With the increase in the proportion of overweight and obese people, we see the parallel emergence of many methods with promises of rapid weight loss. Intermittent fasting for weight loss is one of the newest methods. Intermittent fasting may have consequences on our metabolism at an energetic, muscular and hormonal level. So, is it possible to achieve healthy weight loss with intermittent fasting?
Although many people consider fasting an unhealthy way to lose weight, the reality is that intermittent fasting may be an excellent weight-loss tool. The benefits intermittent fasting can provide are multiple, and many of them allow us to change our eating behavior and life habits in general, favoring the maintenance of the weight achieved in the long term.
Table of contents
- What Is Intermittent Fasting?
- Types Of Intermittent Fasting
- Why Intermittent Fasting Can Help With Weight Loss
- Possible Risks Of Intermittent Fasting
- Conclusion: Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a type of fasting characterized by periods of abstinence from food interspersed with periods of eating.
This type of dietary approach helps to reduce energy intake, and that is one of the reasons why it is proposed as a weight loss tool.
Types Of Intermittent Fasting
There are several ways to implement intermittent fasting. The choice of one method or another will depend on the preferences and needs of each person. However, all have the same benefits.
This intermittent fasting method consists of fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours. This is one of the easiest methods to implement since most people simply start fasting at 8 P.M. and end it at 12 A.M. the next day. In other words, they eat dinner earlier and skip breakfast.
This method consists of consuming food at will for 5 days a week and the other two days only a quarter of the same, which means an intake of approximately 500 calories.
This method consists of consuming small volumes of food for 20 hours and then consuming food at will for a 4-hour period at night.
Although there is no mention of types of food, most of these intermittent fasting models recommend consuming unprocessed foods with high nutritional density.
Why Intermittent Fasting Can Help With Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting can generate weight loss through several pathways. Let’s start with calorie reduction.
Fewer meals lead to a decrease in caloric intake. According to research, when comparing the effectiveness of a conventional calorie restriction protocol with intermittent fasting, the consequences on body weight are very similar.
Intermittent fasting can induce weight loss through the hormonal pathway. Major anabolic hormones, such as insulin, decrease with fasting, facilitating the mobilization of fat from stores.
On the other hand, norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter) reaches fat cells promoting the release of fatty acids that become part of the energy source.
Finally, growth hormone can increase its concentration up to 5 times, promoting the preservation of muscle mass.
Changes In Muscle Mass
While fasting for a few hours may cause an initial loss of lean mass, the consistent practice of fasting is effective in maintaining muscle mass and metabolic rate.
This fact will also depend on the protein intake. This is because lean mass undergoes constant protein turnover, in which the loss prevails in the first hours of fasting as a consequence of the utilization of proteins for the formation of glucose as a source of energy.
After the initial eight to ten hours, the lean protein mass usually stabilizes with a balance between protein loss and protein formation.
Changes In Eating Behavior
Although fasting can trigger compulsive behaviors in predisposed people, a study showed that when we eat earlier in the day and fast later in the day, it is possible to reduce appetite and thus lose weight.
This change in appetite would be related to the hormone ghrelin, which is decreased with fasts longer than 10 hours.
This study was the first to confirm an association between meal timing and energy metabolism.
It Is An Easier Plan To Carry Out
Many people need a simple plan to lose weight. They are those who already have very tight routines and don’t want to complicate their lives by counting calories, buying unusual foods, weighing foods, etc.
Intermittent fasting allows people to consume a wide variety of foods and still lose weight. This is especially true if they restrict poor quality or processed carbohydrates (white pasta, bread, desserts, cakes, etc.).
With intermittent fasting, it is not necessary to plan a weekly menu. Simply incorporate foods from all the food groups on the established schedule and that’s it.
Possible Risks Of Intermittent Fasting
It is important to clarify that, despite the many benefits intermittent fasting has on energy metabolism and weight loss, there are also some risks.
In people with a history of eating disorders, abstinence from food for so many hours can lead to anxiety and compulsions.
In people with metabolic problems such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, gout, etc., the regulation mechanisms may be altered. This is because the source of energy during fasting changes and decompensations may occur.
On the other hand, those who are used to consuming foods rich in sugars or ultra-processed products rich in preservatives and flavorings may feel a lack of them.
Sugar withdrawal usually generates the so-called “metabolic flu”, a state in which headache, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, dehydration, etc. are experienced.
In this sense, it is essential to consume broths or fruit juices in order to replenish fluids and minerals.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women and young children cannot perform this type of fasting.
Conclusion: Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting is an effective weight loss method when practiced on a sustained basis.
Fasting practiced on a sustained basis favors the reduction of caloric intake. In addition, the hormonal changes that occur favor the reduction of appetite and the preservation of muscle mass. All this favors healthy weight loss.
For this practice to be healthy in the long term and to reduce risks, it is important to consume natural foods from all food groups.
The so-called “metabolic flu” is very common in the first days. To avoid this side effect, it is recommended to reduce the hours of fasting or to incorporate liquids rich in minerals (sodium, potassium) such as bone broth or fruit juice.
So, what are your thoughts on all of this? Let us know in the comments below!