Intermittent fasting is a proven strategy to help you lose weight. According to the first study results, it could also prevent some diseases. But is it sustainable?
Here’s how intermittent fasting works
In contrast to classic fasting, interval fasting involves eating for specific periods of time, followed by not eating for certain periods of time. The most popular fasting method is the 16:8 diet.
After a 16-hour fast, you can eat within a time window of 8 hours. For example, if you eat nothing after 6 p.m. in the evening, you can use the nightly meal break as fasting and then eat breakfast at 10 a.m. in the morning.
Another very common method is the 5:2 fast. You eat normally 5 days a week, and you severely restrict your food intake on two days of the week. Women are allowed to consume only 500 calories on each of these 2 days; men 600 calories. You can drink plenty of water and unsweetened tea. Energy sources such as bread, pasta and rice are forbidden on fasting days.
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Why does intermittent fasting work?
The longer meal breaks train our body to improve our metabolism. We are accustomed to food being available anytime, anywhere. But our ancestors feasted when there was food and starved when there was not. Our body is therefore adapted to periods of hunger, when our energy reserves must be consumed.
The effect of intermittent fasting is metabolic training, in which muscle mass is not broken down and the metabolism is not throttled. You lose weight and don’t experience the yo-yo effect.
The lower meal frequency also boosts fat burning so effectively that often the fat in your problem area, whatever that might be, is also melted. Even slim people who only want to fine-tune their figure can see a benefit.
What the studies show on Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting appears to offer some significant health benefits. While there is limited data available, initial studies suggest intermittent fasting has positive effects on the cardiovascular system and that weight loss can result.
In a 12-week study at the University of Illinois with 32 subjects, an average weight loss of 11 pounds was achieved with the alternate day fasting (ADF) method (eating on one day, fasting on the other). Both overweight and normal weight subjects benefited.
Subjects also showed an improvement for inflammatory markers and parameters of lipid metabolism in the fasting group. This supports the finding of a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases.
In animal experiments, a life-prolonging effect was found in mice for ADF interval fasting. This method trained the mice’s metabolism so effectively that the onset of type 2 diabetes could be prevented.
Researchers believe these results can be extrapolated to humans. And they’re continuing
to explore the preventive effects in the development of neurological diseases such as
Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Who should NOT do intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is generally not suitable for people with previous illnesses. Also pregnant women, breastfeeding women and women who want to have children in the near future should not do intermittent fasting.
If you don’t have any of these disqualifications, you also should consider whether intermittent fasting fits into your life at this time. If you’re currently under significant pressure and feel stressed by your everyday life, you don’t want to take on the additional stress that can be caused by fasting. If you have a physically demanding job, or one that requires high alertness at all times (think air traffic controller or high-rise steel worker), you may not be a fit for this dieting strategy.
Fasting is just one weight-loss method. It’s certainly not right for everyone. You can also lose weight through a healthy change in diet. Vida180 has plans developed around eating 3 main meals and 2 snacks daily to provide the body with everything it needs for nutrition, sustainable energy and good health. Start now with your free diet analysis!
In order for intermittent fasting to work, follow these tips;
- Make sure not to eat more than usual on your eating days.
- Take a break of about four hours between meals. Eating in between meals leads to an unwanted release of insulin and an increase in blood sugar, which stops fat burning.
- Gradually approach the fasting period by extending the phase of food breaks from week to week.
- Drink water and unsweetened tea to stave off hunger pangs.
- If you choose the 5:2 method, select fasting days when you can be relaxed and have a less demanding schedule.
How strong is your willpower?
While intermittent fasting may seem promising for weight loss and disease prevention, it is a fasting method. Most people find it’s unsustainable. Eventually, their resolve weakens, their motivation fades and they revert to their old habits.
As with any weight loss method, there are claims you should question. With intermittent fasting, people like to believe that on your eating days, it’s okay to eat practically anything you like. However, intermittent fasting only works if you don’t eat more than usual during the food intake phases. Also, you should adhere to the rules of healthy eating. Foods like pizza, burgers, chocolate and sweets are taboo.
The fact that you are allowed to eat in between fasting days means you won’t starve. But for many people, not eating and restricting the frequency of meals is simply too hard.
What Vida180 says about intermittent fasting
At Vida180, we prefer lots of small meals. These help prevent food cravings and extreme hunger, which often leads to overeating.
Whatever method you choose for your weight-loss journey, be sure it fits into your lifestyle. You want a method you can stick to.
If you find it difficult to cope with long breaks in eating and a low frequency of meals, you can follow a meal plan that allows you to eat nutritious foods in healthy portions on a regular schedule. You’ll lose weight, but at a slow, steady pace. Along the way, you’ll learn to make permanent changes in your eating habits and lifestyle that will help you maintain your weight loss.
Take a look around Vida180. You’ll see we offer you an extensive collection of healthy, low-calorie, weight loss recipes. Let us design a meal plan that’s tailored to your specific needs and lifestyle. Start your free diet analysis now!