Can intermittent fasting cause weight loss?
Today’s topic we will talk about fasting and the importance of it.
Real story, I just had a funny, but eye-opening experience last week. I was training one of my clients who brought her 7-year-old son with her to the class. So, I had some conversations with him to keep him involved. At some point in the class he asked – “Why is my mommy here?” I said – “Your mommy is getting in shape and losing some weight. Do you know how to lose weight?” His answer was instantaneous, “You just don’t eat”. Isn’t that awesome, little kid with no knowledge of human physiology knows it. But as adults we become too smart for our own good. We start looking for smart scientific ways and easy buttons.
Let’s use logic here. If I were to lock you in a room for 7 days with only water, do you think you would lose weight or gain weight? Obviously, we all know the answer. You will lose weight. And yet, most people are looking for a different answer. An answer that will be easy and comfortable, most humans are always looking for an easy button.
Let me break it to you – You can’t succeed at anything being comfortable. Even having sex, as pleasurable as it is, was not comfortable when you had it for the first time! Got my point? So, now let’s dive into the question itself. Does fasting help you lose weight? If so, how does it work?
Fasting WILL help you lose weight. That’s probably what you wanted to hear! Now I assume you’re asking yourself how it all works… Okay, let’s begin. When you fast, your body needs energy for its metabolic activities and for you to move around and continue on with your daily activities. At first, it will use the available food that you have in your digestive track. After that supply has been exhausted, assuming you continue to fast, it will use glycogen (sugar) stored in your body. Once that is gone, your body is forced to look for other source(s) of energy and the next available source will be triglycerides (fat) stored in your fat cells. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve when losing weight by fasting.
Sounds great doesn’t it!
Now you are probably wondering, how long does it take before you start burning fat while fasting? Typically, it will take your body around 12 hours to enter a true fasted state. That is why majority of people were skinny 100 years ago. They ate 3 meals per day, zero snacks (including coffee) and had 12-14 hours window(s) between their last meal of the day and first meal of the next day.
Today, most people snack between the time they open their eyes and a few minutes prior to bed. No doubt we are having obesity issues. Ok, so you understand that it will take you at least 12 hours of no food to start burning fat. Now, let’s say you will fast once a month for 12, 16, 24, 48 or even 72 hours (these are the typical time ranges people fast).
Will you lose weight? Yes, you will lose some weight during that fast.
However, you will gain it all back within the next couple of days when you start eating normally again. Your body has a weight set point (more on this in a different article). That means it will try to come back to the weight you were carrying for the longest time in your life.
So, how do you fast lose weight and not gain it back? Well, the key is Consistency. It has to be your life style. The good news is that you do not need to starve yourself to death. You can make fasting effective in as short as 12-16 hours per day. It is not as hard as you may think! Your body will become used to operating in a fasted state. This is how I grew up and it was not called fasting those days. It was just the normal way of living and it worked!
Now don’t start to think you can fast for half the day, then go eat pizza, cheeseburgers and drink pop during your feeding time and expect to see results. Do yourself a favor and clean up your eating habits. You can do both at the same time. It does not mean that you should never eat pizza (I wouldn’t), you can. But, limit it to once in a while. Stick to unprocessed whole foods! And last but not least, don’t just fast or go on any diet to lose weight. Start a proper exercise program. Your results will skyrocket if you combine fasting and training in a fasted state. If you train with no insulin in your blood, you burn fat. Train on fasted state and wait another 60-90 minutes before you start eating after your fast. You do that and you’ll see the best results!