Powerful Intermittent Fasting Methods for Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting has become one of the popular tools for weight loss. With this fasting method, you cycle between windows of eating and extended periods of fasting or calorie restriction.
It promotes weight loss by reducing calorie intake. It also pushes the body to burn fat after utilizing all the calories from the previous meal.
When done consistently and combined with physical activity, intermittent fasting can help you drop 7-11 pounds over ten weeks. Studies show that most of the weight loss with intermittent fasting is due to fat burning.
How fast you burn fat will vary depending on the type of intermittent fasting you are practicing. OMAD and 16:8 are the most popular weight loss methods. But there are other intermittent fasting approaches designed for different people’s needs.
Let’s go through the top intermittent fasting plans for weight loss, starting from the easiest to the most challenging.
12-hour Fasting (Best for Beginners)
Intermittent fasting can be hard, mainly if you are used to eating three meals a day plus snacks in between. As a beginner, you want a sustainable and less restrictive plan to transition you into a life of fasting. That’s what the 12-hour fasting method is all about.
It means having all your meals within 12 hours and abstaining from food for the remaining 12 hours. For instance, you could stop eating at 8 PM and then break the fast at 8 AM the following day.
The overnight fasting method should not be difficult to get into because you have practically been doing it when sleeping at night. The emphasis here is planning your food intake so that you are not eating anything for 12 hours. And this means saying no to nighttime snacking, which has been linked to a higher risk of weight gain.
Why it Works
A benefit of the overnight fasting method is that you’re not skipping meals. Also, it’s easy to implement and maintain for the long run because you’ll be fasting while asleep. You won’t burn as much fat as other advanced fasting methods discussed below. But it stops unnecessary calorie intake, which is essentially the first step to losing weight.
5:2 Intermittent Fasting
With the 5:2 dieting method, you normally eat for five days and track your calorie intake to a low level on two non-consecutive days. Women should consume 500 calories during calorie restriction days. Men should aim for 600 calories per day.
You are free to spread your 500/600 calories as you wish throughout the day during the calorie-restriction days. For instance, you may choose to limit your breakfast, lunch, and dinner to 200 calories each. Or spread the allowed number of calories between two meals so you skip one.
A controlled trial of the 5:2 method suggested that it’s as effective as traditional dieting. However, the researchers noted that most people preferred the 5:2 intermittent fasting citing that it was “easy to follow.”
Why it Works
Researchers generally accept the 5:2 intermittent fasting method as ideal for weight loss because it creates a calorie deficit. On average, adults burn 1800 calories daily without exercise. If you limit your daily calorie intake to 600 calories, you’ll be burning more calories than you’re consuming. This may lead to weight loss. While you are free to “eat whatever you want” during your non-fasting days, you want to be cautious not to consume more calories than the daily recommended amount.
The 16:8 is restricted fasting that divides your day into two windows: 8 hours of eating and 16 hours of fasting. An eight-hour eating period may not seem long enough for your three meals. But it means having your first meal of the day at 11 AM and your last at 7 PM or any other arrangement.
You can eat all your meals and snacks during your eating window. During fasting, you are only allowed non-sweetened drinks, such as black coffee, tea, and water.
This type of intermittent fasting is more or less an extension of the 12-hour fasting. Most people find it less restrictive compared to the 5:2 method. A recent study found that the 16:8 method helps decrease fat mass without affecting muscle mass when combined with resistance training.
Why it Works
The 16:8 intermittent fasting method limits the number of calories you take in a day. Let’s face it: although not impossible, eating 2000-2500 calories within 8 hours is practically a challenge. The other way the 16:8 method promotes weight loss is through fat burning. The body enters ketosis (the metabolic state of burning fat) after 12 hours of fasting.
The One Meal a Day (OMAD) is currently the most popular intermittent fasting method on social media. It’s touted as one of the fastest ways of losing weight.
OMAD is an extreme fasting method involving eating only one meal daily. You abstain from food and calorie-containing drinks for 23 hours, then pack all of your nutritional needs in one satisfying meal in the last hour of the day.
Eating one meal a day may seem a bit extreme. But other than feeling extremely hungry, OMAD is safe for most healthy adults. The major advantage of doing OMAD is that you start seeing results from the first day. Most people lose 2-7 lbs within the first week of doing OMAD, while obese individuals may lose up to 11 pounds.
Why it Works
Weight loss with OMAD occurs because calorie intake is extremely restricted. Compared to the 16:8 intermittent fasting method, it’s even more challenging to eat all of your calories within the one-hour non-fasting window of OMAD. On top of that, fasting for 23 hours allows your body more time to stay in the ketosis state, meaning it will break down and burn more fat than other intermittent fasting methods.
Most people turn to intermittent fasting as a weight loss tool. But that’s just one of the many benefits that this eating pattern offers. There is solid scientific evidence showing that intermittent fasting can help with general health improvement, particularly when combined with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
But it’s equally important to point out that intermittent fasting is not for everyone. If you are pregnant, diabetic, or have a history of eating disorders, you should probably consider calorie restriction. Intermittent fasting and conventional calorie restriction basically do the same thing: reducing the amount of energy going in.