Accelerating weight loss (aka fat loss) is an extremely popular thing to try and do? Why? Simple, who doesn’t like instant gratification. It would be amazing to lose 10 pounds in one day. The problem is thats not realistic. This basically allows people to enter the fitness industry to make ludacris claims that they can help you lose X amount of weight in X amount of time. The latest trend we see is intermittent fasting.
This poses the question is fasting or intermittent fasting a good way to lose weight? Let’s take one step back and pose the question, how do you lose weight? The only way to lose weight besides surgery is to eat less calories than your body burns. This means if your body burns 1500 calories per day you need to eat less than 1500 calories per day to lose weight.
Now that we know how to lose weight, what is fasting or intermittent fasting? The basic answer is you give yourself a time frame to consume all your calories and once that time frame is up you don’t eat anymore. An example would be you only eat between 10am to 6pm and don’t eat from 6pm till 10am. There are more extreme examples of this and several different types of fasting. An extreme example would be a 24 fast and a 24 hour window of eating.
Does intermittent fasting work? Just like any diet, yeah it can work but it also might not work. Remember, if you don’t eat less than you burn you won’t lose weight. What happens when you consume more calories than you burn? You gain weight. Lets kick it back up to the 1500 calorie example with a fasting scenario. Why fasting works for some people is that it’s really hard for them to consume 1500 calories in an 8 hour window. Because they aren’t consuming over 1500 calories they lose weight. Hence why intermittent fasting can work.
Great intermittent fasting works, let’s all do it. Hold your horses. Intermittent fasting only works if you are consuming less than your bodies maintenance calories. Back to our example of 1500 calories. For other people, it’s not challenging at all to consume 1500 calories. There are also a lot of foods that are calorically dense, like highly processed foods. Depending on what you are eating it can be extremely easy to get to 1500 calories in an 8 hour window and actually surpass that amount. Guess what? If you are eating 1500 calories and your body burns 1500 calories you will never lose a pound and if you are eating over 1500 calories you will gain weight.
Here is the next problem, your body is extremely good at adapting to its environment. It’s actually probably what the body does best. Your body will eventually get used to fasting. That means your body is going to make an adjustment in how many calories it burns especially if you don’t do anything to boost your metabolism (how many calories you burn). I can’t give you a time frame on how long it takes to adapt. It’s usually a couple weeks. Back to our example. If you have been fasting for 4 weeks and have done nothing to boost your metabolism your body will adapt and adjust to how many calories it needs to maintain itself. What that means is your body can go from burning 1500 calories a day to 1300.
How is that even possible? The fat you have on your body burns calories. When you lose that fat, you lose those calories you are burning. This means you have slowed your metabolism down. The problem is most people don’t know that’s what happens. Then they get frustrated with the whole process because they aren’t seeing results and they go on a binge streak and gain all the weight back. The only way to permanently boost your metabolism is to build and maintain your muscle.
That brings us back to the question is fasting or intermittent fasting a good way to lose weight? The answer is probably not. It promotes a yo-yo diet effect. Yeah there are health benefits to fasting but should you be fasting to solely lose weight? No, probably not. With that being said if you like fasting and it helps you lose weight, great. I am not here to tell you when and how to eat your calories. I am here to tell you that it’s not the fasting that’s making you lose weight. It’s being in a calorie deficit, which means you can consume your calories whenever you want. If you are in a deficit remember that if you don’t do anything to boost your metabolism you are going to hit a plateau in your weight loss journey.
For more on fasting here is a video: