There are countless fad diets out there that all claim to have the same outcome… lose weight and improve your health. Sound familiar? Many of those are exactly what they sound like, FADS! Generally speaking the “quick fix” in the health and wellness industry does not lead to sustainable results in the long run. You see a large number of people that lose a bunch of weight on a crash diet and then gain it back in no time.
Intermittent fasting is a very popular trend to follow nowadays. Sure you may have heard of it, but what exactly is intermittent fasting? “Intermittent fasting is a diet regimen that cycles between brief periods of fasting, with either no food or significant calorie reduction, and periods of unrestricted eating. It is promoted to change body composition through loss of fat mass and weight, and to improve markers of health that are associated with disease such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels” (1).
Intermittent fasting differs from traditional fasting in the sense that you will eat eventually. “Prolonged very low calorie diets can cause physiological changes that may cause the body to adapt to the calorie restriction and therefore prevent further weight loss.  Intermittent fasting attempts to address this problem by cycling between a low calorie level for a brief time followed by normal eating, which may prevent these adaptations. However, research does not consistently show that intermittent fasting is superior to continuous low calorie diets for weight loss efficiency” (1).
How do you do intermittent fasting? – There are 3 popular methods. (2)
- The 16/8 Method:Skip breakfast every day and eat during an 8-hour feeding window, such as from 12 noon to 8 pm.
- Eat-Stop-Eat:Do one or two 24-hour fasts each week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 Diet:Only eat 500-600 calories on two days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
What is Intermittent Fasting supposed to do to your body?
When we don’t eat, the body adapts and attempts to use stored energy (fat) that we already have. In addition to trying to use the fat stores we already have, Intermittent Fasting changes other parts of your body such as:
- Insulin:Insulin increases when we eat. When we fast, insulin decreases dramatically (4). Lower levels of insulin facilitate fat burning.
- Human growth hormone (HGH):Levels of growth hormone may skyrocket during a fast, increasing as much as 5-fold (5, 6). Growth hormone is a hormone that can aid fat loss and muscle gain, among other things (7, 8, 9).
- Norepinephrine (noradrenaline):The nervous system sends norepinephrine to the fat cells, making them break down body fat into free fatty acids that can be burned for energy (10, 11).
What does all of this mean?
“Short-term fasting leads to several changes in the body that make fat burning easier. This includes reduced insulin, increased growth hormone, enhanced epinephrine signaling and a small boost in metabolism” (2). Intermittent fasting also helps restrict calories taken in by skipping meals during fasting periods, and may help to hold onto muscle. (2)
The Harvard study referenced in this blog post states that they have not found any definitive evidence that Intermittent Fasting works. However, at Heuser Health, we have many members that have tried this regiment and have seen great results. There is no real issues we see with trying it on our end, so if you are stuck in your progress see what happens!