Is Intermittent Fasting good?
Intermittent fasting can be a very good tool for weight loss; however, I would not recommend it for most people – and many people use it in the wrong way. There are several different forms of intermittent fasting – all of which feed from the same core concept. The most common version is known as 16/8, so we will use this example throughout the answer.
Intermittent fasting splits up your day into two sections known as a ‘fasting window’, and a ‘feeding window’.
These are pretty much as they sound. During your fasting window, the only thing you can consume is water and anything else that is 0 calories, like tea or black coffee. During your eating window, you can eat what you normally would.
In the 16/8 version of intermittent fasting, you will fast for 16 hours each day, and you will have a period of 8 hours where you are allowed to eat.
The most important thing to understand is that intermittent fasting isn’t what makes you lose weight – it is just a way of making a calorie deficit easier to achieve, which in turn will help you to lose weight. There is nothing special about eating in this way that will help you to lose weight in a circumstance where you usually wouldn’t. Regardless of what way you are dieting, it all comes back to a calorie deficit in order to burn fat.
The reason intermittent fasting will make it easier to eat in a calorie deficit is that it compresses the food you eat into a smaller time frame, making you feel more physically full and therefore, more satisfied from less food. If you are aware of this and use intermittent fasting as a tool to feel less hungry while dieting, then it can be a great way to support a goal of weight loss.
However, it should not be used as a way of creating a calorie deficit. You should not be completely skipping or cutting out meals – you’re just moving them closer together. This means that when intermittent fasting, you are still creating your calorie deficit through your food, rather than creating it by skipping a meal or two while in your fasting window. If used in this way, then intermittent fasting can be useful to support easier weight loss.
As previously mentioned, intermittent fasting is not recommended for most people, and it is due to these reasons:
Food focus – For many people, intermittent fasting can create an obsessive food focus, where you’re always watching the clock to see when you can/can’t eat. This is not a healthy relationship with food and is not the way that intermittent fasting is intended to be used. It should become a natural way of eating rather than an obsession over your eating windows.
Poor planning – Another reason intermittent fasting isn’t for most people is down to poor food planning. Since fasting makes it easy to go late into the day without eating very much food, it becomes easy to become busy in the evening, and end up barely eating anything within your eating window. This results in people drastically under eating and although they will lose a lot of weight in the short term, long term results will not be sustainable, healthy, or enjoyable. You need to make sure that you’re eating enough within your eating window to support the lifestyle and body you have.
Binge mentality – Lastly, for some people, intermittent fasting can develop a binge mentality around food. This is because it allows you to eat much larger meals when dieting, since you’re eating less throughout the day. However, this positive reinforcement for larger meals can sometimes lead to a restrict and binge mindset where you push how long you don’t eat to extremes so that you can eat the most possible in one go.
If you are somebody who is not susceptible to these then it may be worth trying out intermittent fasting and seeing if it works for you, but it should be avoided if you fall into any of these categories.
This was just one of the questions covered in our latest “Let’s Talk: Nutrition” talk with Ash. Our next talk with Ash will be held at tfd on Friday 28th February at 7pm and will be covering setting effective, sustainable calorie targets and using weight training to support weight loss. This talk is free for members and can be booked now via the FitSense app.