There is no magical formula for losing weight. Just as it takes time to put on extra pounds, it takes time to lose them. Fad diets come and go, but mostly they go because they either don't work or are impossible to follow for any length of time.
There is a simple concept for weight loss: You must burn more calories than you consume. This could be by exercising more, eating less, or both. A pound of fat contains approximately 3500 calories. Therefore, to lose one pound of fat you must burn off those calories. For example, a 500 hundred calorie reduction in your daily food intake will result in a loss of one pound per week. You can increase this through exercise, which burns off even more calories.
Intermittent fasting has become popular recently. It simply means that you refrain from eating, drinking only water, for a period of time. This could be 12 hours of fasting and 12 hours of eating in one day, or it could be full fasting days alternated with regular eating days. It could be eating one big meal a day two to three days a week and so on. The main problem with this approach is that after fasting for many hours, you will be very hungry. If you simply consume your regular number of calories during your non-fasting time, you will be right back where you started from, and you will definitely not lose any weight.
When the body exhausts its sugar supplies called glycogen due to fasting, it begins burning fat. This causes the body to form substances called ketones, which is a condition called ketosis. Diets that promote ketosis are called ketogenic diets. Some supporters of intermittent fasting combine it with a ketogenic diet for a better effect. Ketosis is not a natural state and can lead to headaches, brain fog, fatigue, nausea, insomnia, stomach aches, irritability, constipation, and dizziness. It typically takes three for days for ketosis to occur, though, so these symptoms may not be seen with mild intermittent fasting. People are heavier today than ever before. Why? According to dietitian Christie Williams, it's because portions were once much smaller, there was no internet or computers so people did more outdoor activities and television programs generally stopped at midnight or before, so people went to bed instead of eating. There was also far less junk food and sugar consumption overall.
Benefits of Fasting
Fasting, in general, does have some possible benefits.
- It may reduce insulin resistance and possibly protect against Type 2 diabetes
- It may fight inflammation, which can set the stage for serious diseases
- It may improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- It may improve brain function
- It may help to increase levels of HGH or human growth hormone
Whether or not intermittent fasting, as opposed to long-term fasting, would have the same benefits remains unknown. Proponents of intermittent fasting also point out that periods of fasting are normal for humans because our ancestors typically probably had great difficulty obtaining enough to eat and had to expend a lot of energy to get food. This is probably true, but it doesn't prove that intermittent fasting is healthy or even effective.
How to do Intermittent Fasting
There are many ways to do it. You can even make up your own intermittent fasting schedule. However, the 5-2 program is quite popular. This means that you eat normally for 5 days and then restrict calories to 500 to 600 daily for 2 days out of the week. It's supposed to reset your appetite by slowing the body's metabolic rate. However, consuming an ultra-low calorie diet of 500 calories or less has been repeatedly proven to so drastically slow the metabolism as to be counterproductive. With a severely slowed metabolism, you will lose weight only very slowly no matter how few calories you consume. This is because the body thinks it may be starving, so it lowers the metabolism to conserve calories.
The Cons of Intermittent Fasting
While it may not hurt a healthy person, this type of diet still has some problems:
- It may raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to food cravings
- It's been associated with binge eating, defeating its purpose
- It may cause dehydration if you don't drink enough water
- You may experience pronounced fatigue
- You may have difficulty concentrating
- You may experience higher stress levels
- It may contribute to insomnia, depression, and anxiety
- You may feel irritable
The foods we eat influence mood and brain function. When you fast, you may alter the natural biochemical chemistry in the brain. This could lead to disturbances in the mood chemical serotonin, leading to possible depression.
Intermittent fasting probably does little harm if done in a reasonable way. This means never going for more than 24 hours without food. As long as you are a healthy adult and don't have certain diseases, especially Type 1 or 2 diabetes, this diet plan is unlikely to harm you. However, it's critical to drink plenty of water during this time to avoid dehydration. As with any diet plan, results will vary. This type of diet is best limited to adults. Growing teens, especially girls, are already at a higher risk of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. It's important to instill a healthy body image in children and teens to help reduce this risk. Always consult with your physician before beginning any kind of new diet regimen.