Intermittent fasting has become a popular method for shedding weight. While more traditional dietary advice concerns food types rather than food timings, many people are finding miraculous results from basing their eating habits around the latter. With those success stories in mind, we’ve taken a look at the research into whether fasting really helps you shed fat.
When Do People Eat While Intermittent Fasting?
The most common form of fasting is time-restricted, which usually involves an eight-hour window during the day when you are allowed to eat whatever you want and a 16-hour window when you can’t eat or drink fluids containing calories.
Other people favour the 5-2 fasting system, where you eat normally for five days of the week but consume just a quarter of your recommended calories on the remaining two days. Advocates of fasting believe it encourages fat loss by influencing metabolism and hormone levels.
Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Recent research has supported the effectiveness of fasting. In July of 2019, a study published in Obesity found time-restricted eating to have a considerable impact on weight loss. Overweight participants practiced two fasting schedules for four days each; an early time-restricted eating schedule, which allowed food consumption within a six-hour period (8am-2pm), and a control schedule which allowed food consumption within a 12-hour period (8am-8pm). The same amount and types of food were consumed in both schedules.
The metabolism of participants was tested along with appetite levels throughout the day and night. It was found that participants lost more weight during the early time-restricted schedule, and researchers concluded the difference was due to reduced appetite. Those findings support research over a longer time frame too. A review of studies into intermittent fasting between 2000 and 2018 found it results in a reduction of fat mass.
Animal research has also shown fasting to have other health benefits as well as weight loss, such as a reduction in cardiovascular disease.
So while it may not be right for everyone, there’s a wealth of research to suggest intermittent fasting does help with weight loss.