This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here. Always consult a medical professional before commencing any diet.
Intermittent fasting results! A lot of people swear by them, including me! That’s because they don’t only include weight loss.
Intermittent fasting (IF) became increasingly popular when celebrities and health experts have sworn by its efficacy.
Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, and Halle Berry are just some of the A-list celebrities who practice intermittent fasting.
This proves one thing:- that intermittent fasting results can only be beneficial beyond the hype.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that consists of eating during an 8-hour window and fasting the other 16-hours of the day. It is a time-restricted fast that alternates between fasting and non-fasting.
The underlying principle behind intermittent fasting is to induce our body’s insulin level to drop between meals. With less insulin circulating, our fat cells have no other alternative but to convert the stored sugar to energy.
Intermittent fasting has been practiced for many years for religious reasons by Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims. In 2012, intermittent fasting made headlines when BBC broadcast journalist featured Dr. Michael Mosley’s TV documentary titled “Eat Fast, Live Longer”.
Journalist Kate Harrison continued the intermittent fasting positive publicity when she published her book titled “The 5:2 Diet”.
Most people do intermittent fasting for weight loss purposes, but its benefits extend beyond that.
There is overflowing literature that highlights how intermittent fasting improves ones’ overall well-being.
Feeling supercharged with energy, achieving optimal weight, activating stem cells, slowing general aging and brain aging, and reducing the risk of diabetes and cancer.
These are just some of the other benefits most ordinary diet plans fail to deliver.
Before diving further, let us isolate the hype behind the intermittent fasting results and look at some hard facts.
Intermittent Fasting Pros and Cons
Intermittent Fasting Pros
1. Helps Lose Weight
According to an article published in August 2015 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Intermittent Fasting can aid weight loss. Findings indicated that the average weight loss ranged from 1.3 percent (for a two-week trial) to 8 percent (for an eight-week trial).
The same research also concluded that there is little evidence that this regimen causes any harm, physically or emotionally among healthy, normal weight, overweight, or obese adults.
2. Improve Cardiovascular Health
Intermittent fasting can help you achieve a healthy weight. By shedding excess body fat, your metabolic profile will improve thus lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases according to this study.
3. Reduced Blood Pressure
Intermittent fasting is effective in reducing blood pressure. Researchers studied a group of 1,422 individuals on intermittent fasting.
This group was allowed to consume daily meals between 200 – 350 calories for 4 to 21 days. At the end of the period, the people’s systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) dropped, along with their heart rate.
Contrastingly, the research indicated that the blood pressure benefits lasted only when Intermittent Fasting was practiced. Once the diet ended and the participants resumed their normal eating habits, researchers found the blood pressure readings returned to normal levels.
4. Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
With intermittent fasting, individuals can reduce the concentration of many metabolic biomarkers such as insulin and glucose. By reducing insulin resistance, this will in return lessen the risk of diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
According to this study, researchers discovered that intermittent fasting can decrease the amount of fat on the pancreas leading to an improvement in the pancreatic function and this could reverse type-2 diabetes in some people.
5. Slows Down Aging
Intermittent fasting has positive effects on our nervous system. When in intermittent fasting, our body produces less free radicals. This in return reduces oxidative stress.
Lower levels of oxidative stress will help to slow down the aging process. Simultaneously, intermittent fasting promotes cellular repair. This is essential for excreting waste from the cells in our body according to this study.
6. Improves Cellular Repair
Our kidney, liver, and intestines work overtime to remove waste from our bodies.
Very often, this waste is built up from poor eating habits. Red meat, greasy food, and processed food are some of the culprits that put our organs under excessive stress in an attempt to cleanse the body from waste. And when these wastes build up, it causes tumors. Sometimes, this waste can block arteries and vessels that are vital for our cardiovascular health.
By fasting, we give our body more time to breakdown the food while preventing new waste from entering the body. This in return improves cellular repair.
Intermittent Fasting Cons
1. Diet That Is Hard To Follow
With a short window to eat and restricted calorie intake, intermittent fasting is a very restrictive diet only for the strong-willed.
38% of individuals who partake to practice intermittent fasting (IF) dropped out before the completion of the dietary regiment.
According to Dr. Frank Hu, head of the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, participants of IF are at risk of succumbing to yo-yo dieting.
It is easy to binge and over-eat on days of non-fasting. Simply because our appetite hormones can go on overdrive as a consequence of being food-deprived for days.
2. Weight Loss Is Only Temporary
Another drawback of intermittent fasting results is that weight loss occurs only while you are on the diet plan. And once you’re off it, you stop losing weight.
When the body is put through extreme calorie restriction which is a form of stress, our metabolism will slow down.
It is also normal to have intense cravings as the body goes through “re-feeding syndrome”. What happens subsequently is that you will eat more to make up for the inadequacy during the IF.
Eating less during IF and eating excessively off IF triggers a yo-yo diet effect that is detrimental to the body.
Moreover, the weight loss experienced is not any more than what you would experience from other calorie-restricted meal plans.
You may even end up gaining more weight post-IF if you do not watch the number of calories you’re eating per day.
Comparatively, IF can be as effective as other normal caloric restriction diets such as the OMAD keto diet or the paleo diet.
Busy people who do not have time to prep their meals confess to finding such diet plans easier to follow than intermittent fasting.
3. There Is a Risk of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia occurs when there is insufficient sugar in the bloodstream.
Hypoglycemia is a side effect of diabetes and insulin deficiency. However, if you have thyroid diseases or even if you are non-diabetic, you are at risk of hypoglycemia too.
Common triggers for hypoglycemia are not eating enough or skipping meals. People prone to hypoglycemia might feel dizzy, nauseous, or may quiver.
On a more intense spectrum, hypoglycemia can result in headaches, blurred vision, sweating, fatigue, and paleness.
4. May Interfere with Social Eating
Fasting intermittently can put a damper on social situations especially if you’re accustomed to having meals with your colleagues, friends, or family.
That been said, you could opt for socially-friendly IF options such as the Spontaneous Meal method.
So mealtime can be engaging yet conforming to the rules of IF when done correctly.
5. Intermittent Fasting Can Affect Sleep Quality
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can disrupt your sleep cycle. Or cause you to have restless sleep.
This is because you may be awakening mid-REM due to hunger as you transition from non-fasting to fasting.
When your amount of REM sleep decreases, this causes brain fog. In short, it affects recall, memory, mood, and learning capacity.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
With 6 different variants of intermittent fasting, you can choose a sustainable diet plan that works for you.
Let’s dive into what each intermittent fasting method is all about!
1. The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 Hours Per Day
You are required to fast for 14 to 16 hours each day and are only allowed to eat for 8 – 10 hours per day.
On this method, you can choose from any of the eating windows below, with the most commonly adopted window being between 12 noon and 8 pm. And within each eating window, you can eat 2 to 3 meals.
- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Noon to 8 p.m
You are allowed to drink water, coffee, tea, and other non-caloric beverages during the fast. This will help you control your hunger pangs.
Most importantly, you should eat primarily healthy food during your eating window. This method will fail if you consume a lot of junk food or excessive calories.
Also referred to as the Leangains protocol and popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan, the 16/8 method is the most popular intermittent fasting approach.
Essentially, the 16/8 method also means that you do not eat anything after dinner, and skip breakfast. If you finish your last meal at 8 p.m. and do not eat until noon the next day, you would have clocked in a 16-hour fast.
2. Eat-Stop-Eat: Fast for 24-hours, Once or Twice A Week
Eat-stop-eat is about fasting for 24-hours, either one to two times per week. Simply put, if you do not eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day, you would have fasted for 24 hours.
Alternatively, you can also fast from breakfast to breakfast. Or lunch to lunch.
Popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon, you can consume liquids such as water, coffee, tea, and other non-caloric beverages during the fast. However solid foods are not permitted.
Bear in mind that eating normally during the eating windows is imperative. You are encouraged to eat the same amount of food as if you have not been fasting at all, and not gorge yourself. This is to ensure that your body is properly nourished.
The pitfall of this method is that a full 24-hour fast can be difficult for many people.
To manage this, start by taking baby steps by doing 14-16 hours fast. Once you’ve got the hang of it, move up and gradually lengthen your fasting period until you reach 24-hours.
On the contrary, followers of the eat-stop-eat method admitted to feeling super hungry towards the last few hours of the fast.
3. The 5:2 Diet: Fast for Two Days Per Week
Also known as The Fast Diet, you are required to fast for 2 whole days of the week, and not fast for the balanced 5 days.
During the 2 days of fasting, you should restrict your calorie intake to 500 (for women) and 600 calories (for men) per day.
This diet was popularized by British journalist Michael Mosley.
For example, you can eat normally every day of the week except Mondays and Thursdays. On these two days, you should eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women and 300 calories for men).
Another staunch follower of the 5:2 intermittent diets is Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey.
He eats only once a day, skipping breakfast and lunch. And he consumes his only meal for the day between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
You will note that this diet does not set predetermined eating windows, as long as you stay within the allowable calorie consumption per day.
4. Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate day fasting (ADF) refers to fasting every other day. The alternate-day fasting method is easier to follow as opposed to the full-fast, eat-stop-eat method.
All you do is fast one day and eat normally on the other.
If you need to, you are allowed to consume 25% of your normal daily calorie goal on a fasting day which can help you lose weight and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease according to this study.
For example, if your calorie goal to lose weight is 1500 calories per day on a non-fasting day, then you would be allowed to eat 375 calories on a fasting day.
5. The Warrior Diet: Fast During The Day Eat During The Night
The Warrior Diet is about eating small portions of raw fruits and vegetables throughout the day and eating one main big meal at night time.
Popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler, this diet entails fasting all day and feasting at night within a 4-hour eating window.
Just like the paleo diet, the warrior diet emphasizes eating whole, natural, and unprocessed foods.
6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip One Meal Per Day, Two Times Per Weak
Just like its name, this diet plan does not have any structure of form to abide too.
This freestyle fasting plan gives you the flexibility to skip any one meal per day, for 2 days of the week.
For example, you can skip breakfast on Tuesday, and skip dinner on Thursday.
The rule of thumb is to skip meals on alternate and not consecutive days. And you should skip breakfast and the main meal, be it lunch or dinner.
Some of us may already subconsciously practice spontaneous meal skipping. In fact, skipping one or two meals per day due to time constraints or travel is intermittent fasting.
Of all the 6 methods of intermittent fasting, this method is the most realistic, and easiest to follow.
As such it is a good idea to try this method before progressing to more demanding IF methods that require long hours of fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Results 1 Week
Intermittent fasting results can vary from person to person, however, at the end of the week, most followers record up a pound of weight loss. You will also lose up to an inch around your waist circumference.
From a scientific perspective, research indicated that participants who practiced intermittent fasting for one week lost 1.3 kilograms in body weight.
There was also a reduction in acute inflammatory markers among healthy adults.
However, the participants did not enjoy a drop in body fat ratio or lipid profile during one week of intermittent fasting.
7 Day Fast – What to expect
The first few days of the week is probably the hardest and most challenging.
Your body will have to get used to not eating for extended hours.
You may feel slightly irritable and may experience brain fog as your blood sugar level drops below normal levels.
The tip to stay on track with this fasting plan is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. You can drink black coffee and tea too.
Accept the fact that lunch is not going to be a feast but specially curated with nutrient-dense meals that are low in calories.
Get used to socializing over small meals during lunch. Be disciplined and think of the rewards you will reap at the end of the week.
Things get better by day 3.
Brain fog dissipates and your body is now accustomed to the restrictive dietary intake.
Your hunger pangs are better controlled as you recognize the triggers and manage them better.
Headaches are bygones and your meals are wholesome and keto-like.
You will find that when you incorporate the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet into your eating windows, you feel full faster. This is because your stomach can now hold less food at a go.
Best of all, the mid-week fogginess and headaches have now subsided. And because you’re eating more wholesome dinners, you will find skipping breakfast the next day easier than ever.
Intermittent Fasting Results 1 Month
You can lose up to 3 kg within 30 days fast. For some of us with stubborn submental fat around the belly, do not despair that the potbelly is still there. The stubborn belly fat will reduce gradually over time.
At this point, you will feel more focused and energized throughout the day. In fact, not having to prepare breakfast is quite a time saver!
If you find yourself fasting but gaining weight, don’t give up as yet.
The amount of time that it will take for intermittent fasting to work will depend on 2 factors:
- What are your goals and;
- What is the weight you started with before fasting
If your goal is weight loss, then you would be able to achieve it faster as compared to someone who strives to re-balance their hormones through intermittent fasting
In the same light, if you started heavier and therefore have more weight to lose, you should set realistic expectations of gradually losing the weight.
Most people will need at least 10 weeks to see significant weight loss from intermittent fasting.
Every single pound or cm loss is a reason to celebrate. And be resolute to stay on track.
1. How much weight can you lose in a month with intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting can reduce body weight by 3 – 8% over 3 – 24 weeks. Studying the rate of weight loss, people lost around 0.55 pounds (0.25 kg) per week with intermittent fasting. On the other continuum, most lost 1.65 pounds (0.75 kg) per week with alternate-day fasting.
This suggests that of the 6 intermittent fasting methods, the 5:2 method and alternate-day fasting method could be the best to lose weight fast.
2. Does the 16 / 8 diet really work?
Yes. Research proves that the 16/8 diet truly works.
A study was conducted in 2016 to track men who abide to 16 / 8 intermittent fasting for 8 weeks while integrating resistant training. Men reported greater weight loss and fat loss while maintaining muscle mass throughout.
Contrary to popular belief, intermittent fasting results do not include loss of muscle mass.
In fact, a study conducted on a group that adhered to the 16/8 intermittent fasting reported a significant fat loss of 16.8% vs. 2.4% in the non-fasting group.
Both groups ate the same food, in the same quantities, and did the same activities with different outcomes that favored the 16/8 diet.
With this myth debunked, intermittent fasting delivers results for men seeking to lower their fat levels without comprising on muscle mass.
3. How long should I do intermittent fasting?
To get all the amazing intermittent fasting results you are looking for, you should try fasting for some time between 6 weeks to 6 months.
Our body needs 10 – 12 hours to burn immediate energy before it goes into ketosis. Ketosis occurs when your body starts to burn fat saved up in case of “rainy days” or extreme lack of food.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet fad. For individuals who do not face any adverse effects from intermittent fasting, you can make it a lifestyle habit.
In fact, it is an effective way to drop excess fat and reap the other various benefits for the rest of your life.
For the vast majority of us who want to cycle between fasting and non-fasting, you can do intermittent fasting when you have piled on the pounds and pull back once you have achieved your ideal weight.
At any point you show signs of nutrient deficiency (such as hair loss, dry skin, or extreme fatigue), you can replenish the loss nutrients quickly with fasting supplements.
Intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone. If you fall under any of these categories, you may consider other weight loss methods such as the Scarsdale Diet.
- Underweight (BMI < 18.5) or if you have an eating disorder like anorexia
- Pregnant – You will need extra nutrients for your child’s growth
- Breastfeeding – You will need extra calories and nutrients to produce sufficient milk
- Minor below 18 years old – Children under this age group need extra nutrients to maximize their growth potential
You may consider intermittent fasting but will require medical supervision if you fall under any one of these conditions:-
- If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus
- You take prescription medication
- Your uric acid is high or you have gout
- If you have any serious medical conditions such as liver, kidney, or heart diseases
This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here.