Anyone who has ever attempted to shed their extra pounds can tell you that there’s no easy way to achieve this feat. Plus, with several weight loss methods to choose from, it can be confusing to know which of them is effective for your goals and body type.
Is Fasting a Healthy Way to Lose Weight?
Nowadays, intermittent fasting (IF) has become one of the most popular methods to lose weight. Aside from the fact that it’s relatively easy to implement, it’s not as restrictive on the food you can eat.
The more important question is: is it healthy to do at all? The simple answer is: it depends. If you’re relatively healthy to begin with, then you can do IF without encountering any health issues.
IF is helpful in weight loss because it helps trigger ketosis, a state in which your body uses fat for energy. It can also affect your body’s metabolic processes by improving blood sugar levels.
As a result, you become less prone to inflammation and physical stress. At least, that’s what you’re bound to get over the short term, if you also minimize your consumption of sugary and oily food items.
However, not much studies have been done to determine the effects of IF over the long term. Generally, it should work well as long as you follow your doctor’s advice about food consumption and exercise programs.
The Effects of Fasting on Your Hormones
Fasting isn’t merely about depriving yourself of food for a set amount of time. When done correctly, it shifts your hormonal levels and triggers the necessary repair mechanisms that you need on a cellular level.
Listed below are some of the internal changes that your body experiences while you’re fasting:
- Insulin levels considerably decrease, which leads to ketosis.
- HGH (human growth hormone) levels can rise up to 5 times its usual amount. The more HGH you have in your body, the more fat you can burn, and the more muscle you can gain.
- Your cell’s repair processes begin by eliminating waste products. As a result, you increase your immunity against illnesses, thereby improving longevity.
What Kind of Fasting Methods Are Used for Weight Loss?
IF can be done in several ways. There’s no one method that can be considered the best, because all of them have their own roles in a person’s weight loss journey. Ultimately, your choice will depend on what’s the most convenient for you to do at the moment.
That said, listed below are the 5 most common ways to do it:
1. 16/8 Method
This is probably the most popular way to perform IF, as the rules aren’t demanding even if you’re just a beginner. You simply have to fast for 16 hours each day, and follow it up with an 8-hour eating window.
You’ll have to fit in all your daily calories into that 8-hour timeframe. This can consist of 2-3 meals. After which, you don’t consume anything but water or zero-calorie drinks until the next eating window.
For instance, if your eating window starts at 12:00 NN, it should end at 8:00 PM. Your next meal will then be at 12:00 NN again, the next day.
You can modify the 16/8 method by shortening the fasting hours (14/10) or lengthening it (18/6 or 20/4). Play around with what’s comfortable for you and see what works.
2. Spontaneous Meal Skipping
This is like the 16/8 method but without the strict schedules. As the name implies, you simply skip meals whenever you feel like it. This could be a good way to introduce yourself to the more systematic ways of doing IF.
3. 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 diet consists of eating normally for 5 days, and then restricting your calorie intake to 500 calories (for women) or 600 calories (for men) on 2 non-consecutive days.
4. Eat-Stop-Eat Method
This is like the 5:2 diet, but instead of going low-calorie on 2 non-consecutive days, you go for a full 24-hour fast. If you’re preparing for any sports event, this may not be a good fasting method for you, as the lack of calories may compromise your training.
5. Warrior Diet
In warrior diet, you have a 4-hour eating window at the end of the day. During the rest of the day, however, you’re allowed to snack on fruits and vegetables. Additionally, you’re only allowed to eat whole and unprocessed food items.
Which Fasting Methods Should You Do?
As you may notice, shorter fasts like the 16/8 are usually done daily, compared to IF methods that have 24-hour fasts, which are done at least twice a week. What’s good for you will usually depend on your fitness goals.
For example, if you need to build insulin resistance and burn more fat, 5:2 diet and eat-stop-eat may be the better options for now. However, if you’re moving on to maintenance, shorter fasts like the 16/8 will work.
Most IF methods are great in their own right. It’s up to you (and your doctor) to determine which method can help you achieve your goals in the healthiest way possible.
Ultimately, you should do the IF method that you can follow consistently. Otherwise, if you can’t stick with it, you’ll never be able to make it work.
If this means that you have to switch up your IF methods sometimes, depending on where your life is at, then fast according to what you can actually do. After all, it can be good to introduce change from time to time so that your body will keep on responding to IF.
Fasting Can Be Healthy, As Long As You Do It Right
When applied correctly, IF can be one of the healthiest ways to lose weight. Aside from getting your body to use up fat for energy, it also stimulates your cell’s repair mechanisms, thereby strengthening your immune system.
Of course, like any other weight loss method, make sure that you consult with your doctor first before trying anything out. Naturally, you’ll want this to be effective, but it can only be so if it’s catered specifically to your goals and needs.