Is Intermittent Fasting Effective
What is all the talk about Intermittent Fasting (IF)? Is this a new fad diet, the next new craze here today and tomorrow like some other diets? Is this not just calorie counting? And most of all, can IF help with weight loss at all? Is it effective, and are there results to be seen?
What is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is when food, calories are the key, is not consumed for a specific time. That is a simple definition, and IF is that simple. An eating window is a set time when food is consumed, and the non-eating window is when food is not consumed. The eating window is usually much shorter than the non-eating window by design. The reason for a shorter eating window will be explained in the How Intermittent Fasting Works. Once the how is explained, you can understand all the benefits that will answer the intermittent fasting effectiveness.
IF is a lifestyle change, there is not an intermittent fasting diet. It is
The different types of fasting and there are many, so choosing one that fits should not be a problem.
12:12 is eating in a 12-hour window and not eating for 12 hours.
10:14 is eating in a 10-hour window and not eating for 14 hours.
8:16 is eating in an 8-hour window and not eating for 16 hours.
4:20, sometimes called the worrier, is eating in a 4-hour window and not eating for 20 hours.
OMAD is one meal a day, sometimes called the warrior diet.
24 hour fast, not eating for 24 continuous hours.
36 hour fast, not eating for 36 continuous hours.
48 hour fast, not eating for 48 continuous hours.
Anything over 48 hours is not recommended, as this can have adverse health effects.
Some variations can also be incorporated with days like one day of fasting, also known as a fasting day, and the next off, known as non fasting days, or fast for two days and one day off. There are many types of fasting and mixed with days on and off open up endless combinations. Therefore finding a fasting pattern or intermittent fasting plan that fits should not be that hard to find.
How Intermittent Fasting Works
Before going into the how IF works, let’s address the elephant in the room, which is the concept of IF being a fad. IF has been around for millions of years without humans really knowing about it but putting it into practice. For 99.8% of the time humans have been on Earth, the eating pattern was one meal a day or less. This is IF, which is built into all of us from evolution. To survive on one meal a day or less over millions of years, the body had to make a mechanism to store food away for you later. Insulin is the trigger for the body to take some of the food consumed and store for later use. Without this mechanism for food, storage humans would have had a much more difficult time surviving. Going extended periods without food can be difficult on the body. With no reserve energy, we could have easily starved.
Intermittent fasting works for weight loss on a couple of different levels. It is not a starvation concept but allowing the body to work as it was built for over millions of years. The most significant concept around intermittent fasting is the reduction and insulin levels for long periods. Insulin is released into the body when food is consumed for two reasons. The first reason, the more commonly known, is to maintain sugar levels. The second reason is to place the body into fat retention mode, which is key to weight loss.
By intermittent fasting, insulin levels are lowered, which then puts the body into fat-burning mode. The body is always requiring a certain amount of energy, and with no food in the system, the body will go to stored energy reserves using them until the food is consumed again. By eating three meals a day plus snacks, insulin levels remain high, which keeps the body in fat retention mode, which equates to packing on pounds for future use. The body is just doing its job storing fat away for future energy needs. In today’s world, we can continuously consume food keeping insulin levels high, keeping the body in a constant fat retention mode. We are essentially defining evolution at the flip of a switch that is not working out well as the obesity rate is currently at 42.4%.
Now to the central question of this article, which is, is Intermittent Fasting Effective.
The scientific community has yet to give a blessing that intermittent fasting is effective. However, there’s so much evidence out there pointing to its effectiveness that the scientific community has to wake up. I have personally used intermittent fasting to lose 65 pounds over eight months and have been able to maintain this weight loss now for over three years. In addition, I have trained numerous individuals using an intermittent fasting approach; all have had successful weight loss and have been able to maintain weight loss with no difficulties.
First, here are some of the benefits of IF, which by themselves show effectiveness.
This is a pretty basic principle in that it takes effort to process food through the digestive system, which applies stress to your system. The more you eat, the more pressure you’re putting on your system to keep up. At one point, this was thought to be helpful and beneficial to the body because digestion requires energy. This is called the thermic effect of food, but we now know that the amount of calories needed to digest food is far smaller than the calories consumed.
By continually eating, you have never given your body a chance to digest food because it is always being added. An overlap of food from back-to-back meals causes the body to not absorb or use the nutrients from these foods that are either passed through the digestive tract or stored into body fat. Either way, this is not good for your body.
Overloading the digestive tract is no different than overloading anything else. Too much is too much to handle, which causes secondary issues. This includes less energy, diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramping, inflammation, weight gain, and heartburn. There can be many more issues that are caused by overloading the digestive system, but these are the more common ones.
Not getting all technical or sciency, but when the body goes into a fasting state, an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is released. This particular enzyme is responsible for cell repair and the burning of fats.
Better Brain Function
In a fasting state, the body becomes more aware, and less cognitive performance decline increases brain health.
Better Way To Measure Caloric Intake
Participating in intermittent fasting is time restricted eating, which changes the eating pattern with fewer meals. Skipping breakfast to shorten the eating window, sometimes called the fasting window, is the most common change. Eating fewer meals is a calorie restriction benefit, two versus three. Calorie intake is the other key component to fat loss. Fewer calories allow for more fat to be burned.
Many other benefits like hormone growth, increased metabolism, cellular cleanup, reduced inflammation, increased insulin sensitivity (better insulin resistance), and many others like it does not cost anything to participate in fasting. There are no gym memberships, no fancy programs, no subscriptions, and no special foods needed to begin and use intermittent fasting. It can be a lifesaver for the cost of $0. Where else can you get something like that?
Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease
The above description outlines how intermittent fasting works, and from this, you can see the first and foremost benefit is weight loss. As described above, insulin control is a huge part of when the body goes into fat retention mode or fat-burning mode. By lowering the insulin levels for long periods, the body will automatically burn fat as an energy source.
This is a clear path to weight loss, and using this tactic will lower fat levels in the body, which introduces an entirely new set of overwhelmingly positive benefits. Excessive weight is problematic for the body in so many ways, and reducing weight provides benefits that will astound you. These include lowering the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, the leading cause of death in the US and the world is heart disease and represents about 700K deaths in the US each year and growing.
There are many heart disease forms, but the primary type is coronary heart disease, which equates to almost 400K deaths. Coronary heart disease is one particular type that develops when the heart’s arteries are not able to deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The restriction is caused by plaque buildup in the arteries. This plaque is a combination of fat and cholesterol. High cholesterol is mainly caused by weight, and fat in the bloodstream is caused by fat. Eliminating fat in the body will reduce/eliminate the body’s plaque and thus reduce coronary heart disease and most other forms of heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, the medical society and government classify the leading cause of death in the US and world as heart disease, but this is not accurate. The leading cause of death should be labeled obesity, which causes heart disease. If this were the case, then more attention would be placed on obesity. Lose weight and lose the heart disease issue.
Lower Risk Of Cancer
The second leading cause of death in the US and world is cancer. It is estimated that 20% of all cancer cases are caused or contributed to obesity, which is 1 in 5. Obesity has a higher risk factor for certain types of cancers: breast, colon, skin, prostate, ovarian, and liver. One study found that 13 types of cancer are related to obesity. The additional cancers are those just listed plus upper stomach, gallbladder, pancreatic, kidney, multiple myeloma, esophagus, and uterine.
Cancer is responsible for approximately 600K deaths in the US. A 20% reduction is 120K fewer deaths each year. Many cancers can be avoided by weight loss, which is a primary benefit of intermittent fasting.
Reducing The Chance of Diabetes
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. This number could be understated due to the fact that 1 in 10 has diabetes, 1 in 3 has prediabetes, and there are potentially millions that have either prediabetes or diabetes that don’t know they have it. The effects of diabetes on the body are many, from circulation issues to kidney damage to blindness and a lot more.
These effects will impact one or more parts of the body and diminish functionality, affecting another part due to the diminished function from the first part. An example of this is circulation that can increase blood pressure. Once this is impacted, other parts of the body are affected by increased blood pressure, such as heart disease. Many combinations can be put together from diabetes like this example.
How diabetes develops from obesity is simple; the fat reduces insulin sensitivity, making insulin less effective in regulating blood sugar levels. Or another way of saying this is the fat gets in the way of letting insulin do its job. This can be avoided by losing weight using an intermittent fasting program.
Other Benefits Are
Lowering blood pressure and lowering cholesterol, both total and LDL. Both of these are directly contributed to weight, the more weight, the harder the heart has to work, and the more blood pressure will be increased. Cholesterol and more specific LDL cholesterol are increased by the liver in an obese state. Also, the additional weight reduces the liver’s ability to clear out LDL cholesterol. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can be avoided simply by reducing excess weight in the body, which is also a primary benefit of intermittent fasting.
The Effectiveness Is Also Shown In Weight Loss
It all comes down to insulin levels, which is the key to weight loss. I will use myself as an example to demonstrate how effective intermittent fasting is. When I first tried to lose weight, I did a traditional diet, consumed approximately 2700 calories per day throughout three meals a day, and had an exercise program. My weight loss was stagnant at best, losing a total of five pounds over three months. The frustrating part is I gain those five pounds back as soon as I quit my diet. Does this sound familiar?
Once I learned about intermittent fasting, I kept all the variables the same as the previous did with 2700 calories per day and the same exercise program. The difference being is I consume 2700 calories inside of an 8-hour eating window. The results are 65 pounds over eight months. Weight maintenance is now straightforward, and no weight has been gained back.
Intermittent fasting is effective for weight loss. Other strong results in other areas also come into play with weight loss, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing the chances of diabetes, reducing chances of heart disease, and many other benefits as described above. Our bodies were not built to carry excess weight nor eat continuously throughout the day. This statement is proven because we only ate once a day or less for millions of years, and obesity is a recent issue.
Try IF and see the results. It costs nothing and produces excellent results for weight loss and other weight-related health issues.