Intermittent fasting for weight loss
Credit: markuso, via freedigitalphotos

Intermittent fasting is great for weight loss.

There are literally hundreds of diets on the market today, all promising that you’ll finally be able to lose the weight you want and achieve the body of your dreams. But as you probably know, they only ever seem to give short term results. After a while you drift back to your normal eating habits and the weight just piles back on. But there is a solution to this – you can forget about dieting and use intermittent fasting for weight loss instead.

With intermittent fasting you don’t have to worry about calorie counting, food combinations or restrictive eating plans. All you need to do is fast (stop eating food) for 24 hours one or two days per week.

So for 24 hours, i.e. from dinner one day until dinner the next day, all you will consume is water. Some people drink juice on these days, but the definition of a true fast is water only, and this is the most effective way to do it.

There are a number of different reasons why fasting for weight loss is so effective. Here are 7 of them…

1. You Reduce Your Weekly Calorie Intake

To lose weight you need a calorie deficit; that should go without saying. But it’s more useful to think of your calorie intake on a weekly, rather than a daily, basis. That way if you overeat on one day it doesn’t matter – you can simply cut back a bit the next day. With intermittent fasting you’ll be eating less meals per week, so even if you eat as you normally would the rest of the time, you’ll still be taking in fewer calories each week.

2. You Produce More Growth Hormone

Virtually all of our body’s metabolic activities are controlled by hormones, and that includes fat burning. Growth hormone is our most important fat burning hormone, and in the fasting state its production is substantially increased.

As well as aiding the fat burning process, growth hormone has a number of other benefits too. These include helping to maintain (or increase) lean muscle mass and promoting cellular repair and rejuvenation.

3. You Produce Less Insulin

Insulin is a storage hormone. It stores energy from your food as glycogen or as body fat. It also prevents the release of fat from fat cells for use as energy. Therefore it’s almost impossible to burn fat in the presence of high insulin levels. When fasting however, your insulin levels are kept low, so you can burn fat much more effectively.

Fasting also improves insulin sensitivity, which means less insulin will be required to do the same job. This further aids weight loss, as well as helping to prevent type 2 diabetes in susceptible people.

4. Your Catecholamine Levels Are Increased

The catecholamines, adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine), are also known as the ‘fight or flight’ hormones, and during a fast the levels of both of these are increased a little. This causes an increase in energy expenditure, which in turn burns off additional body fat.

5. Your Fat Burning Enzymes Are Increased

Hormones require enzymes in order to work properly, and fasting increases the production of two important fat burning enzymes. These are hormone sensitive lipase (HSL), which causes fat to be released from your fat cells, and lipoprotein lipase, which causes your muscles to take up the fat so it can be used as energy.

6. You Gain More Control

When you consciously decide to go without food for a while you develop your self control. At the end of a fast you feel you have accomplished something, and this builds self-esteem. You also become more aware of what causes you to eat in the first place. Over time you will grow to feel better about yourself and your relationship with food, and you’ll eventually gain complete control of your food choices.

7. It's Easy To Stick To

This is perhaps the most important point. Most diets fail because they are too restrictive or too difficult to follow. And this makes them hard to stick to. But with intermittent fasting you can still eat all your favorite foods, so you need never feel deprived. This means losing weight will never be a chore again. It is of course wise to stick to eating healthily most of the time, but if you feel like a treat you can have it and not feel guilty.

And whilst it is true that your first few fasting days may be a bit of a challenge, after you have done a few they’ll get much easier, and you’ll actually start to look forward to them. So you’ll easily be able to stick to it and not only achieve your ideal weight, but maintain it – for life!

Contrary to what is popularly believed, fasting for short periods of time will not reduce your metabolic rate, you will not go into ‘starvation mode’ and you will not lose any muscle mass. In fact your metabolism may actually increase slightly and you’ll burn fat whilst preserving muscle tissue – something which cannot be said of your typical calorie restriction diets.

Intermittent fasting is the simplest way to burn off fat and reach your ideal weight there is, and it’s also the most effective way to maintain it. On top of this, it’s about the best thing you could ever do to improve your long-term health and longevity.