Using Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss Results
Intermittent fasting: You’ve probably heard this term at some point in the last year, as it’s getting a lot of press and buzz. But is it just hype, or is there some real evidence that this new trend of IF (as the cool kids call it) is effective for weight loss, wellness, and more?
Let’s dive into the details of Intermittent Fasting to see if it’s right for you.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
There are three main types of Intermittent Fasting:
2. Full-Day Fast
3. Early Time-Restricted Feeding (eTRF)
The concept behind a 16/8 style of fasting method is pretty straightforward. In every 24-hour period, you’re allotted 8 hours of eating time each day, and what you eat is not restricted (although I’d recommend you still eat low sugar). Then you’d fast for the next 16 hours, not eating anything but still drinking water whenever you want. For example, if you’re someone who doesn’t like to eat breakfast, you might decide you want to eat every day only between the hours of noon and 8pm.
A Full-Day Fast is a bit more challenging and became popular with a diet called 5:2. This version of IF has you eating normally five days a week, while on two non-consecutive days, you’re basically fasting—you must limit yourself to less than 500 calories a day on those two days . For example, you might eat under 500 calories on Tuesdays and Fridays, then eat as you’d like on the other days of the week.
The third type of IF is my personal and professional favorite, which is eTRF. In this version of IF, your daily fasting period only has to be 12 to 14 hours long, but ideally you’re not eating late in the evening. I refer to it as the early bird special of fasting. This is similar to 16/8, but you might say it’s more 12/12 or 14/10. For example, if you’re doing eTRF, you might wait until 9am to eat breakfast, but would make sure you finished dinner by 7pm.
What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
The science behind IF is pretty solid, with benefits ranging from improved insulin sensitivity and weight loss to increased metabolism and even healthier cells. Insulin resistance is one of the first signs of metabolic syndrome and can be a precursor to diabetes. A higher sensitivity to insulin is actually a good thing, because it means that your body is effectively listening to your hormones and handling the sugar in your bloodstream appropriately. Even better, when insulin levels are at healthy numbers and the body is responsive, it’s that much easier for the body to be in fat burning mode instead of fat storing.
For some people, IF can be effective for weight loss, perhaps because it prevents mindless snacking at night or because it causes a shift in hormones that leads to better insulin sensitivity and increased muscle mass.
Another cool metabolic benefit of IF is that your levels of human growth hormone may increase. This also helps to promote fat burning and weight loss while supporting increased muscle mass. Greater muscle mass then leads to a faster metabolism, so it’s a very cool virtuous cycle that some small changes to your meal timing can influence in a positive way.
IF can even reduce the amount of oxidative stress and inflammation in your body. Oxidative stress is when cells become damaged by free radicals. Research shows that fasting can reduce the amount of free radicals in your body and help your body resist the effects of oxidative stress.
What to Beware of With Intermittent Fasting
So what’s the catch? Most research shows that it doesn’t matter what you eat during your non-fasting times as long as you’re fasting, and that’s where I question whether the studies hold up in real-life situations. The science is assuming people are able to continue fasting and sticking to the schedule, but it doesn’t take into account the emotional toll that fasting can take.
In my practice, I’ve seen countless clients who’ve tried fasting or skipping meals but it’s only led them to make poor choices when they do eat or even worse, led them to binge-like behaviors. Other clients have come to me after fasting but because they were not being strict about following a low-sugar lifestyle, it led them to sugar cravings, and then they couldn’t keep up the fasting any more.
How I Recommend Using Intermittent Fasting to Get Results
That’s why I’m a fan of a modified eTRF-style fast, but done in conjunction with a healthy, low sugar diet—one that’s loaded with veggies, quality proteins, and healthy fats. Asking my clients to not eat for 12 to14 hours is less stressful and a smaller “ask” because it doesn’t have them actually skipping any meals. And while the concept works best if you can have an early dinner (hello, early birds!), it’s still effective if your dinner a bit later, plus you have some extra protection because you’re following a low-sugar plan.
In my ideal world, everyone would be having dinner between 5-6pm and then breakfast around 9am. Even better is that for 8 of the fasting hours, you’re ideally asleep, which makes staying out of the kitchen even easier. But what makes eTRF so convenient is that you can move the hours around to make it work for you. You can use a tool like Sweet Defeat when your sugar cravings are popping up during your fasting hours or after dinner, when you want to put an end to your eating hours. Even better is using a Sweet Defeat throughout the day to help you stick to your low-sugar eating plan.
Have you ever tried fasting of any kind? Could you attempt an eTRF style and join me in an early dinner? Let me know,and don’t forget to use your Sweet Defeat to quit sugar!