Should you try Intermittent Fasting for weight or fat loss?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) seems to be growing in popularity as a strategy for weight and fat loss. More and more commonly, it's a topic I discuss during nutrition consulting sessions. For a very long time I was a major skeptic of this method; however, I have now (somewhat) adjusted my perspective.
Do a quick Google search, and you will find copious amounts of information on IF. There are even plenty of PubMed articles that herald the multiple health benefits, aside from improved body composition and weight loss. (Find an excellent, free article here). But, the question remains - is it something you should try? I will start out by offering a reminder of my scope: I am a Licensed Nutrition Specialist, not a doctor or dietitian. Any advice I give here, should be taken as my opinion, and my observations based on clients I've worked with. Of course, I recommend asking your doctor about your individual case before attempting any major dietary changes.
Next, I think it's important to define what IF really is. There are a few main methods nutritionists and dietitians use, but I will only speak on the method I favor. (Find a good article on alternate methods here). In this article, the authors refer to the "16/8" method;" and here's how they describe it: "Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between." (I favor a 10-6 p.m. window instead).
When I suggest this as a strategy for weight/fat loss for clients, I typically recommend easing into it. We usually begin with a 12 hour fast during the night. Then, once that feels more comfortable, we do 14 hours, and then 16. If clients see good benefits and reach their goals with a 14 hour fast, we never move to 16 hours.
Fasting helps reduce weight and body fat in a variety of ways, but the most prominent are:
- Eating during specific hours helps decrease overall caloric consumption.
- During extended hours of fasting, our bodies are usually able to access more and more body fat to be used as fuel.
Refer to the latest article link I provided for even more ways IF helps.
So, is IF for you? My answer? - really don't know. But, the only way to find out is to try it. If you think you may be up for it, the only way to know if it can work for your body is to give it a go. (Again, consult your physician first). However, IF is most certainly not for everyone (individuals with eating disorders, women who are pregnant or breast feeding, women in menopause, etc. should all probably avoid this method).
Cheers to reaching your health and fitness goals!