Intermittent fasting is all about timing. By consciously dividing the day between times to eat and times to fast, many people claim to have lost weight and gained health. Is there science to support these claims? Are the benefits enough to make intermittent fasting worthwhile?
In this post, I’ll share what happened when ordinary people fasted for science. I will also provide some insights that may help you get the most out of fasting.
Intermittent Fasting: Is It Worth Your Time? [Video]
In this video, you will learn…
- The results of various studies done about intermittent fasting.
- What intermittent fasting can do for your health.
- Is intermittent fasting worthwhile when it comes to weight loss?
One of the first studies to put intermittent fasting on the map had overweight participants restricted the number of hours a day they consumed calories. They went from their average of more than 14 hours down to 10-12 hours.
This time-restricted eating pattern resulted in measurable weight loss. The average participant lost 3.27 kilograms, which is more than 7 pounds throughout the 16-week study (1).
This is a good result, but what truly captured the imagination of the world is that the participants were not asked to change their food choices. The weight loss came from doing nothing more than shortening their eating window.
Intermittent Fasting and Health
Since that study, there have been many more controlled trials conducted in order to investigate the effects of fasting on the body. These small studies are often combined into larger review studies that summarize the main findings. These reviews give us a big-picture perspective.
For instance, a review study published in the Annual Review of Nutrition closely examined how fasting impacts weight as well as metabolic markers associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer (2).
The research team drew a couple of conclusions about these factors. They found that modifying eating patterns to include fasting may improve metabolic health.
Because the studies targeting health conditions have been small, more research needs to be done before solid clinical recommendations can be made.
Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss
As for weight loss and intermittent fasting, the results were more significant. After conducting their review of the scientific literature, the research team concluded that almost any intermittent fasting regimen can result in weight loss.
What if you’ve tried intermittent fasting and you haven’t lost weight? What if you’ve tried it, liked it, and would now love to find a way to accelerate your results? Are there any insights that we can take from these studies that will give you the edge you’re looking for?
The answer is yes. Here are two things to keep in mind.
How Often to Fast?
First of all, the majority of the study participants lost weight even though they did not make drastic changes to their food choices. They were fasting consistently for many weeks. It was most likely that it was the consistent effort led to the results on the scale.
The first takeaway is that fasting does not have to be practiced every day if you are pairing it with a healthy diet. If you do not want to change your diet, you’ll be happiest with your results if you stay consistent with your fasting efforts.
When Should You Fast?
The previously mentioned review study had this to say: “Several lines of evidence also support the hypothesis that eating patterns that reduce or eliminate nighttime eating and prolong nightly fasting intervals may result in sustained improvements in human health.”
In other words, you will gain the most benefit from fasting if you do not eat late at night.
If you’ve tried intermittent fasting without results or you are looking to maximize the results you’ve had, try finishing your last meal of the day early in the evening.
While there is no defined hour that this last meal should be eaten, the current consensus is that you should stop eating at least three hours before you go to bed.
This 3-hour-before-bed rule is one of my four daily habits for weight loss. On my website, you will find a free downloadable copy of my four daily habits. Thank you for reading and I hope you have a wonderful week!
(1) Gill, Shubhroz, and Satchidananda Panda. “A smartphone app reveals erratic diurnal eating patterns in humans that can be modulated for health benefits.” Cell metabolism 22.5 (2015): 789-798.
(2) Patterson, Ruth E., and Dorothy D. Sears. “Metabolic effects of intermittent fasting.” Annual review of nutrition 37 (2017).
About the Author:
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.