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Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss, Good Or Bad?

Posted: April 3, 2019

While there are various ways to lose weight, intermittent fasting is the newest entrant on the list. Although intermittent fasting is nothing new for humans since they have been fasting either for religious reasons or due to a scarcity of food or it could be fasting overnight, while we sleep. So even though the term might sound pretty technical, just relax.

Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that involves regular short term fasts. It is considered that intermittent fasting helps in the consumption of fewer calories and also aids in optimizing hormones related to weight gain. Intermittent fasting has gained a lot of popularity among the dieters and here are the three different types of ways in which one does intermittent fasting.

  1. The simplest fasting method 12hours off/12hours on – In this method you eat for 12 hours and fast during the other 12 hours.
  2. The warrior diet 20hoursoff/4hours on – This method basically relies on the principal that our ancestors followed. Since they were busy hunting almost all day they ate during the remaining hours. Hence, the significance of the following method.
  3. The 16/8 method– This method involves skipping breakfast and eating between an 8 hour feeding window period, say 12pm-8pm.
  4. Eatstop-eat method- In this method you need to do one or two fasts each week, which means you end up fasting for almost an entire day. What people usually do during this fast is staying hungry from dinner one day till dinner next day.
  5. The 5:2 method- In this method you need to eat 500-600 calories during any two days of the week and eat normally on rest of the days.

But the catch is, only if you are following the entire procedure properly and not overindulging during the eating phase only then will this type of fasting help you. Various studies state that if done properly it can lead to weight loss, loss of belly fat and reduction of calorie intake.

Which hormones are affected during intermittent fasting?

The fat stored in your body is a mechanism to store energy (calories). However when you are fasting, the body tries to make the existing fat more accessible in order to be used as energy when you aren’t consuming anything.

Here is how your hormones are expected to take a turn:

  • Insulin – Whenever you consume something there is an increase in your insulin levels. During the process of fasting, there is a decrease in insulin levels which in turn facilitates fat burning.
  • Human growth hormone – There is a sharp increase in the levels of HGH when one is fasting and it can help in fat loss and muscle gain.
  • Norepinephrine(noradrenaline) – During the process of fasting, the nervous system sends norepinephrine to the fat cells leading to a breakdown of body fat into fatty acids which can be used for energy later.

In short, short term fasting helps in losing fat faster.

Losing weight and holding on to muscle mass during intermittent fasting-

  • As stated above, intermittent fasting would only work if you stick to it and not overindulge on days when you aren’t fasting. So in a way, you are restricting excess calorie intake and thereby burning body fat and losing weight.
  • Studies indicate that there is 3-8% of reduction in body weight between a span of 3-24weeks.
  • People also lost about 4-7% of their waist circumference indicating a loss in their belly fat percentage as well.
  • Intermittent fasting and its benefits go beyond weight loss. It has numerous health benefits and can even ward off chronic diseases in the long run.
  • Intermittent fasting can help in holding on to muscle mass. This is unlike the crash diets which not only make you drastically thin but also lead to reduction of muscle mass leaving you weak and fatigued.
  • While there is a slight decrease in the muscle mass during intermittent fasting, it does not end up making you feel tired and weak.

Intermittent fasting has its own benefits, however you need to know whether you fall in to the list of people who can do it or you fall in to the category wherein you must not try it.

No doubt that intermittent fasting has its benefits but always remember one size does not fit all.

Who can do intermittent fasting?

  • If you have already done a diet program or have undertaken fasting before.
  • If you exercise regularly
  • If your lifestyle allows you to fast (you do not have erratic working hours or your work doesn’t require travelling)
  • You are single or do not have children
  • Your husband or partner is extremely supportive or accompanies you during such fasts.

Who should not do intermittent fasting?

While a load has been spoken about the benefits of intermittent fasting, here are people who should not undertake intermittent fasting.

  • If you are pregnant
  • If you have suffered from an eating disorder
  • If you suffer from chronic stress
  • If you do not get ample sleep or you are sleep deprived
  • If you have never exercised or gone on a diet program before
  • If you suffer from food sensitivities
  • If you have a weak gut or gut related issues
  • If you suffer from type 1 diabetes
  • If you suffer from blood pressure or heart disease, especially those who are on medications.

In a nutshell,

Intermittent fasting when done properly can help extend life, manage body weight, reduce the risk of cancer, help us gain muscle mass, control blood lipid levels, reduce the risk of coronary disease and in some cases regulate blood glucose levels. However it has to be done under the guidance of an expert and not self-experimented. Also there are various conditions in which you cannot undertake fasting and hence it isn’t a great idea to force your body to do something it hasn’t done before.

IF NOT INTERMITTENT FASTING HERE IS HOW YOU CAN STAY HEALTHY-

  • Go ahead and learn the basics of good nutrition. If you want to stay fit there is nothing better than learning what good nutrition actually means.
  • Eat home cooked meals and most importantly eat whole foods can the processed or packaged ones.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stay consistent; it is the key to success.
  • Most importantly find a qualified nutritionist/dietitian who can guide you through the fundamentals of healthy eating.

 

Image via Unsplash

 

A Nutritionist, Clinical Dietitian, Speaker, health/fitness blogger, online show host,menu planner, menstrual health

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