It sure can be if done right. The trick is that even though you’re restricting your time feeding window, you still need to be in a caloric deficit to see the best results. However, you can see pretty good results as long as you’re following the other points we will discuss below.
Disclaimer: The following is for educational purposes only. We are not advocating a change in dietary, health, or exercise protocols. Please seek the advice or council of your nutritionally educated health care practitioner before engaging in any dietary or exercise changes.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
IM is a method of restricting eating times into more narrow windows with the theory that you’ll eat less because you’re so full for those periods and that you’ll trigger autophagy, which is the body’s breaking down old cellular material and re-using it to build new healthy cells.
Autophagy happens when you’re fasting for a long enough period of time and the body then turns to damaged tissues for building materials.
It makes perfect sense when you think about it.
Way back in the old days, we had times of feast and famine.
Your body still had to provide you with energy during those times, which it got mostly from your fat stores.
But it also had to continue to repair you as well.
So, it turned to the huge quantities of broken, damaged, or old cells for building materials to keep you up and running (repaired).
Because if the food was scarce, you didn’t have time to run out of energy or not be repaired, you had to go find food or you and your whole tribe would die. So, this is also as much a survival mechanism as anything.
In short, these periods of famine are good for your body. It gave the body time to recycle a bunch of waste matter and damaged materials to get them out of the way so that you’d become stronger and better from it.
It is pretty ingenious if we do say so ourselves.
So, with this type of diet, you eat less by restricting your feeding window and encouraging autophagy, which helps keep you working properly and somewhat renewed.
The reason we say this somewhat is that to go into deeper autophagy where you deep clean, you might say, it takes several days of pure water fasting to achieve.
We do not recommend unsupervised water fasting. It can be dangerous in that you lose all sense of hunger and don’t realize when it’s time to stop and eat something.
This has caused a few people to fast for too long of a period and have some issues that they needed to repair from the fasting.
You most likely wouldn’t have to worry about it because these issues don’t usually start for around 20 to 30 days, and most people just water fast for 2 or 3 days to clean out and get some of those benefits.
This being said, we still do not recommend any unsupervised water fasting. For safety’s sake, you need a licensed coach to walk you through it.
What Are The Different Ways You Can Do Intermittent Fasting?
There are several ways you can fast, and we are going to list and describe the most popular below.
What Is A 16 – 8 Intermittent Fast?
A 16–8 is where you abstain from taking in any calories for 16 hours, then have all your meals, generally 2 or 3, during the remaining 8 hours of the day. The premise is that you’ll eat less because you have to eat all that food in just 8 hours, which is difficult because you’re so full from just having eaten that last meal.
Most people will end up eating less because they just can’t eat all that food in just 8 hours. Because of this, they run in a caloric restricted state and use body fat to make up the difference, thereby burning fat as fuel and losing weight.
What Is A 20 – 4 Intermittent Fast?
A 20–4 fast is where you abstain from any calories for 20 hours and eat all your meals in just 4 hours. The idea is that you won’t be able to eat all your normal calories during the four-hour feeding window, and so you will naturally create a caloric deficit, which leads to weight loss.
Most people are only able to eat 2 meals during this window, and so they, for the most part, skip that third meal. They thereby reduce their calories by one-third for that day, which causes them to lose weight so long as that reduction also causes an overall caloric deficit.
What Is A 22 – 2 Intermittent Fast?
A 22–2 fast is where you don’t consume any caloric foods or drinks for 22 hours of each day, and then you consume your daily calories during a 2-hour window of time. Most people will take one big meal, split it into two, and consume half each hour to spread it out.
The challenge with this type of fasting is that by consuming all of your calories in just 2 hours, you generally have one heck of an insulin spike. There is evidence from studies that shows the elevated insulin can stay elevated for up to 12 hours after that massive spike.
This would mean that you’re not in fat burning mode, but instead in fat storage mode during that elevated insulin time frame.
This is contrary to dieting and may actually either hinder your weight loss or cause you to gain weight.
What Is Omad (One Meal Per Day) Fasting?
This type of fasting is pretty much just like it sounds. You consume all of your daily calories in just one meal, lasting no more than 30 minutes, although some say 1 hour is fine too. The obvious premise is that you will get too full to overeat and thereby set up a large caloric deficit.
There are two main problems with this type of dieting.
A). Because they are only eating once per day, many people see that as a really good reason to eat whatever they want, such as burgers, chips, cake, candy, and soda.
This is absolutely NOT advised. You should be eating whole-natural foods, not loads of crap just because you’ve done the math and know you’ll still be in a caloric deficit.
This type of thinking is quite likely why many people are fat in the first place. Any excuse to eat garbage? If you want to have a healthy life, at some point you’re just going to have to stop eating crap.
But an OMAD diet is not likely the best path to be on to get that done.
B). The insulin spike is out of this world. You’re attempting to cram as much food into your stomach as it can hold.
Digesting all that mess all at once sends your insulin through the roof. There are countless reports of people on the OMAD diet who have to go lay down and pass out for one to several hours after the meal.
In our opinion, this is just foolishness. You should not eat this way; you’re forcing your body chemistry down a deep, dark path that will take a long time to retrain from if you spend any amount of time on this diet.
Once you come off of it, and you will, depending on the time you spent doing it, it could take months or even years to retrain your body chemistry.
This is just not, in our opinion, a very good idea.
What Is 5 – 2 Intermittent Fasting?
This is a unique form of fasting where you eat normally for five days and water fast for two days. The benefit is that you do stimulate autophagy with two-day water fast. You also enter ketosis and start burning fat as your preferred fuel source.
The big drawback to it is that we cannot recommend water fasting without supervision.
Then, each week you’ll be going through the hardest part of the short water fast, the first 2 or 3 days. This is where people get their headaches, conversion blues, and feel exhausted. Once you pass this, it generally becomes much better.
So, having to go through the hardest part every week doesn’t sound like too much fun.
Does Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Weight?
Yes, but according to studies, only just a little bit. Those who fasted lost a little bit more weight than those who did not. Most of that was chalked up to better diet adherence in the fasting group. When you fast, you are very conscious of what you DO eat during that window. As such, people tend to make better food choices as a result.
The main factor for losing weight in the studies we meta-complied was an overall caloric deficit for the length of the diet.
Those people who created the greatest caloric deficit by diet, exercise, or a combination of the two won the battle of the bulge.
How Much Weight Can You Lose Intermittent Fasting?
Typically, just about as much weight as you can lose with any other diet that has the same caloric deficit as the fasting diet. You may, over time, lose a little more with fasting as most people adhere to the diet more strictly than other diets. However, if you were to eat the same number of calories on this vs Keto diet or many other diets, the weight loss should be about the same.
You see, studies found that the bulk of the weight loss didn’t come from fasting, but instead from the steady daily caloric deficit.
The fasting group simply found it easier to adhere to the lower calorie intake because their window focused on the amount of food and the kinds of foods they ate.
Is Intermittent Fasting With Keto A Good Diet Strategy?
This is pretty intense and way too fast. You’re fasting, carb restricting, and caloric restricting all in one. There are no clinical trials on it that we can find. However, it would seem that the body should preferentially use fat as fuel during this type of dieting.
It would be interesting to see some clinical data on this to see how well it went. So long as they did control groups of caloric restriction only, fasters alone and fasters with keto, both of which had groups that were calorically restricted and those that were not.
That would be some cool data to dig into for sure.
Intermittent Fasting, What Are The Benefits?
The main benefit of fasting is that you can enter into a true fasting state so, that you can go into autophagy. Autophagy means self-eating. In this state, you’re breaking down the old or damaged interior components of cells and or the whole cell and re-using them as building blocks for new healthy cells.
The reason this is so great is that you’re cleaning out cells that have parts of them that aren’t working very well, if at all.
The cells were causing problems, acting somewhat like the weakest link in the chain. The body was always having to find work arounds for them, and now it gets to recycle them to eliminate this problem.
Your body doesn’t need any outside materials to do this. It uses your fat stores as energy, the cells as the building materials, and time to create the new from the old or broken.
This is why fasting proponents will often say that when you’re fasting, your body doesn’t have to work on the food, so it has the energy to work on itself, fixing all its little or even big problems.
This is true, and the mechanism it uses to accomplish this is called autophagy.
This can lead to small healings throughout the body or, if the fasting continues long enough, to major healing of larger problems.
Remember, we cannot condone water fasting without the supervision of a licensed professional. In fact, we would advise against it.
Supervised water fasting is quite a likely one of the best things you can do to give your body a break, clean out all the dead waste material, and help jump-start the rebuilding of new healthy cells.