Intermittent fasting for weight loss is one of the biggest dieting crazes across the world.
All over the internet there are stories of people having great success with fasting.
Is it too good to be true?
Well what is it?
Intermittent fasting is basically exactly as it sounds – periods of not eating.
It is completed a few different ways:
2 days per week of fasting
Monday – eat
Tuesday – fast
Wednesday – eat
Thursday – fast
Fri – eat
Sat – eat
Sun – eat
Simply fasting for 16hrs per day
(i.e. not eating from 7pm to 11am – or any other 16hr window you chose)
Alternate Day Fasting
Fasting every second day
Other fasting methods are a mixture of the above, and some allow small health foods throughout the day to get you through the tough hunger moments.
What are the claimed benefits
Those that are advocates for intermittent fasting report many benefits, including:
- Weight loss
- Improved blood glucose levels
- Improved insulin
- Reduced stomach bloating
- Improved cholesterol
- Reduced free radicals
- Reduced risk of health issues
- and many more…
Is it too good to be true?
Well lets have a look at the research.
The best method of reviewing studies is to complete a systematic review &/or meta-analysis.
Basically these two research terms mean that a bunch of research studies are pooled together, to gain a bigger sample size – as often studies are too small to create solid conclusions.
In one systematic review, the authors found intermittent fasting was more effective than no treatment (ie doing your own thing).
Average wt loss of 4.14kg over 3-12mths.
Wow – it actually may work…. or maybe not
The same study found that the results were not significantly better than a normal energy restricted diet (normal diet of eating less than you need).
This result was backed in another meta-analysis published in nutrients 2016.
There were also no difference between intermittent fasting and normal dieting, and furthermore – no extra changes to weight loss, blood glucose, cholesterol or insulin levels.
So is it worth it and why do some people get results?
Basically it comes down to the simple fact that anything can work if it helps you stick to something and change your crappy eating habits.
This is evident in the multitude of people whom have had success eating crazy fad diets such as nothing but bananas or the lemon diet or the watermelon diet, Atkins, or should I say it the Paleo diet – the list goes on and on!
I’ll repeat that original statement:
anything can work if it helps you stick to something and change your crappy eating habits
Results in weight loss will occur if you’re eating less than your previous intake!
So is intermittent fasting the way to go?
The big issue is – how long can you last with these crazy methods – probably not long.
Well if you’re like me and graze all day – it would be tough and it would be hard to stick to.
It has also been said that many who attempt intermittent fasting get HANGRY – go crazy and eat heaps more on non fasting days!! Totally defeating the purpose!
So, yes it can help lose weight – but so does eating controlled calorie intake, without the need to starve yourself!