Struggling To Lose Weight & Keep It Off? Here's How Intermittent Fasting Can Help
It’s no secret that typical calorie restriction tends to be miserably unsustainable, as determined dieters meticulously log every bite of food they consume. Many of them end up bingeing or consuming low-calorie frankenfoods in an attempt to fill an ever-expanding ravenous black hole. But what if I told you there was a way to indulge without restriction while stoking the fires of your metabolism, boosting energy, saying goodbye to cravings, and likely losing even more weight than with typical dieting?
With intermittent fasting (popularly known as IF), you simply restrict the hours you eat each day rather than what you eat. No conscious "dieting" required! There are many IF approaches, such as the common 16-8 protocol (when you eat in an eight-hour window, for example, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.) or the one-meal-a-day pattern (in which you eat everything in one meal, such as lunch or dinner). But as long as you're doing it for at least 12 hours, you should get a lot of the benefits.
1. Effortless fat burning.
While typical diets often yield lackluster results replete with weight regain, practicing IF fosters sustainable, automatic fat burning, often generating greater weight loss than typical calorie-restricted diets despite similar calorie intakes! You see, when you go around 12 hours without eating, your body senses that food isn’t coming in and effectively deals with it by upregulating metabolic pathways that encourage fat burning. Your body switches from relying on transient energy from your last meal (aka energy from carbs are stored with limited capacity in the liver as glycogen) to almost unending fat stores. After all, the average person stores enough fat to walk 1,000 miles. We might as well use some of that!
2. No more insatiable hunger.
In case you’re wondering, you won’t be hungry when you enter this wonderful, fat-burning mode. As your bloodstream grows rich with fatty acids from body fat, as well as supplemental energy sources called "ketones," hunger fades away. After all, your brain isn’t going to hit you with hunger signals if you’ve got adequate fuel coming in—even if it’s from within! As for ketones, they’re like superfuel for the body, generating steady, clean-burning energy with less toxic by-products than glucose (which is great for the brain).
3. No restriction of food groups or macronutrients.
So what about when you do actually eat? Typical diets often require restricting certain food groups or macronutrients, leaving you constantly salivating for what you can’t have. With IF, however, you don’t have to change what you eat, just when you eat! In fact, some studies find eating in time-restricted windows can even mitigate the effects of calorie overconsumption and discourage weight gain. Of course, I encourage you to embrace healthy whole foods to further boost health and vitality.
4. More energy to take on the day (and the gym).
Despite what you might think, you won’t be lying around in a melodramatically lethargic state of energy depletion with IF. Since you won’t be relying on fluctuating carbohydrate stores or constant food intake—but rather stable and substantial fat stores—IF provides consistent energy, leaving you fueled rather than drained!
5. Stronger willpower to make healthy choices.
Studies consistently show that, unlike typical dieters, those who practice IF tend to stick to it! This isn’t very surprising, given IF’s effectiveness. It has also been theorized that our daily willpower stores are literally limited, so typical diets—in which you must constantly deprive yourself—quickly drain these reserves. IF removes the constant decisions of what and when to eat, leaving you with abundant willpower for the more important decisions in life.
6. A metabolism that works for you instead of against you.
Supporting the metabolism is key for diet sustainability, and typical dieting slows the metabolism as your body adjusts its metabolic rate to match your lowered calorie intake. By eating all your food without restriction in time windows, however, IF actually supports the metabolism. (A person’s "metabolic rate" is determined by overall calorie consumption in a given day: It doesn’t matter if you eat all at once, over a few hours, or constantly.) Studies often find that IF does not negatively affect metabolism and actually may increase the metabolic rate.
7. Increased longevity.
Sustainable life span support? Yes, please. Despite its aforementioned misery, calorie-restriction in general has been shown to boost health span and discourage disease. Thankfully, eating all your meals in time windows, without consciously restricting calories, has been shown to yield similar benefits and may even supersede them.
The bottom line? Feel free to say goodbye to dieting! The key to sustainable weight loss and subsequent maintenance is finding a dietary pattern that nourishes you, fuels you, and supports health and longevity. Changing when you eat, not what you eat or how much you eat provides a perfect way to get there, resulting in a snowball effect of increased productivity, vitality, and success. I don't know about you, but I'm OK with never dieting again.
Have questions about fasting? We have answers. Here's mbg's definitive guide to fasting.