Intermittent fasting is a term that has been investigated thoroughly over the past decade or so and has captured the imagination of many. In the Natural Medicine arena, it has been bandied about for years with several naturopaths taking the principals onboard themselves and sharing the many health benefits observed with their clients.
If an intermittent fasting diet sounds appealing to you, there will no doubt be several benefits you will experience along the way, however, will one of them include weight loss? For those of you who may have stacked on the weight during quarantine intermittent fasting for weight loss may just be the key that you have been looking for to losing a few of those extra kg’s.
There are several different types of Intermittent Fasting as mentioned in our previous blog “What is Intermittent Fasting”, and we would recommend that you do a little investigating before deciding just which one will best suit you and your lifestyle. However, regardless of your Intermittent Fasting goals whether it be weight loss, increased energy or the prevention of metabolic disease you will need to take your energy needs and goals into account therefore, we recommend that you work with your health care practitioner to find an Intermittent Fasting plan that works best for you.
In the meantime, maybe we can fill in a few educational gaps that you may have been concerned about.
The Intermittent Fasting Diet
What began as an alternative to continuous calorie restriction has over the past several years been the subject to a number of animal studies, and human clinical trials. Which show promising benefits in weight loss as well as overall metabolic health and conditions such as type 2 diabetes. In a 2015 review pooling 40 different studies, participants lost 4.5kg in a 10-week period on average. Another smaller study of 16 obese adults following an “alternate day” intermittent fasting schedule (eating 25 percent of their daily calories on one day, and eating normally the following day) resulted in them losing up to 6kg over 8 weeks.
An Intermittent Fasting diet is a little hard to get your head around particularly if you have grown up in a time in which you were conditioned to eating 3 meals a day and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I mean isn’t fasting like starving yourself? Well actually no, not if you are intentionally abstaining from food for the long-term health benefits. You are in control here; it is not like there is not any food around and you do not have a choice.
Fasting as opposed to starvation should not cause ill health or negative health consequences, fasting is enabling your body to live off stored fat over a period of time, which could be hours or days, dependant on your choice of fast. To put this into a little more perspective if you stop eating after dinner at 8pm and then don’t eat breakfast until 8am you have fasted for 12 hours, when put like that it isn’t such a biggie right? Instead it can become a part of everyday life and health.
How Intermittent Fasting Helps You Lose Weight
Intermittent fasting allows your body to use its own stored energy by burning off excess body fat. On the opposite side of fasting, if you are eating every few hours, your body will consistently use any incoming calories from food as energy therefore, it is unlikely that you will be burning any body fat, alternately you will most likely be storing fat instead.
When you are fasting the process above is reversed, insulin levels are reduced, and your body now must access stored glucose for energy. Essentially you are burning calories through stored fat rather then from the food that you are eating throughout the day. Ultimately Intermittent fasting will not only help you lose weight but have you feeling thinner, feeling much healthier and ageing better.
We have mentioned in previous articles the association with the hormone insulin and carbohydrates which are quickly broken down into glucose and stored in the liver or muscles. When this limited storage space for carbohydrates is reached the liver begins turning that excess glucose into fat. Intermittent fasting can help optimize the release of key fat-burning hormones like insulin in your body as well as another key player human growth hormone (HGH). HGH switches on your body’s fat-burning furnace enabling your body to access the calories needed from stored body fat. Some studies have shown that fasting can significantly increase HGH production.
There are several other additional benefits of Intermittent fasting like reducing calorie intake, in general most people will eat less when the window of time that you can eat during the day is reduced. During the fat burning stage of your fast your body goes into ketosis, giving you the additional benefits of ketosis such as increased energy supply to the brain.
When your insulin and blood sugar levels are working in harmony this may help correct other hormonal imbalances and in turn give you the extra benefit of reduced cravings and hunger pangs. Intermittent Fasting also targets visceral fat, that hard, dangerous internal fat that sits around your abdomen impacting your organs.
By reducing visceral fat, you will undoubtably improve other metabolic markers such as cholesterol and blood pressure which in turn reduces cardiovascular risk.
Inflammatory markers are also reduced, high inflammatory markers will eventually lead to chronic illness. If this is not one of the best ways to support healthy ageing, then I don’t know what is.
It would be extremely easy to incorporate intermittent fasting into phase 3 of the hCG diet and continue your weight loss journey. This could set you up for consistent sustainable weight loss and weight maintenance once you reach your weight loss goals.
Please note that if an intermittent fasting diet causes fatigue or other negative symptoms, try starting slowly. Just fasting one or two days a week and then build up from there. As mentioned above, work with a health professional to determine the best fasting guide for you.
I would also recommend planning meals ahead of time, this will prevent you from potentially binge eating foods high in carbohydrates. This doesn’t have to be you partaking in the next, newest fad diet, this could be you living your best life for you and for your family.
Adv Dip Health Science Naturopathy, Nutrition