Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss – The Beginners Guide
Using intermittent fasting for weight loss is a powerful and effective strategy. In this article, you will learn how it works and why it’s so effective.
Here is what will be covered:
- What is it?
- Why people are confused by it
- 5 Reasons to use intermittent fasting for weight loss
- Things to watch out for
- A simple protocol you can implement
Let’s get started…
What is Intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is simply scheduled periods of time without eating.
There are two main variations of the diet popularized by different people:
16/8 Method – Leangains Protocol by Martin Berkhan
This is the most popular fasting method.
This is where you fast for 16 hours of the day and only eat during the other 8 hours.
What most people do (including founders of Avocadu, myself and certified personal trainer and nutritionist boyfriend, Alex) is eat almost nothing in the morning except for black coffee and water. The first meal of the day happens around noon, and the last meal is at 8 pm.
24 Hour Method – Eat Stop Eat Protocol by Brad Pilon
This is the second most popular method.
In this method, you do one or two 24-hour fasts during your week.
This usually happens from 5 pm in the evening to 5 pm the next day and is followed up with a big, healthy meal.
It should also be stated that this is the form of fasting with the largest body of research behind it.
Those are the two main variations of intermittent fasting, which brings us to the next point…
Why people are confused by intermittent fasting…
Let’s get the elephant out of the room.
Most people will immediately think:
“Wait, don’t I need to eat 6 meals per day to boost my metabolism? Won’t this hurt my metabolism???”
A million times NO.
There is not a single shred of evidence behind eating 6 meals per day to boost the metabolism.
It was a myth that was perpetuated by poorly correlated studies conducted a LONG time ago.
Here’s some basic proof, because I know some of you may struggle to believe this:
- Examine.com debunks the myth of 6 meals per day for your metabolism with 36 different studies (source).
- One of the largest meta-analyses performed on eating frequency found that there is NO difference in energy expenditure between nibbling and gorging (study).
- As long as calories remained the same when two groups in these two separate studies ate different meal frequencies, there was no change in calories burned (study, study)
There is irony in the 6 meals a day myth as well. Plenty of studies have shown that intermittent fasting and not eating 6 meals a day boosts fat burning.
So don’t be scared to try intermittent fasting for weight loss, because you will NOT hurt your metabolism.
5 Reasons to Use Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Improved Fat Burning and Metabolism
This is great. On top of that, people have also been shown to lose a significant amount of weight around the waist, getting rid of dangerous belly fat (study).
This is another good sign! I have talked about this in my previous article on the dangers of belly fat and how to best get rid of it.
Naturally Eat Fewer Calories
When people eat fewer meals during the week, they naturally eat fewer calories.
Plain and simple. People who do intermittent fasting have been shown to lose 3-8% more fat than those on standard calorie restriction diets (study).
They have also been shown to have an easier time sticking to their diets.
Positively Effects Key Weight Loss Hormones
Intermittent fasting for weight loss is quite effective at optimizing hormonal responses.
- Improves insulin sensitivity – Insulin is the primary hormone secreted when people eat. By improving insulin sensitivity with fasting, you will naturally lower resting insulin levels. These lower levels of insulin facilitate fat burning (study).
- Boosts human growth hormone (HGH) – Fasting has been shown to raise HGH by 2000%, which aids in fat burning as well as muscle tissue growth (study, study, study).
- Normalizing leptin – Leptin is the primary weight loss hormone responsible for telling you to stop eating and to go exercise. While most people have chronically low leptin levels, leptin becomes normalized during a fast (study).
- Helps with cellular discharge – Intermittent fasting also helps the body remove waste material from the cells by improving autophagy (study).
These positive changes in the body’s hormonal environment improve weight loss speed and results.
Helps You Hold onto Lean Muscle
If interested in weight loss, lean muscle tissue should be important to you. This is because the more lean muscle tissue that’s on the body, the more calories the body burns at rest.
Lean muscle is a good thing.
When compared to a standard calorie restriction diet, intermittent fasting has been proven to be much more effective at helping the body preserve lean muscle tissue (study).
Makes Life Simpler
Health and simplicity are two peas in a pod. Brothers if you will.
The healthiest foods are often the simplest, like a banana or a piece of lean chicken breast.
These basic foods are some of the healthiest you can eat, and being healthy should be simple. 2-3 large healthy meals per day are much easier to manage than 6 normal-sized meals and snacks.
Intermittent fasting eliminates more than half of the healthy decisions you must make in the day.
Those are the 5 reasons to try intermittent fasting for weight loss. Here are some important points to pay attention to…
Things to watch out for:
Snacking is 99% from boredom and not hunger.
This is not a negative thing, but I felt is was important to tell you. During a fast, you will probably notice yourself getting up from work (or the couch) and heading for the fridge without even thinking about it.
This is common.
Most snacking comes from boredom and our subconscious prompting us to “do something” (like eat). You will notice when fasting that you are much more productive because you have eliminated the option of eating for a few hours.
Don’t just gorge and use intermittent fasting as an excuse.
Calories still matter.
You can break your fast however you please, but make sure you’re not using fasting as an excuse to binge. Eat a big meal after fasting, but don’t ignore calories.
It takes time for the body to adapt.
Ghrelin is the hormone that signals to you that you are hungry. If the normal MO is eating 6 meals a day with a big breakfast, it may take a week to get used to intermittent fasting.
Don’t worry. Ghrelin will adapt to the new eating style, and hunger will eventually dissipate.
A simple protocol for implementation:
Go ahead and try to do the 24-hour fast from 5 pm to 5 pm for your first fasting experience.
That’s it. No calories for 24 hours.
It’s less difficult than you think after you get over the initial cravings and boredom. Follow it up with a big healthy meal of lean proteins and vegetable.
You will likely feel incredible!
This is for a few reasons:
- You’re giving your body and hormones a well-deserved break.
- Your body will have a great absorption rate of the nutrients you eat at the end of the fast. If you consume a bunch of low carb vegetables, you’ll feel pretty darn good.
This will also be an eye-opening experience for any participant on how the body works.
That we do not need a constant, never-ending supply of food to feel good and healthy.
It’s pretty freeing actually.
Intermittent fasting is explained in more detail in our fast weight loss program, the 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge. It’s optional of course, but it’s a great way to try it out and see if it’s right for you.
People lose an average of 10-21 pounds in 21 days and absolutely love it! But even better than the weight loss is the feedback we get from people about how the program has taught them how to change their eating habits and find a diet that truly works for them in the long-term.
We have over 1,000 people in our private support group going through the Challenge together, and every day they are sharing experiences, results, motivation, and lots of recipes!
If you are ready to make some changes in your life, this is the ONLY place you should start. We will teach you exactly how to make the necessary changes in your diet and your lifestyle and how to keep them “beyond the diet.”
Leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article on intermittent fasting for weight loss or have any questions!
Lauren at Avocadu
Latest posts by Lauren at Avocadu (see all)
- How Gut Bacteria Affects the Brain and the Body - February 20, 2017
- 10 Warning Signs You Have an Unhealthy Gut and What to do About It - January 10, 2017
- 10 Best Health and Fitness Blogs for a Healthy 2017 - December 20, 2016