Not eating to lose weight? Genius.
It's common knowledge that not eating or eating less will lead to weight loss. Prefix the word “fasting” with “intermittent” and intermittent fasting becomes a weight loss strategy.
During prolonged periods of not eating, we burn through the calories consumed during our last meal, our insulin level goes down, and we begin to burn off our fat for energy.
Fasting is not for everyone
While intermittent fasting is safe for many people, if you plan on using this strategy for weight loss, it’s best to check in with your doctor first. For example, intermittent fasting is not appropriate for:
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
People under the age of 18 years old
People with diabetes or blood sugar problems
People with a history of eating disorders
Ways to take a break from eating
The different approaches to intermittent fasting include:
Alternate day fasting. Eat regular meals one day, followed by one small meal (less than 25% of daily energy needs, or about 500 calories) on the fasting day.
Time-restricted fasting. Eat only during a certain time period, then fast for the remaining hours of the day. For example, eating only during 7am to 3pm.
Periodic fasting. Fast for up to 24 hours once or twice a weeks with normal intake on the remaining days. For example, eat a normal diet five days a week and fast two days a week.
Intermittent fasting is about when and how long we refrain from eating. It’s not so much about what we eat. But to optimize weight loss goals, avoid binging on high-calorie junk food during non-fasting periods. And remember, during fasting periods, don’t forget to hydrate with water and zero-calorie beverages.
The wait is worth more than just the weight
Weight loss. It’s the primary driver for not eating. But research has shown that intermittent fasting does more than just burn fat. In addition to weight loss, intermittent fasting may:
Enhance brain function
Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes
Improve heart health
Ready. Set. Wait.
Despite the potential benefits, abstaining from food for prolonged stretches of time can be difficult to sustain. In addition to the hunger, cravings, and fatigue, some people may experience nausea and headaches. Remember, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Before you swear off food for prolonged periods, check in with your doctor if intermittent fasting is right for you.
Stockman MC, Thomas D, Burke J, Apovian CM. Intermittent Fasting: Is the Wait Worth the Weight? Curr Obes Rep. 2018 Jun;7(2):172-185
de Cabo R, Mattson MP. Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. N Engl J Med. 2019 Dec 26;381(26):2541-2551