Updated: Mar 8
Intermittent Fasting for fat loss has been all the rage over the past few years.
But does it really work?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting involves restricting your eating to a certain window of time.
There are many variations of Intermittent Fasting. For example, there is a version where you may choose to eat normally for several days and then completely fast for the next 24-48 hours. In another version you may alternate eating and fasting days. Some people even consider Intermittent Fasting just skipping random meals throughout the day. But the most popular variation of Intermittent Fasting, and often the most efficient, involves creating a fasting window of anywhere from 10-18 hours.
Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss
A study by the journal Cell Metabolism found that 10 hour time restricted eating reduces weight. One reason this happens is because Intermittent Fasting can be a natural way to reduce calories without tracking. In fact, this study found that the participants naturally reduced their calorie intake by about 20% without having an active calorie restriction placed on them.
However, if you’re like me, Intermittent Fasting can have the opposite effect. Knowing that I had only a limited time to eat, I would, for lack of a better term, stuff my face to ensure that I wouldn’t be hungry during my fasting period.
Still, a study in the Obesity journal found that Intermittent Fasting can turn on the “metabolic switch” that enables us to use fat for fuel instead of storage. According to the same study, you can experience these benefits with as little as a 12 hour fast. That can mean having your first meal at 8 am and finishing your last meal by 8 pm.
My Approach To Intermittent Fasting
Cleary, there is some merit to Intermittent Fasting for fat loss. It’s even proven to be beneficial for brain health and for reducing risk of disease. I mean it makes sense – eating 3 meals a day, having a massive breakfast, and having 24/7 access to food are relatively new phenomena.
But we also live in a world where much of the food we eat is lacking nutritionally when compared to even 40 years ago. We need to be more calculated when it comes to the kinds of foods we eat to ensure that we’re getting the most “bang for our buck,” so to speak. Eating a diet high in sugar, low in protein, high in saturated fats or low in healthy fats can wreak havoc on our bodies, no matter the time of day we eat.
You are WHAT you eat, not just WHEN you eat.
That being said, I don’t normally advise jumping into a restricted eating or fasting window immediately.
Focus on your food quality first. I especially recommend a diet that is higher in protein, as this can help to improve body composition and overall health.
Additionally, a lot of the individuals I work with are actually under-eating. By restricting their time window, it would be much harder for them to increase their calorie intake and repair their metabolism. If you find this to be the case, I don’t recommend Intermittent Fasting just yet.
Women, too, need to be especially aware of their fasting periods. Studies have shown that Intermittent Fasting can disrupt hormone regulation and affect reproduction. Female hormones fluctuate throughout the month and periods of fasting add stress, causing cortisol levels to rise unnecessarily. Put simply, if you’re experiencing stress, brain fog, inability to conceive, or you just don’t feel your best while Intermittent Fasting, it would be best to increase your fasting window or discontinue it all together until symptoms improve.
If you are interested in trying Intermittent Fasting, a 10-12 hour eating window seems to be the most effective, most sustainable, and safest approach for most people. Men can even fast up to 16 hours a day.
Should You Try Intermittent Fasting For Fat Loss?
Whatever method you choose, DO NOT NEGLECT FOOD QUALITY. Eat your macro and micro nutrients. Eat colorful foods. Drink enough water.
Remember, you are WHAT you eat, not just WHEN you eat.
Intermittent Fasting as a fad has made individuals forget the basics. When you eat the right foods, the rest generally falls into place. If you want an extra boost, however, incorporating some variation of Intermittent Fasting may work for you too.
If you’re not sure where to begin with your diet, I’d love to help! Apply for your free consultation here.