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Intermittent fasting for weight loss - a bowl of fruit

Intermittent fasting for weight loss: How does it work?

Intermittent fasting for weight loss is a common option nowadays. Losing weight is challenging, but possible with the right combination of proper diet and exercise. You can also consider special methods, like intermittent fasting, which is the cycling between periods of eating and fasting. Fasting is not an entirely new trend, as it has been practised by humans for centuries. However, it is being re-discovered as a way to improve health and lose weight while saving time and money. Combined with workouts from Auro, your fitness and wellness coach, intermittent fasting can really do wonders for your health. But intermittent fasting for weight loss isn’t for everyone, so find out if it’s right for you and ensure you do your research before starting any new diet or health plan.

Understanding intermittent fasting and how it helps you lose weight

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD, FAAMFM, ABAARM weighs in on the topic to help us understand a little more about what intermittent fasting is actually all about.

Intermittent fasting “is an eating pattern which involves fasting at certain times and continuing to eat your normal diet at other times. As long as your diet is healthy, you continue eating the same food. Only your eating schedule changes. Since there are no special diets involved here, this is regarded as a more feasible weight loss method for some people.You already fast every single day as you sleep. Intermittent fasting just extends the fasting period a little further.”

Intermittent fasting lets your body use the stored energy to burn off the excess body fat, which is technically food energy that your body likes to store. If you do not eat, the body eats that fat for energy. When you eat, energy from food is immediately used but saves some for later use. The hormone insulin rises when you eat, as it is involved in the storage process. When you fast intermittently, insulin levels decrease and signal your body to start using the stored energy.

Doing fasted cardio with Auro lets you burn off more body fat as your body uses up more of your stored energy. The exercise should be done on an empty stomach, when the body is not digesting or processing any food.

The important thing to remember about intermittent fasting is that you do not reduce your food intake. You are simply changing the windows of time in which you are eating.

The different types of intermittent fasting:

According to registered dietitian Jamie Miller of the Village Health Clubs & Spas in Phoenix, AZ, there are many different ways in which you can practice fasting. 

The 16/8

“The “16/8” is a popular fasting time frame, where you eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner all within an 8-hour window such as between noon and 8 PM.” 

The ‘Eat. Stop. Eat.’

This is where you restrict all food for 24 hours, once or twice a week. Research regarding the Eat. Stop. Eat. Method is limited, however, it is suggested that it changes the metabolic function in ways that support weight loss.

The “5:2”

When practicing the 5:2, “you eat normally 5 days a week, but eat only 500-600 calories for 2 days a week.” says Jamie Miller. These 2 days are the days where you effectively fast.

There is no right or wrong option here, and there is not a best type of fasting to choose from. Different health experts suggest different types of intermittent fasting, so if you are looking to try it, we suggest finding the best one for you that suits your lifestyle and schedule.

Three mistakes you should try to avoid making when intermittent fasting

There are, however, many ways in which people may practice intermittent fasting wrong. This includes fasting every single day. The key to intermittent fasting is that it is ‘intermittent’, meaning that it should come and go in intervals. If you fast every single day then this could be detrimental to your health. Jamie Miller explains that “intermittent fasting is inherently stressful on the body and so there must be times where the body gets a break.”

Intermittent fasting can also lead you to feeling so hungry that instead of eating your regular diet, you may instead want to binge on your favourite high calorie foods during your eating window. This defeats the point in the diet as you are consuming more calories and may in fact lead to weight gain.

This can also be viewed from the opposite way, and many people may not be consuming enough calories in their eating window. There is 100% such thing as restricting yourself too much and this can have negative effects on your body and mind. If you do not consume enough calories your body can start to burn it’s muscle mass and decline your metabolic rate.

Five common questions asked about intermittent fasting:

1. Can I drink whilst I’m fasting?

During your ‘eating windows’ you can drink whatever you like. However, during your ‘fasting windows’, you can drink water, coffee (with little milk), tea (unsweetened) and 0-calorie drinks. These drinks can often help reduce the feelings of hunger. You should ensure to always stay hydrated if you choose to intermittently fast and never restrict your water intake. If you are unsure of how much water you should drink daily, see here.

2. Can I have a ‘cheat day’ whilst intermittently fasting?

Like most diets, intermittent fasting can get tedious and boring. Which is why it is totally fine to allow yourself some cheat days throughout the month. However, the amount of cheat days you have depends on your personal health condition and goals. We suggest to speak to a medical professional or dietician if you are unsure as to how much slack you should give yourself when intermittent fasting.

3. Can I do intermittent fasting whilst following a fitness programme?

Research suggests that it is ok to exercise whilst intermittent fasting. However, it is important to ensure that you are eating enough calories during your ‘eating window’. Food is fuel and you should ensure your body is getting the correct amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fibre. Fasted cardio is also suggestively a great way to burn body fat. It is best to check with a medical professional to ensure you are exercising safely whilst you are fasting.

Take Auro with you whenever you exercise during your fasted state. Your audio personal trainer can even give you tips on how to succeed with intermittent fasting and exercise. The best thing about the app is it gives you access to personalised audio workouts with the guidance of world-class trainers to make the fitness experience affordable, accessible, and more engaging any time.

4. Is intermittent fasting for weight loss safe to do?

Research suggests that intermittent fasting for weight loss is fine to do in healthy adults. However, you should always check with your GP or a medical professional before starting a new diet like intermittent fasting.

5. How do I decide what times to fast?

Find what times best suit you, your lifestyle and your schedule. For example, if you are a morning person and go to bed early then you may want to move your 8 hour eating window slightly earlier. However, if you work night shifts then this may be completely different for you. The timings themselves are not so important, just as long as you ensure you have the correct time scheduled windows.

The science behind intermittent fasting

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi, a health and wellness writer and the editor of Best for nutrition has provided us with some insight on intermittent fasting from a scientific perspective: 

“Many people prefer intermittent fasting for its benefits that include weight loss and improved metabolism. When a study was conducted on intermittent fasting and its impact on insulin resistance, the results revealed that it brings greater insulin sensitivity and weight control.”

High insulin sensitivity means that the body cells are highly sensitive in response to insulin, allowing the cells to use glucose in the blood effectively. This ultimately reduces the body’s levels of blood sugar, which can lead to a reduced risk for diseases such as diabetes.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss: The benefits

Intermittent fasting lets you lose body fat and weight as it improves your body’s ability to naturally burn fat, especially if you combine it with exercise. The process may be helpful in increasing your energy, detoxify your gut, reducing inflammation, and improving your mental clarity.

Dr. Candice Seti, aka ‘The Weight Loss Therapist’ has also provided us with some of the key benefits to following an intermittent fasting plan, these include:

“Cell Repair: The body performs cellular repair throughout the body while in a fasting state.

Works with any Diet: Whatever healthy eating habits work for you personally, it is easy to make intermittent fasting work with your preferences because intermittent fasting doesn’t dictate food choices.

Helps with Muscle Growth: People looking to increase muscle mass may have success by implementing intermittent fasting. When fasting, the body produces more HGH (human grow hormone). In addition to aiding with weight loss, this hormone is also used in building lean muscle mass.

Aids with Healthy Weight: Intermittent fasting allows your body to enter into fat burning mode and lose excess weight. Additionally, by cutting down on the number of hours you are eating during the day, you generally eat fewer calories. Maintaining a healthy body weight goes beyond just an issue of vanity. Maintaining a healthy body weight helps to prevent disease, increase energy levels, and decrease aches and pains.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss: The drawbacks

Now we move on to the drawbacks of intermittent fasting. This is not to scare you, however, it is important to know the risks associated with any diet or new eating plan. 

Intermittent fasting for weight loss can be difficult to stick to long-term. It can also cause difficulties in your social life, as a large part of your life may be eating with family and friends. However, when this time window is restricted, it may limit your options and availability. Therefore, you have to find the right balance to ensure you are keeping your body and mind both happy and healthy.

According to Dr. Brynna Connor, MD, Healthcare Ambassador at NorthWestPharmacy.com, certain side effects that intermittent fasting can lead to include extreme hunger, headaches, problems with mental focus, irritability, or bad breath. People should also be aware that intermittent fasting can be a risk for people with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss: The outcome

So, is intermittent fasting for weight loss the right thing for you? At the end of the day, you have to consider your current health, listen to your body and outline your goals. Like we have previously mentioned in this blog, we suggest you speak to your GP or a medical professional if you are considering a dramatic change to your diet.

Auro are always here to provide the most insightful information. To keep up to date with what’s going on, join our private FB Community Group. The Auro app is also free to download on the App and PlayStore. 

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