Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

Intermittent Fasting to lose weight

Intermittent fasting is a popular fasting technique. Fasting has existed for centuries as a religious practice, a food rationing technique for wars and pandemics and also for medical practice. Today, it is prominent as a weight loss tool.

It was the most popular weight loss method searched and used in 2019, according to Google statistics. Within ten years its search results have increased by 10,000%. Although intermittent fasting promotes many other health benefits, weight loss is number one.

Intermittent fasting is not a diet. Instead, it is an eating routine that dictates when you eat and do not eat. You may be questioning how exactly an eating pattern can result in weight loss results. That is exactly what this article will cover. 

This guide will share more on what intermittent fasting is and if it really works for weight loss:

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is often abbreviated to IF. It is a fasting method as opposed to a diet. Most people use intermittent fasting as a part of their lifestyle instead of using it just for short term effect. The reason being due to the incredible results it can offer. 

Intermittent fasting is not similar to other dietary methods. In that to aid weight loss, it does not restrict calories, particular foods or provide an exercise plan. Instead, it works by restricting when you eat. It is a timed approach to your diet. It includes eating cycles and eating windows. This means that fasting will occur during certain hours or on certain days. Then, for the non-fasting period a person can eat normal foods. 

There are many intermittent fasting methods. The most popular and effective for weight loss is 16:8. This method involves fasting for 16 hours a day and the remaining 8 hours indicates the eating window. During this window it is recommended to consume well balanced, nutritious meals. This is to maximise results and ensure the body is attaining all the essential nutrients it needs to function properly.

Other methods include alternate day fasting, 5:2, spontaneous meal skipping and water fasts. All of which promote weight loss. Each method is different and involves different eating patterns. This means there is one for everyone, if intermittent fasting is safe for you and your current health status. 

We will share more later on who intermittent fasting is and is not safe for. It is important to be aware that IF is not manageable by everyone due to certain risks and side effects it can pose. But, it is safe and effective for those who wish to reap the benefits.

Read more : The 14 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Now, let’s uncover the real results of intermittent fasting for weight loss:

Does Intermittent Fasting really work for weight loss?

Intermittent fasting is without a doubt an effective way to lose weight. We may as well reveal that. Although, there are many results and research you may want to acknowledge before believing it’s all true. 

Most studies conclude that intermittent fasting can offer weight loss to every participant. You may be wondering how and why it works for weight loss. Plus, you may question if and how it is better than other weight loss methods.

First, it can help you eat less calories and less food in general. Restricting how much you eat is a natural and effective way to lose weight. 

According to studies, intermittent fasting may reduce body weight by up to 8%. The study also saw a decrease in body fat by up to 16% over 3 to 12 weeks. 

Intermittent fasting can kick start fat burning hormones. This hormone is norepinephrine, which excels metabolic rates and increases fat burning. The hormone works by speeding up energy expenditure. The quicker release of energy allows your body to burn glucose as well as fat. When the body runs out of glucose, it turns to fat for fuel. This is known as the ketosis process, which is a key driver of weight loss in intermittent fasting.

Ketosis is a metabolic state which is natural for the body to be in. Typically it occurs on a low carb diet. But, it also kickstarts when the body is low on carbs, which is what happens during fasting. Ketosis is where the body runs out of glucose and turns to fat for its fuel source. This process produces ketones out of fat, which is used for energy.

Studies report that participants of ketosis inducing diets can lose 2.2 times more weight than those partaking in calorie restricting diets. It encourages weight loss through the fat burning which occurs during ketosis. Also, when a person adapts to an intermittent fasting method and manages without food during an extended period, they can control their hunger better. This results in them eating less and burning more fat.

When paired with a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting can speed up ketosis. Which amplifies weight loss. Both diet methods promote ketosis. Thus, the two together excel weight loss further.

Intermittent fasting also shows positive results for gaining leaner muscles. This is due to calorie restriction. Body composition improvements are a huge benefit of fasting.

Yet to achieve the best results, you need to put in as much work as the fast does. To lose the most weight and achieve your goals, you must maintain a healthy lifestyle. Without exercise and healthy eating, the results will be less effective. 

Many assume that exercising during fasting is not safe or effective. Let’s find out more:

How To Maximise Weight Loss Results with Intermittent Fasting

Maximising your weight loss results can be simple with a few simple steps. Combining all steps together will offer maximum results. First you need to choose your method. This will then allow you to create a schedule, plan and begin your journey.

1 – Choose Your Method

Intermittent fasting methods are all different and involve their own individual rules. All involve their own fasting and eating windows. Some involve strict calorie control. Others involve regular eating with cycles of fasting. Fasting windows can vary depending on the method and the person. Below are some of the most popular methods for weight loss:

  1. The Time Restricted Eating Method – 16:8
  2. The Twice A Week Method – 5:2
  3. The 24 Hour/Water Method – Eat Stop Eat
  4. The Spontaneous Method: Meal Skipping
  5. The Every Other Day Method: Alternate Day Fasting

Learn more about it in our Intermittent Fasting Complete Guide

Most methods that involve restricting calorie intake result in weight loss. But, it is important to not overcompensate for the loss of calories during windows of eating. Otherwise, the results may not be as evident.

Many choose the time restricted eating method of 16:8 as intermittent fasting. This is because it concludes to be the most effective and beneficial for weight loss and more.

When you know how to fast for your chosen method, it is time to work out a schedule.

2 – Working Out A Schedule

Your schedule should align with your lifestyle. It will also depend on the chosen method of intermittent fasting.

Let us make a scenario. Let’s say you choose the 16:8 method. Your job does not coincide with the 16 hour fast window. You will have to prioritise. If you start work early and need to have breakfast at home, then begin your fast early. 

Your schedule should revolve around your lifestyle and priorities. Each week may involve a different fasting schedule because of that. If so, you should plan ahead to ensure you successfully fast to maximise results.

If one week you cannot fast, then don’t. The good thing about intermittent fasting is that  you can start and stop when you need to. 

But, starting and stopping often will not offer maximum results.

Once your schedule is final, the next step is to put a plan into place. This involves everything from meal planning to exercising.

3 – Putting A Plan In Place

Planning your fasting routine is a great success tool. Once you’ve chosen your fasting method and found a schedule that fits, a plan will allow it all to work together. 

Like any dieting technique, meal and exercises plans help. They encourage you to stay on track. 

Like scheduling, planning is also specific to the fasting method you choose. In general, there are no specific meal plans for intermittent fasting. Instead, you should eat nutritious balanced meals. Avoid snacking or overeating to achieve the best results.

It is safe to exercise whilst fasting. Whether that be after eating or during the fast. Some like to exercise on an empty stomach. This can excel fat burning. Others like to exercise after eating. Either plan is fine and safe. It depends on the person. 

Exercising alongside fasting is also very beneficial. It can increase weight loss and improves the mental attitude towards fasting. 

4 – Exercising with Intermittent Fasting

Studies show that exercising whilst fasting burns more off left over glycogen. Glycogen is glucose. When glycogen runs out, fat is then the substitute as an energy source. Thus suggesting that exercising whilst fasting burns fat better than exercising after eating

You replace your glucose when eating. This means that the energy used during a workout is the energy from the glucose in the food. 

Working out whilst fasting is dependent on the individual. Some may prefer to work out before beginning the fast. This is because people like to work off their food and feel they have the most energy. But, some prefer to work out on an empty stomach. Depending on the person, this preference will change. 

There is not enough evidence to state if exercising whilst fasting burns more fat. Yet, it can burn off excess fat when the body runs out of glycogen. This suggests fasting does offer great fat burning benefits. 

Another preference is the type of workout a person wishes to do whilst fasting. If a person does choose to exercise whilst fasting, it can range from HIIT to muscle gaining. Again, this depends on preference and current energy levels. Strength works out and requires more energy and carbohydrates. Whilst high intensity interval training (HIIT) requires less carbohydrates and energy, which is ideal for intermittent fasting.

Depending on your preferred time and type of workout, a person should eat the right foods to fuel the energy. Without energy your body will feel tired and overworked. Always ensure you do not workout if your body cannot manage it. Fasting can lead to fatigue, which can worsen with exercise.

Regardless of time or type of exercise, you should always hydrate yourself. Drinking plenty of water is beneficial in many ways during fasting. It can curb cravings and control appetite. Also, hydration can lead to better workouts and less fatigue. Drinking more water than usual whilst fasting is common. And, also a good thing to keep up to reduce tiredness and fatigue.

A downside to exercising whilst fasting is that the body may become too tired. Fatigue is a common side effect of fasting. Working out on a small amount of remaining energy may overwork your body. Your body depletes itself of energy, which could end up slowing your metabolism.

A workout should be dependent on your energy levels at the time. Advice to take is to not exercise if you already feel tired.

You may wonder if intermittent fasting works without exercise?

Intermittent fasting is not a magic pill. It cannot offer maximum results without exercise. 

Yet, intermittent fasting may still offer weight loss benefits. Even without exercise, it can improve results. For example, if your goal is to burn fat, exercise can excel that. Exercising alongside fasting can increase results and help you achieve your goal quicker. 

Intermittent fasting is often a method for achieving leaner muscles. This is due to the ketosis process encouraging your body to burn fat. Burning fat will result in leaner muscles. Without exercise, the body can lose fat as much as it can muscle. Thus, muscle mass may deteriorate without the right exercise.

Yet, intermittent fasting can still work without exercise for other health benefits. This is because the other health benefits do not need exercise to maximise results.

For example, intermittent fasting can reduce blood sugar levels. It can also improve blood pressure and triglycerides. These health benefits do not need exercise to occur. 

Some existing health conditions may require you to avoid exercise. Thus, means those that can partake in fasting but not exercise can still reap its benefits. 

There is no right or wrong answer for this. It depends what a person is using fasting for to say whether exercise is necessary. If a person is seeking weight loss then exercise can improve results. For other health benefits, fasting does not need exercise to maximise results. 

With a plan in place, it is time to begin your journey. Before doing so, you should acknowledge the risks and side effects of intermittent fasting:

Risks and Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting

With all fasting methods come a few side effects and risks that you should be aware of. For the most part, intermittent fasting has very few risks and is more often than not, safe. 

Most side effects are temporary. But, if side effects are consistent, then a person should stop fasting. It is advised to seek medical help if side effects worsen. 

The side effects to look of for include:

  • Weakness
  • Hunger
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Dehydration

As you may be aware, intermittent fasting is not for or not safe for everyone. This is due to the restriction of food for an extended period of time. There are a select few who need to avoid or be cautious of intermittent fasting. Avoiding fasting if you are a risk patient is for your own good health. Those who need to avoid or seek medical advice first include:

  • Diabetic patients
  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding women
  • Anyone with past or previous eating disorders
  • Lower blood pressure patients
  • Underweight individuals
  • Women with amenorrhea 

If you are unsure whether or not intermittent fasting for weight loss is safe for you, seek medical advice first. If you avoid this advice, it may be detrimental to your health and safety.

Keep in mind the risks and side effects, as the following section on pro and cons will help you weigh up if intermittent fasting is for you:

Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

Like any weight loss method, there are pros and cons to intermittent fasting. Most weight loss techniques come with similar pros and cons. Those being that they are great for results, pose some risks and are not ideal for everyone. So let’s take a look at the positives and negatives for IF and weight loss. 

PROSCONS
Impressive weight loss resultsMay experience mild side effects – nausea, weakness, headaches, low concentration, irritability 
Many can achieve results without exerciseFasting is not ideal for everyone 
Exercise maximises weight loss results
It is safe
Easily sustainable 
It is an eating routine as opposed to a diet, therefore results can be longer term

With those pros and cons in mind, let’s take a look at the most frequently asked questions on intermittent fasting results for weight loss:

FAQ

Which intermittent fasting method is best for weight loss?

Research shows that the alternate day fasting method is also very effective for weight loss. But, many participants report that it is not as sustainable as 16:8. The 16:8 method is more suitable to most people’s everyday lifestyle and routine. It fits better and makes it easier to stick to.

16:8 is in fact the most popular and scientifically proven effective method for weight loss. The restricted 8 hour eating window generally helps people reduce calorie intake, which results in losing weight,

Is 14 hours enough for intermittent fasting?

A 14 hour fast is long enough to see results. This is a part of the ‘time restricted eating’ fasting method, like 16:8. 14 hours of fasting simply means your eating window is the remaining 10 hours. 

During this eating window, ensure to not overeat. When you do eat, stick to balanced highly nutritious meals as this will help you maintain a healthy diet.

How do I stop intermittent fasting without gaining weight?

If you wish to stop intermittent fasting because you have hit your target weight and no longer wish to pursue fasting, you can. But, you need to be careful. If you instantly jump back into your normal diet and eating routine, weight gain can happen fast. The best advice to take is to avoid eating late and eat during daylight hours. Making a habit of counting calories and eating at the right times can avoid weight gain.

With these FAQs and scientific research results, you now have an in-depth understanding on the weight loss benefit of intermittent fasting. Let us share our final thought:

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting has shown incredible results for weight loss. In many cases, it has proven to exceed other diets for weight loss and fat burning results. 

With the right knowledge and tips to follow, anyone can achieve weight loss with intermittent fasting methods. Putting a plan in place, choosing the right method for you and integrating exercise can excel results and also result in a healthier lifestyle. Which is all easily achievable. 

When combined with other diets, like keto, results can be even greater. Although it does not work for everyone, intermittent fasting is a safe and effective method for weight loss.

If you have any other questions or have any comments, please share them with us.

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