Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight: Does It Work?


  • Intermittent fasting can help with weight loss, but the results of the research are mixed.
  • How much weight you can lose from intermittent fasting depends on your schedule and your lifestyle.
  • Adolescents, pregnant people, and those with eating disorders should not experience intermittent fasting.
  • Visit the Insider Health Reference Library for more tips.

Intermittent fasting can be a popular choice

weight loss
strategy, but it is not a particularly new phenomenon.

In addition to religious and spiritual reasons, many cultures throughout history have used fasting as a tool to improve health. For example, ancient greek athletes he would go hungry to prepare their bodies for the Olympics.

But what is intermittent fasting, exactly? And can limiting your food intake to certain hours of the day or specific days of the week really help you lose a few pounds? Here’s what you need to know about intermittent fasting and weight loss.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting involves following a plan that changes between eating periods and fasting periods. It’s a food strategy that puts no limits which one eat, but rather by the time eat.

As a method of weight loss, intermittent fasting is known to improve metabolic health and lower insulin levels, which helps the body burn more calories per day.

There are several approaches to intermittent fasting, which revolve around alternating periods of eating and fasting. You can choose to eat during certain hours of the day or certain days of the week, as long as the schedule is consistent.

Some common types of intermittent fasting include:

  • June 16/8: Also known as time-limited fasting, this popular strategy involves eating only for an eight-hour period, such as 10 am to 6 pm and fasting for the rest of the day.
  • Alternative day diet: As the name implies, this style of fasting is when you fast or severely limit your caloric intake every other day.
  • Diet 5: 2: With this method, you normally eat five days a week and choose two, non-consecutive days where you eat only 500 to 600 calories.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss

Research is limited on the functioning of the intermittent fast for weight loss. Some studies have indicated that it can help people lose weight in just a matter of weeks, while others have found no weight loss benefits.

It may also depend on the type of intermittent fasting program you choose. Here’s what the research says about three of the most popular intermittent fasting methods:

  • 16/8 intermittent fasting. A Study 2020 of the 116 adults found no significant difference in weight loss between a group that limited all calorie intake to between 12 pm and 8 pm each day and a control group that was allowed three meals per day, more snacks. Notably, the 12-week study found what fasting could bring loss of muscle mass.
  • Alternative daytime breakfast. A Study 2017 who compared an alternative daily fasting plan with a typical calorie-restricted diet found no significant difference in weight loss among participants. The study involved 100 obese participants, and there was a significant dropout rate – only 69% of the subjects stayed until the end.
  • 5: 2 intermittent fasting. A Study 2013 found that, out of a sample of 115 overweight women, those who tried an intermittent 5: 2 fasting diet for 3 months lost more fat and experienced a greater reduction in insulin resistance than women who had follow a standard diet limited to calories for the same period of time.

Search around the intermittent fast it has its limitations, from the size of the participants to the length of the studies. The effectiveness also depends largely on whether you can actually stick to the floor.


According to a registered dietitian Natalie Allen, assistant clinical professor at Missouri State University, most people choose a version of the 16/8 method because it is easier to follow than any other version.

Finally, when deciding if intermittent fasting is right for your weight loss goals, it is crucial to keep in mind your lifestyle and your eating habits.

“Some people may struggle without eating for extended periods of time,” Heilbronn says.

Intermittent fasting is not safe for everyone

According to Heilbronn, intermittent fasting is not for everyone.

“People taking medication that can cause hypoglycemia (i.e. low insulin levels) should not do this diet without talking to their doctors,” he says.

You should also avoid intermittent fasting if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You are not fully cultivated (teenagers)
  • You have a history of eating disorders

Take away the Insider

Intermittent fasting can be a safe and effective weight loss strategy, with the caveat that the long-term benefits are less clear. For starters, you may want to try a simple 16/8 plan form, which limits the hours of the day when you eat.

It is important to note that beyond weight loss, intermittent fasting has other potential health benefits. Looking back at 2019 magazine has studied 70 published studies and found intermittent fasting of all kinds can help slow aging and reduces the risk of some diseases, including cancer,

, and

heart disease

But when it comes to weight loss, your own tolerance for hunger pangs can lead you in deciding if the food plan is right for you. If you believe that intermittent fasting may be unrealistic for your lifestyle, you may want to check out less restrictive eating plans such as the Mediterranean diet.

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