Intermittent fasting for weight loss? Isn’t that for those scary hardcore fitness people? You know, the ones flipping over those big tires and doing that crazy ninja fitness stuff?
I used to think so until I was trying out different diets for women and came across intermittent fasting for weight loss. It’s now my favorite, go-to plan to lose weight and drop that pesky belly fat.
I love intermittent fasting so much, I created an easy guide and tracker you can use for your intermittent fast. You can get your copy at the end of the post.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
2. Why Intermittent Fast?
3. How does Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss Work?
4. Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
5. How to Intermittent Fast
6. 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
7. 24 Hour Intermittent Fasting
8. What Can I Eat During a Fast?
9. Starting Your First Fast?
10. Get Your Printable Tracker and Quick Start Guide
First of all, intermittent fasting is not a diet. It’s a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so your body gets the most out of them.
You basically limit the hours that you eat each day to a specific window. You eat the same number of calories over the course of a day that you normally would eat, but you just eat them within that specified window.
You are not changing what you are eating. There is no requirement to count calories or carbs, or to stay away from particular food groups.
The main reason people intermittent fast is to lose fat. And you can lose fat even when you’re eating the same amount of calories that you normally do. Most people eat bigger meals, but eat fewer meals. Think, eating two larger meals a day instead of three smaller ones.
Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose fat without going on a crazy, restrictive diet or cutting your calories down to a level that you feel like you’re starving. You don’t even have to increase your exercise time when you’re intermittent fasting for weight loss to see results.
Intermittent fasting also works so well, because it doesn’t require a huge behavior shift. You can eat the same foods you normally do, you just shift when you eat them.
I love intermittent fasting for this reason! It’s simple enough for me to do long-term, and it actually works because I will do it because it’s not a huge change in the way I eat.
Intermittent fasting works by changing the amount of time your body is not busy digesting and absorbing food.
It helps to know a few definitions to understand how intermittent fasting works.
The Fed State
After you eat a meal, it takes your body three to five hours to digest and absorb the food you just ate. During this digesting state, it’s hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high. This is called the fed state.
The Post-Absorptive State
In the post-absorptive state, your body has finished processing (and absorbing) your meal. This state lasts until about 8-12 hours after you finished eating your last meal.
The Fasted State
The fasted state starts after the post-absorptive state. In the fasted state, your body can burn fat that your body has stored easily because your insulin levels are low. Most people enter the fasted state about 12 hours after their last meal.
So, by intermittent fasting, you are keeping your body in the fasted state for a longer period of time so your body can burn that fat off more easily! That’s why intermittent fasting for weight loss is so genius!
Understanding how fasting works was HUGE for me! I’d always heard it was easier to lose weight by eating smaller meals, spread out over the day.
But, by constantly grazing and eating small meals, your body never has a chance to make it to the fasted state, where it’s easier to burn fat. So I was basically sabotaging my weight and fat loss all these years!
There really are so many fasting benefits besides weight loss. People have been fasting for centuries for both health and religious reasons. And there’s actually scientific evidence behind these benefits. These are links to just some of the studies touting fasting’s health benefits.
- Fat loss and weight loss! Most notably around your belly. This is probably why most people try intermittent fasting! Fasting increases your metabolic rate.
- Fasting activates autophagy. Autophagy occurs when cells repair themselves. Autophagy is so important that a Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded in 2016 for the study of the mechanisms of this process.
- Brain Health. Fasting may have important brain health benefits because it increases the growth of new neurons and can protect the brain from damage.
- Reduction in Type 2 Diabetes because it helps lower your blood sugar levels thus reducing insulin resistance.
- Reduction in Inflammation and cell damage in the body. This can protect against numerous diseases and can even slow the aging process.
- Heart Health. Because fasting can improve risk factors for heart disease like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides.
- Cancer prevention. There is evidence that fasting’s metabolic changes can lead to the reduced risk of cancer. It may also reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
- Possible prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Animal studies have shown that fasting can protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- Longer Life Span. In one animal study, rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than non-fasted rats.
- Focus and Increased Mental Sharpness. This one isn’t hard to understand when you think about the brain fog and sleepiness you feel after eating a huge meal!
So now you know how amazing intermittent fasting for weight loss is, but how do you do it??
There is more than one way to intermittent fast – to get the best results, pick the intermittent fasting plan that fits best with your lifestyle because then you’ll be able to stick with the program.
The two most popular and most researched intermittent fasting schedules are below.
This intermittent fasting plan is done every day, which might seem extreme at first, but it really is a great way to get in the habit quickly. This method is touted by many weightlifters and athletes because it’s a great way to get lean and lose body fat fast.
The 16 hour fast is the kind of intermittent fasting I do. When I gave the 16/8 schedule of intermittent fasting for weight loss a try, it sealed the deal because I lost weight and did. not. feel. deprived. at. all!
- Fast for 16 hours each day (you’ll be sleeping for about 8 hours of this time.)
- Eat your first meal after your 16 hour fast.
- Eat for 8 hours.
- 8 hours after your first meal, begin another 16 hour fast.
- It doesn’t matter when you eat and when you fast, it’s whatever works best for your schedule.
- Whatever you decide just remember to fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours.
- Most people set this up so that they are skipping one meal a day.
For me this looks like: I stop eating about 7 pm. Which helps me be more mindful about food because I am a notorious evening snacker. Then, I go about my evening, go to sleep, wake up and have my first meal at about 11 am the next day.
This works great for me because I’m rarely hungry in when I first get up. For years I forced myself to eat breakfast because of the years and years of programming I received as a child ( “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”, “Your best days start with breakfast!”, etc.). Once I got over that hurdle of all my childhood programming, I was good to go.
This fasting plan lets you eat normally most days. It’s often used by people who are looking to bulk up or keep weight on. You still get a lot of the fasting benefits, but you won’t lose the weight that you will on the 16/8 schedule.
- Pick one day or two non-consecutive days a week to fast.
- You’re basically going to eat a meal, and then skip two meals.
- You’ll sleep during the 24 hour fasting period.
- If you eat dinner, skip breakfast and lunch the next day and don’t eat until dinner the next day
- If you eat breakfast, skip lunch and dinner and don’t eat until breakfast the next day
- If you eat lunch, skip dinner, sleep, skip breakfast and don’t eat until lunch the next day.
- This works well if you can fast for at least 22 hours, but 24 is better.
- Black Coffee
- Black or Green Tea
- Nothing else! It’s a fast!
- When you’re not fasting, eat as you normally do, but remember to make healthy choices because you can’t outrun a bad diet.
Exercising in the fasted state will help you lose even more fat. I always walk briskly with my dog in the morning and I do it even if I’m fasting. Without food, your body will burn fat for energy. So you don’t have to work that hard to lose more weight.
Don’t fast if you’re underweight, under 18, pregnant or breastfeeding.
Intermittent fasting for women is almost the same as fasting for men with just a few adjustments.
Drink more water. This of your fasting period as a break from food, not a deprivation.
Stay busy! It’s much easier to stay away from food if you’re occupied.
Make sure to eat enough calories during your eating period.
So, that’s why I love intermittent fasting for weight loss. It allows me to eat what I normally do, not feel deprived, and lose weight all at the same time.
Here’s looking at losing some of that extra body fat and reaping all the health benefits that come with intermittent fasting for weight loss!
Want to try intermittent fasting for weight loss yourself? I created an easy guide and tracker you can fill in to try your first intermittent fast.