Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss – More Effective Than Traditional Diets?
Does Intermittent Fasting Lead to More Weight Loss?
What exactly is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Simply put, IF involves restricting the timing of your calorie intake.
There are two main ways of doing this. Some people choose to severely restrict themselves a few days a week. The 5:2 diet is a popular example – followers eat normally for five days a week and choose two days to consume only 500 or 600 calories (depending on whether they’re a woman or a man).
Other people who fast intermittently do so for a set period every day. A popular method is the 16/8 which involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours, and restricting your daily “eating window” to 8-10 hours.
The theory behind intermittent fasting is that by restricting the timing of when you eat you can gain control over your diet and that this will aid weight loss. But does it lead to better results than a traditional calorie-controlled diet? The short answer is NO.
What often gets lost in fad diets and eating trends is the simple fact that weight loss requires a calorie deficit. Timing your meals differently won’t shift those extra pounds if, when you do eat, you consume more energy than you spend. IF is just a way of structuring your eating and it needs to be combined with calorie controlling to achieve results.
One of the problems some might encounter with IF is the difficulty to stick to the restrictive periods and often overindulge once the eating window opens. When we allow ourselves to become very hungry we become susceptible to cravings for high fat and high sugar foods. We’re also more likely to over eat and to choose quick unhealthy foods because of the urgency of our hunger. IF can be very helpful for those who have a healthy and sane relationship with food, or those who enjoy larger less frequent meals or for anyone who needs to learn the difference between real hunger and mental hunger.
If you can stick to the regime without causing yourself unnecessary stress or damage your relationship with food, IF can be a good way to condense your diet into a set period and to live normally for the remainder. For this reason, some people have great success with it. So it can be a helpful tool if used accordingly.
For those of you who want to give IF a go, an important aspect is planning and preparation. Work out the calorie content of meals and make sure they fit with your diet, whether it’s fasting days or set eating periods. Prepare and portion your meals in advance so you can reach for them quickly when you’re hungry; this will help to prevent against binge eating. Alternatively, if you’re choosing to have calorie-controlled days, you may want to opt for a high protein replacement shake as this will be quicker than cooking and removes the hassle of making food choices.
It’s also important to examine the types of foods you’re eating. If using the 5:2 method, for 500 calorie days, choose filling foods and load up on vegetables. Drink plenty of water and herbal tea too as this will help to stave off hunger. And focus on the positive aspects of this style of eating – you can enjoy larger meals! It can be very satisfying to eat until you are properly full – just make sure not to overeat.
Overall, intermittent fasting can help you to achieve weight loss if it’s combined with calorie control. The most important thing to remember is that it’s the calorie count at the end of the day that matters, not the timing of your meals.
Because weight loss success can be achieved in many ways, there is no one way to go about achieving a calorie deficit. It’s about finding a way that fits with your lifestyle. Whilst some can abide by the rules of intermittent fasting, others find it too difficult. So whatever strategy you chose, make sure if works for you. Dietary adherence is key for sustainable weight loss and maintenance .
Intermittent fasting may work remarkably well for some individuals, and awfully for others. Most notably, if you do agree to give intermittent fasting an attempt, be sure to listen to your body’s feedback. Starting with smaller fasting windows can help with initial symptoms of hunger and distress. But if it becomes too painful, be honest with yourself, accept it, and find something that you enjoy and works for you!