How Does Intermittent Fasting Work and Which Method Should You Choose?

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work and Which Method Should You Choose?

In the past and even now, people have been fasting in different societies. Fasting means not eating certain foods for a specific amount of time. They do this for religious or cultural reasons. Nowadays, there's a lot of talk about intermittent fasting in the media and on TV shows. It's become a popular way for people to lose weight. Intermittent fasting involves eating according to a schedule. You may have heard about it and are considering trying it to lose weight. But how does intermittent fasting help with weight loss? Keep reading to find out. You'll also learn about different intermittent fasting methods, their benefits, and possible downsides.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Simply put, intermittent fasting is an eating method where you alternate between eating and periods of not eating during the day. It's not so much about what you eat but when you eat. With intermittent fasting, you have a specific time frame for eating; you fast (don't eat) the rest of the time. It's important to remember that no matter which fasting schedule you follow, it won't make up for an unhealthy diet. Choose nutritious foods that give your body the energy it needs regardless of when you eat.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Intermittent fasting involves taking longer breaks from eating, which can result in eating fewer calories overall. This can help you lose weight over time. Studies suggest that intermittent fasting reduces calorie intake and can put your body in a state where it burns more energy, which leads to more calories being burned.

The good news is that there are different ways to do intermittent fasting. You can choose a fasting style that works best for you based on your lifestyle. It's essential to find a practical method that fits well into your daily routine so that you can stick to it consistently.

Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is usually safe, but it's essential to know that it might not be safe for everyone and can even be harmful. Certain groups of people should avoid intermittent fasting. Talking to a medical professional before starting any new eating plan is always a good idea.


Here are the groups of individuals who should avoid intermittent fasting:


  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women.

  • People under the age of 18.

  • Individuals with issues related to balancing blood sugar levels.

  • Those who are recovering from or have recovered from eating disorders.

  • People who are underweight or malnourished.

  • Individuals take certain medications such as fast-acting insulin, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and certain antibiotics.

  • Individuals struggling with fertility issues or experiencing abnormal menstrual cycles.

Intermittent Fasting Methods

Intermittent fasting offers various methods that can be adapted to different individuals. However, it's essential to consult with your medical provider before starting any new diet. This is because some of these methods can significantly change your regular eating routine, and ensuring they are safe and suitable for you is essential. Seeking professional advice will help you make informed decisions about the best approach to intermittent fasting that aligns with your health and well-being.

1. Intermittent Fasting 16:8

One popular type of fasting is called the 16:8 method. It involves eating within an eight-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day. Many people who follow this plan start eating at noon and finish by 8:00 pm, but you can adjust the eight-hour window to fit your schedule and preferences.

2. Intermittent Fasting 18:6

Another fasting method, the 18:6 method, is more strict than the 16:8 style. With the 18:6 method, you fast for 18 hours daily and have a six-hour window for eating. A typical schedule for this method is eating between 12:00 and 6:00 pm while fasting for 18 hours.

3. Intermittent Fasting 20:4

The 20:4 method is more intense than the previous ones mentioned. It involves fasting for 20 hours and having a four-hour window for eating. A typical eating schedule for those following this method might be 12:00 to 4:00 pm. It's important to note that the 20:4 method is quite extreme and may not be suitable for everyone. It's essential to consider your health and consult with a medical professional before attempting this fasting method.

4. The Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet, created by health and fitness expert Ori Hofmekler, is similar to the 20:4 method but has additional guidelines for specific foods. According to Hofmekler, the diet is inspired by our warrior ancestors who ate fermented, seasonal, and fresh foods infrequently during the day and consumed more food at night. While focusing on whole, unprocessed foods is generally a healthy approach, it's important to note that the Warrior Diet is highly restrictive, lacks scientific evidence, and can be challenging to maintain long-term. It may not be suitable or sustainable for everyone.

5. Intermittent Fasting 5:2

Another approach to intermittent fasting is the 5:2 method. With this method, you usually eat five days a week, following your regular eating habits. However, you limit your calorie intake to around 500-600 calories on the remaining two days. This method may require you to count calories or have a general understanding of the amount you're eating by reading nutrition labels. It's essential to be mindful of your calorie intake during the fasting days while maintaining your regular eating pattern on the other days.

6. Eat Stop, Eat

Another style of intermittent fasting is called "eat-stop-eat." It involves one to two days of fasting per week, where you don't eat anything, followed by eating without any time restrictions on the remaining days. While intermittent fasting is generally safe, it's important to note that the eat-stop-eat method is considered extreme. This highly restrictive eating schedule may not be safe or sustainable for most individuals. Prioritizing your health and consulting with a medical professional before attempting this fasting method is crucial.


What Is The Best Intermittent Fasting Method?

Different types of intermittent fasting plans exist, but there isn't a single best method for everyone. At Weight Loss Coach, our weight management experts consider factors like your health, lifestyle, and goals to help you determine the most suitable fasting method. We aim to assist you in finding a realistic, not overly restrictive, plan that you can stick with for the long term. Suppose you're interested in trying intermittent fasting. In that case, it's recommended to consult a Weight Loss Coach dietitian who can guide you in choosing a sustainable method that works well for you.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Scientists have found that intermittent fasting can be perfect for our health. They have done some studies in the short term with small groups of people. They are still doing more research on intermittent fasting, but here are a few possible benefits if you decide to try it:

1. You don’t have to count calories

Counting calories can be challenging and bothersome if you're trying to lose weight. Sometimes, the whole day goes by so quickly that you don't even have time to track what you eat. Many people give up on calorie counting because it's difficult to keep up with. However, another approach called intermittent fasting might be a better option for you. With intermittent fasting, you don't have to worry about counting calories as much. But remember, if you're using the 5:2 method for weight loss, you might still need to keep an eye on your calorie intake, even though it may not be as practical as the other methods.

2. You may lose weight

Intermittent fasting is a popular way to lose weight because it naturally limits how many calories you eat daily. This can help you reach your weight loss goals. In a review done in 2020, researchers looked at 27 studies that tested intermittent fasting for weight loss. All the studies showed some success, with weight loss ranging from 0.8% to 13%. It's important to note that a weight loss of more than 5% is considered significant from a clinical perspective.

3. Intermittent fasting might curb inflammation and disease

Besides helping with weight loss, recent research suggests that intermittent fasting may also reduce inflammation. In a review conducted in 2020, scientists analysed 18 studies. They discovered that intermittent fasting regimens were associated with lower C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in people with higher body weights. CRP is an important marker of inflammation, which is linked to various chronic diseases. These findings indicate intermittent fasting may have additional health benefits beyond weight management.

4. You could have more effective workouts

Intermittent fasting offers an added advantage regarding weight loss and exercise. In a small study conducted in 2016 involving 34 males who regularly engaged in resistance training, it was found that working out during fasting periods resulted in a higher amount of body fat burned compared to following regular eating schedules

5. Intermittent fasting may improve cardiometabolic health

Your overall heart and metabolic health significantly impact your risk for diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.


Living with obesity can raise your chances of developing these health issues, but intermittent fasting might be helpful. In a review conducted in 2021, researchers examined 46 studies to understand how intermittent fasting affects cardiometabolic health. The findings showed that people who practised intermittent fasting had lower body weight, less fat, smaller waist circumference, lower blood pressure, improved fasting blood glucose levels, lower total cholesterol, and reduced triglyceride levels compared to those who didn't fast. These results indicate intermittent fasting can positively affect your heart and metabolic health.

Drawbacks of Intermittent Fasting

While intermittent fasting is often considered a safe method for weight loss, it's essential to be aware of potential side effects, most of which are related to hunger and fasting.


Here are some possible side effects:


  • Binge eating and purging (although some studies have not found an increase in disordered eating behaviours like bingeing)

  • Dizziness

  • General weakness and low energy levels

  • Constipation

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Fluctuations in blood sugar levels

  • Headaches

  • Bad breath

  • Moodiness, including feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, and irritability

  • It may interfere with the social aspect of eating.


Remember that these side effects can vary from person to person, and not everyone will experience them. If you're considering intermittent fasting, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it aligns with your individual health needs.


Achieving Your Health Goals with Weight Loss Coach

Unsurprisingly, many diets are prevalent in our culture today, including keto and Intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is unlike any other diet based on the clock. By definition, it’s a diet approach that is defined by eating and fasting during specific periods.  According to research, the intermittent approach may help promote weight loss, improve inflammation, prevent disease, normalise heart and metabolic labs, and help burn more fat during workouts. However, it is still unclear if intermittent fasting is superior to other weight loss methods.  More high-quality, long-term, randomised controlled trials are needed.

If you’re considering adopting an intermittent fasting method into your life, get in touch with a Weight Loss Coach. We offer personalized support from Registered Dietitians, who know the ins and outs of intermittent fasting and how you can apply it to your lifestyle.


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