You probably know by now that weight loss is all about calories in versus calories out. There’s no fairytale behind it, just simple science. Of course, not all calories are created equal, and from a health point it does matter of what those calories are made up. The idea is that your body needs to use up its energy storage (fat) in order to lose weight and it can't do it unless you eat less than what your body uses (calorie deficit).
You may ask what methods you can implement to get into a calorie deficit. You can either decrease your food intake (there is only so far you can go with this without risking your health), you can increase your physical activity levels (it will be very individual how much your lifestyle and work commitments allow) or you can do a combination of both.
The latter is the most sensible solution from both a fat loss and health point of view. Moving more will help you become healthier and fitter while eating less to increase the deficit will help you see weight loss results faster.
Intermittent fasting (IF) seems to have become a trend recently and is claimed to help you boost your fat loss results. Let's discover what IF is about and I will give you my take on this way of eating at the end.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
As the name suggests, intermittent fasting is all about sticking to a strict eating schedule. In most cases, you’ll go for many hours without meals ensuring you eat your daily calories within a fixed time window.
The most recommended and popular window is 8hrs eating followed by 16hrs "fasting". You can choose your window based on your lifestyle, but most people would skip breakfast, eat around 11-12 the first time and have the last meal around 7-8 in the evening. If you are a late shift worker, you can move the window to finish later in the day. Same if you need to be up on your feet very early, you can start earlier but you also need to finish earlier.
Another method of IF is called 5/2 when you eat at your maintenance level 5 days a week and have 2 days at around 500 calories or at a very low intake. It's recommended that these two days are not consecutive days and that you choose the wisely and don't put too much demands on your body.
The 5/2 is ideal for you if you have a hectic lifestyle on most days and you know you wouldn't be able to stick to a short window, but have 2 days where you do less, move minimal and you could easily survive the day on minimum food intake.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?
Absolutely. Intermittent fasting is normally safe for otherwise healthy people, but everybody can react differently. The best is to check with your GP before you decide to try it to make sure there are no contraindications.
One of the biggest risk is not meeting your food intake within the eating window. If you leave it at that and wait the 16 hours before eating again repeatedly, eventually your energy levels will suffer and you may spiral into a deprived state where eventually you binge when you can't hold it anymore.
The concept can work nicely for those who have no trouble eating enough or more than their body needs so restricting the time helps them to control their food intake.
That last sentence says it all. Intermittent fasting is a great way of controlling your food intake, no more and no less. It's not a magic pill and it's not even a new concept. If you are able to stick to it and stay in a calorie deficit, you will see results. If you are not consistent, just with any other dets or methods, you will be disappointed.
There is no harm in trying it though, some people may find that it's the best solution to suit their busy schedule. If you need further information intermittent fasting or would like to have a commitment-free goal assessment consultation, feel free to get in touch.
Owner and creator of One Small Step, Joe has been in the health and fitness industry for 8 years and takes an all-round approach to his coaching.