting and how it can help you lose weight, explore the articles below. In the meantime, here’s a quick overview of what you need to know about weight loss through intermittent fasting.
How Intermittent Fasting Works for Weight Loss
One of the perks of intermittent fasting as opposed to traditional dieting is that you don’t have to limit what you eat, count calories or go hungry. There are no “good” or “bad” foods and, provided that you stay within your eating window, you can eat whatever you want.
So how does this help you lose weight? There are several interconnected factors involved:
IF limits calories naturally. It’s very easy to casually eat (and drink!) more calories than you realize, especially if you have a snacking habit or tend to eat on the go. Having a set eating window limits your opportunities for snacking, and also naturally restricts the amount of food you can consume in a given day.
Intermittent fasting can help you get into ketosis. Ketosis is a physiological state in which your body turns to using fat for its energy needs rather than burning stored glucose (sugar) as it normally would. When you fast for an extended period (such as with the 5:2 diet, alternate-day fasting, or a 16:8 schedule) your body uses up your reserves of stored glucose and is forced to use stored fat for fuel instead.
Fasting decreases the amount of insulin your body produces. You probably know that insulin is the hormone that keeps your blood sugar in check. What you may not know is that insulin also tells your body to begin storing the calories you eat as fat. This means that if your insulin levels are high you’ll pack on more pounds than you would if they were low, and that it’s harder to lose fat you already have.
Intermittent fasting speeds up your metabolism and helps you burn fat. Fasting revs up your resting metabolism — which means that, even when you’re doing nothing, your body will burn more calories than it normally does. It also increases the amounts of adrenaline and noradrenaline in your body, which in turn helps your body burn more fat.
Intermittent Fasting Plans That Work for Weight Loss
There are many different styles of intermittent fasting, from the fairly extreme (alternate-day fasting, OMAD) to the relatively effortless (12:12 or 14:10 schedules) but all have one basic thing in common: you abstain from food (and calorie-containing drinks) for a certain number of hours out of the day (or in the case of alternate-day fasting or the 5:2 diet, days out of the week) and fit all of your eating into the remaining time. It’s really that simple.
Which protocol you choose is a matter of personal choice. Here’s what each fasting protocol is in a nutshell:
- 16:8 schedule: For 16 hours of the day you fast, then fit all of your eating into an 8-hour window. For most people, this simply means doing without breakfast and not snacking after dinner. This is one of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting.
- 14:10 schedule: You fast for 14 hours, and eat during the remaining 10. May be more suitable than other schedules for women or for people who are new to intermittent fasting.
- 5:2 diet: For five days of the week, you eat as you normally would. On the other two, you consume no more than 500 calories if you’re a woman or 600 if you’re a man.
- OMAD: An acronym for One Meal A Day, this is just what it sounds like; you limit yourself to one meal per day. This is one of the most restrictive forms of intermittent fasting. Not recommended for those who are new to fasting.
- Alternate day fasting: Again, this is just what it sounds like; you alternate days of normal eating with days of complete fasting or extreme (500 for women, 600 for men) calorie restriction. Also not recommended for those new to fasting or for women.
The following chapters of our ultimate weight loss guide will explain how weight loss with fasting differs for men and for women, how to do it properly and what results you can achieve.