If you're interested or focused on fitness and nutrition then I'm sure you've heard about Intermittent Fasting (delayed eating, is a better term..it's less scary than the term "fasting") or maybe you've even tried it yourself. So many people out there make claims that Intermittent Fasting (IF) is the "only way" to lose body fat, it's magic because you can "eat the same and still lose weight", it's better for your body and overall health- and all the other claims (that may be mostly unfounded scientifically). Many make claims that aren't true about hormones and such and since people believe these "Instagram gurus" the scientists have to go and prove them wrong..thus finding new ways IF can benefit people. BUT they're not saying you can't lose fat with Intermittent Fasting, they're saying you can, just not for the reasons some think.... not magic.
You may find some studies on inflammation and digestive health markers which say that IF does help, but those don't lead to fat loss, our topic at hand. The biological science is coming around (as far as inflammation, as mentioned) and so is the behavioral science belief in IF. Honestly, I believe more in the behavior aspects of the benefits of Intermittent Fasting because most articles, even the science ones, focus on the weight loss from the behaviors of the subjects, not always any actual biological changes from IF. I know you're confused! Let's break it down. (you can watch the 20 minute video below also, I get more detailed and personally specific).
Let's talk fat loss basics for a second:
When someone wants to lose body fat they must be eating in a caloric deficit, that means fewer calories than their body needs on a daily basis. If you're eating fewer calories than your body needs, then you WILL lose weight. What throws a wrench in this is hormones...mostly for women... and we like to blame them a lot for not losing fat. They do play a part, in that we have hormonal fluctuations monthly as well as when we hit menopause. Hormones also play a major factor in fat loss if someone has PCOS and/or any metabolic diseases people can have (pre-diabetes). Those things being taken into consideration may affect fat loss for people, but even than, it still comes down to the fact that your body is telling you you simply need fewer calories to live. Your body is responding to calories differently than one with balanced hormones, you simply need less of them. Eating the same foods in the same quantities but at different times, may just not be enough to see some fat loss!
Intermittent Fasting (aka Delayed eating) is a great tool in your fat loss journey but you STILL have to eat the right balance of macros for your body (protein, fat, carbs).
The behavior aspects:
1) Giving yourself less time to actually eat food
2) Telling yourself you're "done" eating and not eating outside your "eating window"
3) being more cognizant of nutrition leads people to make better choices overall.
...none of these magic, but all of them certainly can lead to fat loss!
So why do I live by IF??
1) Let's take it back to the behavioral side of IF. When I start eating I don't want to stop! Thus, increasing my total calorie (wants...not needs) for the day. If I just delay when I start eating, it is easier for me to stay within the range I need for fat loss. (#stressLess about eating)
Reason 1b) I have 2 kids. We are busy in the morning and me taking the time to make something, shove it down my throat while trying to get the kids up, dressed, fed and out the door is very unsatisfying. I would much rather just wait to eat until I can have a balanced meal, eat it in peace and enjoy it. When you enjoy your food, you end up more satisfied at the end of the meal. Why would I eat 300-400 unsatisfying calories when I can make the same amount of calories taste delicious (and maybe even tack them onto the end of my day instead as desert!) I want to enjoy my food and when I practice IF, I get to do that. (StressLess in the morning!)
Reason 2) I have a "sensitive" digestive tract. Fiber in mass quantities is not my friend. When I'm having a Celiac flare...no foods are my friend...lol. I eat a lot of whole and un-processed foods, which means I get to eat a lot of food by quantity. So when I give my body a break from having to digest food constantly I feel dramatically better. I LOVE feeling full, but I don't like that feeling of waking up full and then having to eat on top of that fullness. I give my body a break, and I feel better.
Reason 3) "They" say that it helps inflammation. "Caloric restriction is known to improve inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, but the mechanisms by which reduced caloric intake controls inflammation have been poorly understood," said senior author Miriam Merad, MD, Ph.D., Director of the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai." (read article with citations here also, realize these are done in rats, not people). **I have an autoimmune disease that causes systemic inflammation. So, for me, I know that my insides and my joints do feel less inflamed with fasting. You may feel better, you may not, but give it a shot and see how you feel.
I only go 14 to 18 hours max, most of those hours being after dinner through after I drop the kiddos at school. So, sleeping or busy time!
Basically it comes down to try it, see if you like it. If it causes extra stress in your day just trying to figure out when you can eat and you stress about being hungry, or you feel internal stress from not having food, then it may not be for you.
Do you IF? Have your tried it and decided it's not for you? Let me know if you do or don't in the comments!
Check this video for my thoughts on it, it is from a couple of years ago but still holds true!