Unless you have an unusually high metabolism that allows you to eat what you’d like without worry, losing weight and keeping it off can be quite a challenge. If you’re like more than 70% of American adults who are overweight or obese, and you’d like to reduce your pants size, not just for aesthetic reasons, but also to reap the numerous health benefits of being slimmer, the expert bariatric surgeons at IBI Healthcare Institute can help. We understand your struggle, and want to share some useful information about how intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and benefit your health.
It’s important to note that before you embark on any type of fasting or weight loss program, you should first seek a medical consultation with one of our board-certified physicians so you can embrace a weight loss solution that’s best for you.
Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet, it’s an eating pattern
Several methods of intermittent fasting (IF) are gaining momentum in the United States for their overall weight loss and health benefits. Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet, but essentially an eating pattern in which you cycle between spans of eating and abstaining from food. Some popular IF methods involve fasting for 16-24 hours at a time, twice a week.
Three popular intermittent fasting programs are:
- The 5:2 diet: This fasting method recommends you consume 500-600 calories on two nonconsecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other five days. So, for example, you would eat a calorie-restricted diet every Monday and Thursday, but consume a regular amount of food all other days.
- The 16/8 method: With this fasting method, you restrict your daily food intake to an eight-hour time frame, such as 8am-4pm, or noon-8pm. You fast during the remaining 16 hours each day.
- Eat-stop-eat: This type of IF involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice each week. For example, you’d stop eating from dinner one day until dinnertime the next day.
An essential component of these fasting methods is that you don’t overcompensate during the time you do consume food. In most cases, if you stick to one of these plans and make healthy nutritional choices rather than consuming high-fat foods or sugary desserts, you should lose weight and reap the health benefits.
Many people who’ve tried intermittent fasting protocols agree that the 16/8 method is the simplest and easiest fasting plan to maintain.
Why fasting? Why not just eat healthier foods?
According to research conducted by the University of Alabama, eating only during an eight-hour period each day, and fasting the other 16 hours, led to lower insulin levels in men who were prediabetic. The results indicated that the same group of men also lowered their blood pressure. And, these participants reported a decrease in appetite over the five-week period they took part in the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting, so they didn’t feel like they were starving.
This suggests that not only does IF have health benefits like lowering blood pressure and insulin levels, but this particular fasting method is sustainable. That’s an essential factor when it comes to finding a diet or nutritional plan you can stick with for more than a few weeks.
Why a decrease in insulin is so important to weight loss
So, why are lower insulin levels important? When you eat, enzymes break down food in your stomach so the food molecules eventually make their way into your bloodstream. Carbohydrates, as you may be aware, quickly break down into sugars so your cells can use them as energy.
But, when you eat too many carbs and you don’t burn all that energy, your fat cells store these leftover sugars as fat. Sugar can only enter into your cells when insulin is present, so therefore, when your insulin levels go down — like they do when you fast — your body doesn’t store the extra insulin as fat. Rather, your cells release their stored sugars and you lose weight!
The health benefits of intermittent fasting are plentiful
Weight loss and diabetes prevention top the list of benefits that come from intermittent fasting. Additional health benefits include:
- Potential metabolism increase so you burn more calories
- Hormonal changes that facilitate weight loss
- Reduced appetite and therefore reduced overall caloric intake
- Decreased waist size and loss of harmful belly fat
- Less muscle loss than with continuous calorie-restrictive diets
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Increase in brain hormones that may help prevent Alzheimer’s
- Lower blood pressure
Again, it’s important to make healthy choices during the time periods when you’re not fasting, which not only aids in your weight loss success, but in your overall health and wellness, too. A better weight can mean a healthier, longer, more fulfilling life.
If you’re considering an intermittent fasting plan, our doctors and health care team are committed to providing the medical and emotional support you need to reach your weight loss goals. Give one of our three Atlanta area offices a call to schedule a consultation, or use the convenient online booking tool.
- Healthline: Intermittent Fasting 101
- Harvard Health Publishing: Intermittent Fasting: Surprising Update
- James Clear: The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
- Medical News Today: How To Begin Intermittent Fasting
- Diet Doctor: Intermittent Fasting For Beginners