The pros and cons of following a structured intermittent fasting plan.
The jury is no longer out, intermittent fasting (IF) can be a safe, healthy, and viable way to lose weight and address a variety of health-related issues.
For those not familiar with IF, it’s an eating plan that focuses on “when to eat” in lieu of “what to eat.” So, rather than dictate which foods to consume or avoid, IF instead prescribes an eating approach that alternates between periods of eating and fasting.
While there are several different types of intermittent fasts, one of the more popular approaches to IF is known as the 5:2 diet in which individuals significantly cuts back their calorie intake to no more than 500-600 calories a day, twice a week, on non-consecutive days. For the other 5 days of the week, it’s eating as usual. Other IF diets include complete fasts during which no food is consumed for a specific length of time (commonly 16-24 hours), also twice per week.
No matter which specific IF plan is followed, the results can be impressive for those seeking to optimize their health, lose weight, and lower their body fat percentage. Here are some of the most common benefits of periodically implementing an IF plan into your diet…
IF Can be a Highly Potent Tool for Weight Loss
Losing excess weight is the primary reason people consider some type of IF plan(1). By reducing the number of meals consumed, IF frequently leads to an automatic reduction in calorie intake, resulting in greater weight loss.
Another way IF facilitates weight loss is by eliciting a change in hormone levels. Due to hormonal changes, short-term fasting may significantly increase your resting metabolic rate(2). In addition, the changes in hormone levels allow for stored body fat to be more accessible for needed energy when food is not available.
By taking in less calories and burning more calories, IF delivers the ultimate, one-two weight loss punch by adjusting both sides of the calorie equation.
Scientific studies continue to support the efficacy of IF for the purpose of greater weight loss. In one study, IF proved to be a highly effective component in the reduction of body fat and body weight for obese women. The study also supported the added benefit of IF lowering the risk of coronary heart disease among this same population.
In another study of the effects of IF on body composition, the restricted eating approach demonstrated impressive weight loss results over 12 to 24 weeks(4). Here, participants were able to reduce body weight by 3% to 9% during this time period. Compared to a majority of weight loss studies, these numbers demonstrate significantly greater results.
These successful weight loss results were achieved both by limiting meals during the week and by avoiding binging or taking in excess calories during eating periods. It’s a simple formula, but one that must be strictly adhered to for optimal weight loss and fat loss results.