Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that Intermittent Fasting (IF) is safe and incredibly effective, but really no more effective than any other diet. In addition, many people find it difficult to fast.
But a growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention.
IF as a weight loss approach has been around in various forms for ages, but was highly popularized in 2012 by BBC broadcast journalist Dr. Michael Mosley’s TV documentary Eat Fast, Live Longer and book The Fast Diet, followed by journalist Kate Harrison’s book The 5:2 Diet based on her own experience, and subsequently by Dr. Jason Fung’s 2016 bestseller The Obesity Code. IF generated a steady positive buzz as anecdotes of its effectiveness proliferated.
Can Intermittent fasting help weight loss ?
IF makes intuitive sense. The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains (think white flours and rice), are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells don’t use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there.
Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.
Restricting yourself on food seems to be a mandatory step to achieve a perfect physique. But Intermittent Fasting is not a unique or restrictive diet. It does not allow you to lose weight by depriving you of food. On the contrary, its long-term success depends on non-deprivation.
Different forms of Intermittent fasting
There are different forms of intermittent fasting. Few popular ones which are being considered for weight loss are summarised below
1. 5:2 Fasting
This is one of the most popular IF methods. In fact, the book The FastDiet made it mainstream and outlines everything you need to know about this approach. The idea is to eat normally for five days (don’t count calories) and then on the other two eat 500 or 600 calories a day for women and men, respectively. The fasting days are any days of your choosing.
2. Time-Restricted Fasting
With this type of IF, you choose an eating window every day, which should ideally leave a 14 to 16 hour fast. (Due to hormonal concerns, Shemek recommends that women fast for no more than 14 hours daily.) “Fasting promotes autophagy, the natural ‘cellular housekeeping’ process where the body clears debris and other things that stand in the way of the health of mitochondria, which begins when liver glycogen is depleted,” says Shemek. Doing this may help maximize fat cell metabolism and helps optimize insulin function, she says.
3. Overnight Fasting
This approach is the simplest of the bunch and involves fasting for a 12-hour period every day. For example: Choose to stop eating after dinner by 7 p.m. and resume eating at 7 a.m. with breakfast the next morning. Autophagy does still happen at the 12-hour mark, though you’ll get more mild cellular benefits, says Shemek. This is the minimum number of fasting hours she recommends.
6. Alternate-Day Fasting
This approach was popularized by Krista Varady, PhD, a nutrition professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. People might fast every other day, with a fast consisting of 25 per cent of their calorie needs (about 500 calories) and nonfasting days being normal eating days. This is a popular approach to weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting works but is Tough and is not a long term solution!
In truth, calorie restriction is often the key to losing weight – even if the reality is a little more complicated. But this calorie restriction is still badly experienced by our body.
Because we have an essential mechanism, called metabolism. Our metabolism fixes our caloric maintenance. For example, you can have calorie maintenance of 2000 calories. If you consume this number of calories, you will theoretically neither lose weight nor gain weight. Your body will absorb what it needs energy to function. Because metabolism is just that: the amount of energy we need for everything to work well in our collection, eating fries and coke is not viable for good health.
Eating healthy is the key to meeting our energy needs while staying healthy. Our body needs certain essential nutrients that only an ancestral diet can provide. If you follow Intermittent fasting, your body will start to draw on its fat reserve to maintain the energy supply necessary for your body’s function.
However, in the case of a diet, this calorie deprivation is almost always too high, and you know what? Intermittent fasting has some sort of impact on our brain. Yes, the Impact involves that it makes the brain panic! Such a condition directly lowers our metabolism. And that’s why Intermittent Fasting fails. They will permanently disturb our metabolism since our body tries to build for survival. If you eat less, it’s going to want to store all the more. So when the diet stops, you usually eat, and you immediately resume the lost weight (if you have lost it). Let’s chalk down the probable reasons:
- Caloric maintenance is (very) low,
- Your intakes too high in comparison,
- Your brain orders storage (fear of the next restriction).
Metabolism is a reasonably complicated subject.
Adopt a simple form of intermittent fasting to gain from its benefit also and not make it too hard on your life. Limit the hours of the day when you eat, and for best effect, make it earlier in the day (between 7 am to 3 pm, or even 10 am to 6 pm, but definitely not in the evening before bed).
Or even better, you can adopt a new, healthy balanced diet adapted to intermittent fasting to get the benefit of both the worlds. And that is what we also strongly recommend. In addition, you can start video call yoga classes or even video call fitness program to lose your weight under the supervision of an expert. Yoga and fitness program have promising benefits to your health.