By Allen Bryan
Losing weight can be difficult; eating three meals a day with little to no calories to introduce a calorie deficit can seem impossible to maintain long term. Over the last few years, a dieting regimen that has become more and more popular is intermittent fasting, where a person may eat as little as one meal per day. Numerous studies have shown intermittent fasting to be both healthful and beneficial for weight loss in most people, and there is a large community of intermittent fasters who will reiterate this same message.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting, and it only regulates the timeframe in which food can be eaten. Going back to the days of ancient hunter-gatherers, humans have evolved to be able to fast for long periods of time without food. Therefore, fasting in some ways is more natural than eating three meals a day.
There are multiple ways of going about intermittent fasting. The most widely known fasting method is the 16/8 method, which means that fasting is performed for 16 hours every day, and there is an 8 hour window in which meals can be eaten. Fasters will usually have their window between 12am and 8pm or 1pm and 9pm to have sufficient lunch and dinner meals. The eat-stop-eat method includes fasting for 24 hours on two days of the week. Some fasters will even perform the OMAD (One meal a day) diet, where they have only one large meal every day.
Even though these diets do not restrict the amount of type of food that is eaten, they see successful results quickly because having less meals usually means ingesting less calories. Fasting introduces health benefits that occur on the molecular level. The body adjusts certain hormone levels to to make stored body fat more accessible to break down. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels increase that cause fat loss and muscle gain, and insulin levels are lowered that initiates a better accessibility to body fat. These adjustments allow fasting to become a very effective weight loss tool. A 2014 study found that fasting can cause a 3-8% weight loss over 3-24 weeks, a much more significant amount than results from other dieting methods. It must be remembered however, that fasting is only effective because less calories are eaten; if binge eating occurs during the eating window, weight loss may not occur.
Intermittent fasting is a method of dieting that is garnering more support over the last few years, and has proven to be successful. Weight loss is never easy, but intermittent fasting may be the method that works for you.