- Intermittent fasting is an approach where you restrict the amount of food you eat during set time periods.
- The benefits of intermittent fasting can include improved weight loss success, as well as benefits for your memory and cardiovascular system.
- Intermittent fasting may not be the best weight loss strategy for everyone, as it can be difficult to adjust to and can cause hunger, fatigue, and irritability.
- A holistic weight loss program is a great way to incorporate positive lifestyle changes that supplement intermittent fasting and boost your weight loss success.
Although intermittent fasting for weight loss has seemed to quickly gain popularity as a strategy, this approach to healthy weight management appears to be more than just hype. In fact, fasting as a weight loss strategy has solid scientific backing, as it can help you eat fewer calories and even positively impact your metabolism.
Still, intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone, and some people may struggle to implement this approach into their lifestyle. For people who do benefit from intermittent fasting, taking a holistic approach can provide even more weight loss and health benefits.
Before you commit to adding intermittent fasting into your routine, you should consider a few things about its effectiveness and potential drawbacks.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a weight management strategy that involves switching between a period of fasting and a period of eating on a regular schedule with set times. Typically, during a fast, you won’t eat anything. You should stick to drinking water or indulging in zero-calorie drinks—we recommend drinking hot tea, coffee, or sugar-free carbonated beverages to blunt cravings or hunger pangs.
Outside of your fast, you can eat whatever you like, but you should still make sure to stick to healthy foods and avoid overindulging—otherwise, you may be working against your fast with a hefty calorie spike.
There are many different methods for incorporating intermittent fasting into your routine and several splits you can follow, and what works for one person may not work for everyone.
Some of the most popular approaches for fasting include:
- Alternate-day fasting – This method involves eating a normal, healthy diet one day, fasting completely the next, and then alternating throughout the week. During fast days, you might eat a small meal of 500 calories or fewer.
- 5-2 fasting – In a 5-2 breakdown, you eat regularly for five days of the week and fast for two days.
- Daily time-restricted fasting – This approach involves eating as you normally would but containing all your meals in a restricted time window each day, with the most common being an 8-hour window.
How Intermittent Fasting Supports Weight Loss
At a foundational level, weight loss happens when you burn more calories than you consume—also known as a caloric deficit. Because you eat fewer meals throughout the day, intermittent fasting helps you achieve a caloric deficit and promotes weight loss by requiring the body to burn off fat stores as fuel.
Generally, someone who maintains a consistent intermittent fasting routine has less opportunity to overeat than someone who doesn’t, making them more likely to lose weight. By supporting this natural metabolic process, intermittent fasting is often a better alternative to other weight loss approaches.
Intermittent fasting may also promote weight loss by improving the balance of hormones associated with fat-burning. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting supports healthy levels of hormones like insulin, norepinephrine, and human growth hormone.
It’s important to note that intermittent fasting may not provide optimal results for weight loss if your caloric intake during the times that you do eat is high.
Other Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Weight management is not the only potential benefit of intermittent fasting. Many people turn to intermittent fasting as an option for promoting their health in a variety of ways, as studies have shown that intermittent fasting can offer several additional advantages for overall wellness.
Key health benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- Improved memory – In some studies, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve long-term memory and promote enhanced cognitive function.
- Heart health – Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve blood pressure, resting heart rate, and cholesterol levels.
- Enhanced physical performance – Some studies show that fasting may improve performance in exercise and sports, although more studies are needed to determine to what degree.
- Support against type 2 diabetes – Intermittent fasting promotes healthy blood sugar by supporting healthy insulin levels.
- Tissue health – Intermittent fasting may support healthy cells to minimize tissue damage and promote tissue regeneration, which is important for functions like wound healing and muscle growth.
Potential Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is generally considered a safe and effective approach to weight management. That said, intermittent fasting is a big lifestyle adjustment, and making a significant change to your diet can result in potential side effects.
Some side effects of intermittent fasting include:
- Decreased concentration
Keep in mind that everyone is different, so it is possible to perform intermittent fasting without experiencing considerable side effects. For some people, intermittent fasting may just take some adjustment. For example, you may find yourself hungrier when you first begin, but your body can often adjust within a couple of weeks.
Additional Considerations for Intermittent Fasting
Although the side effects of intermittent fasting are not extreme for most people, it’s important to consider your health and safety before you jump right into it. Depending on your lifestyle, intermittent fasting may pose some health risks, and there are some cases where it’s not recommended.
Key considerations for intermittent fasting include:
- Social settings may make it difficult to maintain your fast.
- Fasting may lead to overeating and indulging outside of their fast periods.
- It’s not recommended for people who have an eating disorder like anorexia.
- People with a history of low blood sugar may face risks from fasting.
- Fasting isn’t recommended for people who are underweight.
- Fasting may affect the hormone balance of men and women differently.
Ultimately, If you’re considering adding intermittent fasting to your weight loss strategy, you shouldn’t decide on a whim. Always be sure to consult your healthcare provider to make sure it’s a safe and healthy approach for you.
Manage Your Weight with re:vitalize
Intermittent fasting for weight loss can be a valuable tool when you choose an approach that works for you and your lifestyle. Still, intermittent fasting may not be for everyone and can be a difficult lifestyle change to implement or maintain. Whether intermittent fasting works for you or not, you can also benefit greatly from the support of a holistic weight loss program.
re:vitalize holistic weight loss and wellness programs help you sustain weight loss without a massive lifestyle shift. Instead, our in-person and virtual weight loss programs focus simply on eating more nutritious whole foods while receiving personalized support and coaching from our expert health coaches and board-certified nutritionists to help you succeed.
re:vitalize uses unique BioScan™ technology to identify the unique nutrients that are optimal for your weight loss success. With this information, you can build a nutrition plan that fits your personalized needs and tastes.
Schedule a consultation with us today to get started on your journey to sustainable weight loss.