Intermittent fasting has gained tons of popularity lately, and for good reason. It is an effective way to maintain or lose weight, and it can be a lot easier than traditional fasting. However, it isn’t for everyone, so be sure to consider all of your options before making any decisions.
The primary function of intermittent fasting is weight loss. By controlling your caloric intake and introducing eating windows throughout the day, your body will begin to shed unnecessary weight. It’s a great alternative to traditional fasting as it won’t leave you feeling exhausted or sluggish throughout the day.
It may sound a bit complicated, but we’re here to help throughout the entire process. It takes time for your body to adjust to new routines, especially diets. Below, you’ll find background information about intermittent fasting, the different methods of fasting, and how much weight you can lose.
Intermittent fasting dates back to the earliest humans in hunter-gatherer societies. While these ancient civilizations didn’t practice fasting for weight loss, it allowed our bodies to evolve to go long periods without food.
Modern times, drive thrus, and convience foods mean we live in a world where we eat from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep. This creates a day full of blood sugar spikes and dips which our body can't cope with long term.
Thankfully, we no longer have to hunt and gather our food. But, the idea of intermittent fasting remains the same: short windows of time throughout the day or week where you can eat while leaving the rest of the day for your body to burn more fat and trigger innate healing opportunities.
After hours without food, the body starts to run out of its stored sugars and burn fat (ketones). Intermittent fasting allows you to eat at select times during the day to keep your energy levels high and avoid dropping to an unhealthy blood sugar level (which is what your body uses for fuel).
While most diets focus on the type of food you can eat, intermittent fasting focuses on when you can eat. This shift in focus doesn’t mean you should eat whatever you want during your eating window, as unhealthy foods and empty calories can derail your weight loss plan no matter how often you eat them. Stick to eating healthy foods and staying active to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting.
You’re probably wondering about the different methods of intermittent fasting. There’s a lot, so we’ve selected our personal favorites and what we believe to be the most effective.
If you’re considering starting an intermittent fasting diet, we encourage you to read the suggestions listed below closely.
Some styles are a little more moderate, while others can be very intense. Each method has pros and cons, so keep this in mind when deciding which method best aligns with your needs.
If you're new to fasting, the best thing to do is start with 12 hours - so from 7pm to 7am so your blood sugar doesn't suddenly plummet and you feel faint. Each week, push the morning back by 30 minutes so your body has time to adjust switching it's fuel sources - think of your body like a hybrid car. Break your fast with health options such as avocados, eggs, salmon, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms or other good quality protein.
Also note that menstruating women should NOT follow at fasting schedule every day as hormonal balance can be disrupted. Focus on fasting mostly on the first 10 days of your cycle and then again on days 16-20. It's not advised to fast at all the week before your period starts as progesterone levels might be affected.
If you’re looking to start slow and ease your way into intermittent fasting, the 16/8 method is a good place to start. It’s the simplest and most popular out of every strategy on this list.
The 16/8 method entails a 16 hour fasting period and an 8 hour eating period throughout the day. You can easily fit in two healthy meals separated by 4 hours during the 8-hour window. Additionally, healthy snacks like fruit and protein bars can also help subside your cravings if you end up getting too hungry, particularly in the beginning.
If you think about it, you can break down the 16/8 method like this: if you’re getting 7-hours of sleep every night, those hours automatically count towards your fasting period. If you choose to have your eating window starting at 9 am or 10 am, you can easily fit in a healthy breakfast and a late lunch or early dinner.
The 16/8 method is a simple and easy way to kick off your intermittent fasting journey.
If you’ve never tried a fasting-oriented diet before, the eat-stop-eat (ESE) might be challenging for you, but it is also the most effective. With the ESE method, you pick two days out of the week for a 24 hour fast.
If your body is not adjusted to going long periods without food, the first few weeks of ESE will be difficult. However, the fasting periods don’t have to be and shouldn’t be consecutive, so you can spread them out however you please.
A full 24 hours might seem like a long time to go without food. It can be, but your body will adapt, and it will get easier. The ESE method is also the most effective, as two full 24 hour fasting periods give your body a lot more time to burn sugars and fat.
If you’re new to fasting and the ESE method sounds more appealing to you than the 16/8, we recommend starting slow. Instead of a full day, an 18-20 hour fasting window is an excellent place to start if you find 24 hours too difficult to manage.
While telling your family and friends that you’re on a “warrior diet” sounds cool in theory, this method will test you, unlike any other diet you’ve ever tried. The warrior diet fully embodies the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, as these people would often not eat throughout the day until they managed to bring back enough food.
The warrior diet involves a 20-hour fasting period every day, followed by a 4-hour overeating period. The warrior diet is highly effective because the 20-hour fast gives your body plenty of time to digest and burn fat before replenishing during the eating period. You can eat as much as you want to during this time to ensure you have the energy to make it through the day.
If you are new to fasting diets, we don’t recommend starting with this one. If you have tried fasting before and are curious about what this method can do for you, you might give it a shot for a week or two and then see how you feel.
Now that you know about three popular and helpful ways to fast intermittently, you’re probably wondering how effective they are. Unfortunately, their effectiveness will depend on many factors, such as age, sex, weight, which method you choose, and how meticulously you follow it.
If the diet is followed correctly and consistently, you can lose as much as half a pound to a pound and a half each week. This would equal roughly 2-4 pounds a month. Remember, this calculation does not account for your bodily movement. If you consistently stay active while following intermittent fasting, you can lose as much as 6-8 pounds per month.
This estimation is shockingly high when you consider that all you have to do is not eat for select hours throughout the day. It might be easier said than done, but once your body gets adjusted to the diet, you may find you hardly notice it. If you keep at it, you’ll achieve your weight loss goal in no time.
When you focus on eating good fats, proteins and natural carbs during your eating windows, your hunger and cravings will dissipate, and your energy levels will go up.
Intermittent fasting is a great weight loss tool, especially once your body gets adjusted. But how can you keep track of all the progress you’re making with intermittent fasting or just a new weight loss routine in general?
As you begin your intermittent fasting period, you will need a place to record what you’re eating, track your progress, and see an estimated date for when you will meet your goal.
That’s why we created Able.
Able is a straightforward and easy-to-use weight loss partner that can help you achieve your health goals, no matter how big or small. Whether it’s intermittent fasting, other exercise routines that will help you with weight loss or gain, or just a better diet, Able is by your side every step of the way.
All you need to do is record your health information and goals, and Able can give you an accurate estimate of when you will hit your goal, whether it’s weight loss or gain. You can think of Able as your helper for all things health!