Whether you're beginning your weight loss journey or have been dieting for a while and reached a weight loss plateau, you may be unsure how to proceed. Many fad diets and plans claim to help people lose weight quickly, but so many of them don't seem to work or are too difficult to follow for the long term. As you research options, you'll most likely encounter information about intermittent fasting weight loss programs. But what are they? And do they work? Read on to get the facts about intermittent fasting benefits.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an approach to eating that focuses on the timing of your meals and snacks rather than what you eat. When following this type of diet, you eat only during a set time window, and then you do not eat or drink anything other than water for the rest of the day. The idea behind intermittent fasting dates back to our ancient ancestors, who only ate for a few hours every day when they had time to hunt or gather. Proponents of intermittent fasting believe that this eating style is more natural and therefore better for the body.
What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?
Research studies show that intermittent fasting for weight loss may help you lose pounds by:
Improving Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone that your body uses to control blood sugar levels. People who are overweight often suffer from insulin insensitivity. This means that their cells don't respond appropriately to insulin, and they cannot process blood glucose properly. Insulin insensitivity leads to elevated blood glucose levels, and that excess sugar is converted into fat.
Evidence suggests that your cells become more responsive to glucose when you fast. This means you're less likely to store fat, but you may also be better able to metabolize existing fat stores.
A rise in HGH Levels
Human growth hormone (HGH) is an important hormone that helps control muscle development and body composition. Studies indicate that fasting may increase HGH levels by up to 500%. As a result, you may be better able to metabolize fat and build lean muscle in its place when you exercise.
Lower Calorie Intake
Intermittent fasting doesn't always involve counting calories. However, many people consume fewer calories during the day when they fast. Suppose you're the sort of person who veers off of your healthy eating plan at night by consuming snacks, or snacks all day regardless of when you're hungry. In that case, intermittent fasting could cut out the opportunities to eat those excess calories, setting you up for weight loss success.
Autophagy - Another Benefit of Intermittent Fasting
Although not related to weight loss, autophagy is another potential benefit of intermittent fasting. So, what is autophagy? The term describes your body's ability to digest old proteins that develop inside cells. Research indicates that autophagy is part of your body's natural defense system against cancer, toxins, and plaques that may contribute to diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Some studies show that fasting may be like flipping a switch to initiate autophagy. When you practice autophagy fasting, your body may opt to eliminate damaged proteins to conserve energy and protect you from starvation. Then, when you eat again at your regularly scheduled time, your body produces new healthy proteins in place of the damaged ones.
How To Intermittent Fast
To intermittent fast:
- Examine your current eating habits. How many hours a day do you currently consume food? What do you eat, and when are you most likely to eat unhealthy foods?
- Choose an intermittent fasting schedule that fits your lifestyle.
- Talk to your doctor about whether, or not, the schedule chosen is right for your health needs.
- Start following your schedule. Keep a food diary to help you track your progress.
What Is a Good Intermittent Fasting Schedule?
There are many intermittent fasting schedules, but these three are the most popular:
- Intermittent fasting 16/8 schedule: you eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 hours. For example, you may only consume food from 1AM to 9PM or from 9AM to 5PM.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: you eat normally for 5 or 6 days and then fast for 24 hours, not eating anything from dinner time one day, until dinner time the next day
- The 5:2 diet: you eat 500 to 600 calories on two nonconsecutive days and then eat whatever you wish the other days
Consider Weight Loss Supplements
Weight loss supplements may support your efforts to lose weight with or without intermittent fasting. Look for products that aid in weight loss in more than one way for the best results. For example, Body Kitchen TrimGlo enhances gluten sensitivity with a West African superfruit, supports metabolism with green tea extract, and helps regulates blood sugar with polyphenols and chromium.