Intermittent fasting for weight loss has become popular in the recent past. It is an effective strategy where you adjust your eating patterns rather than depriving yourself of certain foods. The plan suggests periods of fasting followed by consuming a nourishing diet. Here is all that you need to know about intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss?
Intermittent fasting for weight loss is a diet regimen that involves fasting and eating cyclically. It is a way to consume fewer calories and speed up your weight loss by eating only in certain timeframes. Intermittent fasting has many health benefits besides weight loss. It is a relatively easier dietary plan where you have few restrictions on the choice of food.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good For Weight Loss?
Yes, studies show that time-restricted eating patterns help cut down calories and lose weight faster. You burn energy even at rest when you are fasting. Further, intermittent fasting also boosts metabolism improving calorie burn. It may reduce body weight and body fat to 8% and 16%, respectively, in just 3 to 12 weeks.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Aid Weight Loss?
You can combine intermittent fasting with other dietary plans like the ketogenic diet for better weight loss results and a healthier lifestyle. Make sure you do this under the supervision of a certified nutritionist.
The following are the ways in which intermittent eating pattern promotes weight loss:
Increases Fat Burning:
Intermittent fasting increases the production of the hormone norepinephrine, which boosts your metabolism. This helps to burn calories leading to weight loss.
Maintains Muscle Mass:
Intermittent fasting helps lose extra, harmful fat deposits in the body while maintaining lean muscle mass compared to other dietary weight loss methods.
Helps Lose Belly Fat:
Intermittent fasting helps to lose belly fat faster. Losing abdominal fat reduces the risk of coronary diseases among men, helps reduce waist circumference also making you look lean and fit.
Blood Sugar Management:
Intermittent fasting helps to manage blood sugar levels and insulin. As insulin levels decrease, it improves the rate of burning fat in the body.
Additional Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Improves Cardiovascular Health:
Intermittent fasting helps reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides in the body, which improves heart health. It also reduces inflammation in the body.
Lowers Insulin Levels:
Intermittent fasting leads to a reduction in insulin levels. Having insulin in check prevents the occurrence of many life-threatening diseases. It also improves the burning of stored fat in the body.
Protects Against Life-Threatening Diseases:
This eating pattern helps to regulate blood pressure, in preventing many illnesses such as type-2 diabetes, certain types of cancers, and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Increases Life Span:
Some studies show that intermittent fasting protects against diseases and memory loss, offers anti-ageing benefits, and increases longevity. It also aids in cellular repair and function over time while boosting overall brain function.
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Popular Intermittent Fasting Plans
Here are four intermittent fasting diet plans you can choose from according to your weight loss goals. Make sure you consult an expert before starting the diet.
The 16/8 Method:
This is a popular plan among the intermittent fasting plans where you fast for 16 hours each day with an 8-hour eating window. You can consume foods of your choice during the eating window. It is a flexible fasting plan, but most people prefer to fast in the night and morning and eat in the afternoons.
You can choose between the following eating windows – 9 am to 5 pm, 10 am to 6 pm, or noon to 8 pm. Studies show that the 16/8 method combined with resistance training helps reduce fat in the body while retaining muscle mass.
The 5:2 Method:
The 5:2 method is easy to follow and one of the best intermittent fasting ways to lose weight. In this method, you can eat your meals as you usually do five days a week. On the remaining two days, you need to restrict your calorie intake to one-quarter of an individual’s daily needs.
The 5:2 method is straightforward, with no restrictions on the type or quantity of food on the five full-calorie days. Studies show that this method helps accelerate weight loss while preventing metabolic diseases like diabetes.
Fitness expert Brad Pilon developed this method, which involves fasting for 24 hours on one or two consecutive days of a week. Fasting for 24 hours shift the body’s metabolism, as the body will begin to utilise fat deposits as an energy source. This will lead to increased fat loss. Pilon also has a book with the same name, Eat Stop Eat.
Alternate Day Fasting Method:
This intermittent fasting plan involves fasting on alternate days, with no restrictions on the choice of foods you want to consume. On the days that you are fasting, you can consume 25% of your calorie intake for the day. This method is effective when combined with endurance workouts and studies show that it may help lose twice the weight as compared to only fasting.
The Warrior Diet:
Ori Hofmekler, a former member of the Israeli Special Forces and now a noted fitness and nutrition expert, developed this popular intermittent fasting plan in 2001. He also wrote the book The Warrior Diet based on historical data on the eating habits of warriors.
The plan suggests eating like them – having nothing for 20 hours a day and then consuming what you like during the four-hour window at night. It is advisable to eat whole, unprocessed foods during the eating window.
Which Intermittent Fasting Plan Is Best For Weight Loss?
Experts suggest that the 16/8 method is the best intermittent fasting diet plan for weight loss and is the most preferred. It is relatively easy to follow as you can begin your 8-hour eating window at lunch hour. You may take a while to get used to the routine, but it is practical and doable. Studies show that people who follow restricted eating patterns as 16/8 can successfully create a calorie deficit and improve weight loss.
How To Start Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss?
It is best to start with the 16/8 method, where your sleep time covers most part (7-9 hours) of the fasting window. You can start by practising prolonged periods of fasting whenever you can and then move to 5:2 diet. Another approach is to skip meals whenever possible, experiment with different fasting schedules, and find a plan best suited to you.
It is advisable to consult a certified nutritionist to avoid complications that may arise.
What To Eat While Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss?
While there are no restrictions on the type or quantity of food to eat while intermittent fasting, having a balanced diet helps if you want to lose weight and have specific weight loss goals in mind. It is also a healthy lifestyle practice you can inculcate.
Here are some foods you can include in your diet while intermittent fasting for weight loss:
- Plenty of fresh high-fibre, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Whole grains such as quinoa, barley, brown rice, and oats are great additions to your diet plan.
- Lean sources of proteins like eggs, chicken, fish, pulses, lentils, etc.
- Nuts, seeds, coconut oil, olive oil for healthy fats. They keep you full for longer.
- Complex carbohydrates such as jowar, bajra, etc. improve satiety.
- Hydrate adequately with water and beverages such as unsweetened tea or coffee.
Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?
While intermittent fasting is an effective approach to losing weight, it may not be suitable for everyone. Children, people with chronic illnesses, breastfeeding and pregnant women should avoid it. People with diabetes should also avoid it as it may lead to an abnormal drop in their blood sugar levels. In some cases, it may also lead to abnormal menstrual cycles or a decrease in fertility. If you are underweight or have eating disorders, you should avoid intermittent fasting.
Experts Tips To Follow When Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
- As the body takes time to adapt to the intermittent fasting pattern, you may feel increased hunger and tiredness when you begin with the plan. So, make sure you take a balanced, nutrient-dense diet to remain full for longer.
- Eat mindfully during the eating window. Avoid overeating as it may lead to acid reflux or heartburn.
- Limit calorie-rich foods.
- Ensure that you hydrate throughout the day.
- Drinking cinnamon water helps prevent recurrent hunger pangs.
- Avoid exercising before or during the eating window as it may lead to increased hunger.
- Avoid activities such as watching food shows, etc., that may stimulate hunger.
- Try to eat whole, unprocessed and single-ingredient foods.
- Include moderate exercise or physical activity for best results from your intermittent fasting plan.
- Stay consistent to see the desired results.
Must Read: Which Exercises Burn Most Calories?
Fasting has been a common practice in the Indian culture for ages. Intermittent fasting is another variation and, if followed consistently, can give you excellent weight loss results. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ diet plan for weight loss and you need to create one that best suits you.