Intermittent fasting may seem like a new fad to accelerate weight loss, but in fact, it has been around for thousands of years. In particular, many religions have designated periods of abstaining from food. As a modern diet plan, intermittent fasting applies the ancient fasting principles to promote weight loss and muscle gain. Furthermore, it’s important to remember the basic principle of any weight loss program: you take in less food energy than your body burns during normal activity.
Intermittent fasting severely limits calories on certain days of the week or during specific hours of the day. This is supposed to slow your body’s metabolism and help decrease your appetite. There are no foods that are restricted on this plan; you simply set time periods for when you can eat them. By eating fewer meals you are taking in fewer calories.
Are you intrigued? And is intermittent fasting it all it’s cracked up to be?
No foods are off limits
If you can’t bear the thought of changing your eating habits, this could be the plan for you. Since no foods are restricted, you still get to eat all of your favorites without guilt.
You don’t track calories
This is good news if you don’t want to figure out macros, track your food intake, or analyze the nutritional content of all your meals. It reduces the stress of wondering if you have enough calories left for dinner.
You snack less
Since the window of eating is smaller your opportunity to snack is diminished. This keeps your insulin stable and causes changes to your hormones. Subsequently, your body recognizes that food is scarce and will release fat cells to use for energy.
You can reset your digestion
If you have a compromised digestive system, taking longer breaks from eating can allow your body to heal more fully. Eating less often allows your digestive system to take a rest.
You may have more energy
Some of the positive side effects reported include feeling energized and clear headed. This could be due to your body no longer relying solely on food intake for energy and begins burning fat for fuel.
You may lose fat
With any calorie reduction you will lose weight. As long as you are consuming fewer calories during your eating periods you will start to shed weight. Insulin levels also decrease when you fast, lower insulin levels mean more fat burning.
Hard to stick with for some people
It can be hard to stick to eating in a restricted time period, especially for someone who is used to snacking. If you are someone who gets “hangry” when you miss a meal this could be difficult to maintain.
Intermittent fasting has the potential to lower your metabolism by propelling your body into starvation mode, which can cause muscle to be broken down for energy instead of fat. The key is to eat enough protein and calories to keep muscles healthy while still losing fat. Our GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale helps you track that you’re losing fat and not muscle. It measures weight, body fat, muscle mass, bone mass, and body water. All of these stats help keep you healthy during your weight loss journey.
Few studies done on humans
Most of the positive results for fasted eating have been done on animals. It can be difficult to know the long term effects of this diet on humans.
You may need to adjust workouts
Fasting may leave you feeling too weak to work out or may leave you ravenous afterward. If this does occur, try to exercise during your feeding times. Lowering the intensity of your workout could also help curb your appetite.
May do more harm than good for women
It’s possible that intermittent fasting may not be beneficial for women. Studies show that for women, alternate-day fasting could actually lower glucose tolerance and potentially crash your metabolism. Other reported side effects include hormonal dysfunction, sleeplessness, anxiety, and irregular periods.
May increase cortisol
Skipping meals can trigger your stress hormone, leading it to release cortisol. Cortisol increases belly fat and can cause you to gain weight.
Increased hunger may lead you to binge on your non-fasting days/times. Binge eating can lead to both weight gain and blood sugar control problems. If you aren’t seeing weight loss results on the scale, tracking your serving sizes can help. Our Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale measures portions precisely to .05 oz or 1 g. It has an easy to read LCD display and automatically shuts off after 3 minutes so you don’t drain the battery.
Who should not try intermittent fasting?
If you’re trying to lose fat and gain muscle, intermittent fasting may be what you’re looking for. As with any dietary change, you could experience side effects which may include increased hunger, cravings, low energy, light-headedness, nervousness, poor concentration, and trouble sleeping. If symptoms don’t ease within a week or two, try easing back on fasting times or fast two days a week rather than daily.
If you currently have or have previously experienced disordered eating this plan is not right for you.
If you are hypoglycemic fasted eating is not for you.
Always check with your doctor prior to starting any diet, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Have you had success with intermittent fasting? Tweet us at @eatsmartscales.
You may also be interested in The Pros and Cons of the Ketogenic Diet.