With so many weird and wonderful ways to lose weight, it can be incredibly confusing knowing the right plan to follow.
After all, when you’re on a mission to lose weight, you want to know you’re also going to be able to keep off the pounds. Am I right?
Now, intermittent fasting has been around for some time. But with different plans inside of this type of diet plan, it can get even more confusing pretty quickly.
But, does it work? Can it boost weight loss? We’ll be the judge…
How does it work?
Usually, we’re pretty clued up on how a ‘diet’ works. We’re usually told what to eat, and what to avoid entirely. However, intermittent fasting isn’t about laying out a meal plan for you, as it isn’t about what you eat, but when.
Yep, intermittent fasting kinda gives itself away in the title – intermittent – meaning you’ll be eating at specific times. The reason it works is because after hours with no food your body has used up all its sugar and starts to burn fat instead; this is known as metabolic switching.
The right intermittent fasting plan
This is where things get a little more confusing… Since there are different ways of doing intermittent fasting. Here are the most popular ones:
- The Warrior Diet
- Eat Stop Eat
- The 5:2
- The 16:8
- Alternate-day fasting (ADF)
Don’t worry, we’re about to go into each in a little more detail.
The 16:8 method
The most popular form of intermittent fasting, this route works like this:
- You eat during an 8-hour window
- Fast for 16 hours
- Some may choose to skip breakfast and eat between 12 and 8pm, whereas others may want to eat earlier and opt for 9am-5pm instead
The 5:2 method
- For five days a week you eat normally
- The remaining two you would be restricted to a ¼ of your daily calorie intake
Let’s say you typically eat 2000 calories, you can do this on five days, then on the two fasting days of your choice, you’d eat 500 calories. Studies have shown that the 5:2 diet is as effective as a continuous calorie restriction for weight loss.
Eat Stop Eat
The slightly more unconventional route, the ‘Eat Stop Eat’ was made popular by Brad Pilon and goes a little like this:
- Fasting on one or two non-consecutive days and then eating as normal for the remainder of the week
- Of course, it is recommended you continue eating a healthy and balanced diet during this time
- A lot of willpower is needed if you are going to fast for 24 hours, though
The clue is kinda in the name again here…
- You fast every other day
- Some prefer to modify this plan, and instead of fasting for a full 24 hours, they limited their calorie intake to a ¼ of their normal daily intake, similar to the 5:2 method
- Alternate day fasting is known to be just as effective as following a calorie-restricted diet for weight loss
The Warrior Diet
Developed in 2001 by Ori Hofmekler, the Warrior Diet follows the eating pattern of ancient warriors. This plan requires you to eat very little for 20 hours a day and then as much as you want (more ‘need’) for a 4 hour window at night
Within these four hours, it is encouraged that you eat small amounts of dairy, raw fruit, vegetables, hard boiled eggs and non-calorie fluids.
We’re not so sure on this one… There is definitely room for further research.
What should you eat during intermittent fasting?
When it comes to drinks, opt for zero-calorie drinks like black coffee or tea, as well as plenty of water. Then during your eating window, you can eat normally, just don’t start raiding the store of candy or eating everything in sight.
Can intermittent fasting affect your hormones?
While intermittent fasting may seem great (ish!) so far, it can have an effect on your hormones. During fasting periods, your body will change so it can access its energy stores.
Also Read: Here’s how to keep junk food cravings at bay
Fasting is when these metabolic changes will occur:
- Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) – our nervous system sends norepinephrine to our fat cells. This makes them break down body fat into fatty acids that can then be burned for energy.
- Insulin – Our insulin levels increase when we eat, so when you fast, they decrease hugely. When you have lower insulin levels, you burn fat.
But is intermittent fasting safe?
Let’s face it, intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone… Everybody is different when it comes to losing weight. But it is certainly not suitable for the following groups:
- Diabetics or those with a blood sugar condition
- Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding
- Those with a history of eating disorders
- Children under the age of 18
What about maintaining muscle mass?
When you’re pushing to lose weight, your body can lose muscle mass as well as fat. Although, some research has shown that intermittent fasting may actually be beneficial for maintaining muscle mass whilst losing fat.
Also Read: The best workout for busy women
Don’t get too carried away with that fact though, ladies, the study did have its limitations so these results may not be 100% correct.
Make intermittent fasting work for you
If you’ve read all of the above and you’re still contemplating giving intermittent fasting a go, here are a few things to bear in mind:
- Calories – during your eat window, try not to make up for the fact that you’re fasting and eat within moderation
- Eat healthily – when you do eat, eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Exercise – Many of the intermittent fasting methods recommend exercise, including strength training
- Patience – as much as we all want to see results straight away, we also know it takes time! Be sure to give yourself and your body time to adjust
- Consistency – like absolutely any diet, consistency is key! You need to stick to it for an extended period of time
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