There are tons of diets out there and a lot of them are almost laughable. Despite that, my advice has always been to do whatever works for you as long as you eat in a calorie deficit. Intermittent fasting isn’t necessarily a traditional diet. Traditional diets typically tell you what you need to eat and how much to eat. Instead intermittent fasting deals with eating your food at a certain time. While doing IF, you can eat what you want as long as you follow the time constraints. Most people do intermittent fasting to lose weight.
Note: IF stands for Intermittent Fasting
How do I start IF?
To do an IF diet you need to have a certain amount of time when you can eat (eating window), and a period where you completely avoid food (fasting). You are essentially fasting for a portion of the day. The most common IF protocol is having an 8 hour eating window and a 16 hour fast. Say someone wakes up at 8am, and decides to eat, they now have until 4pm to eat all of the calories in the day. After 4pm they don’t eat anything until the next morning. Many people adjust their eating windows according to when they get hungry and when they like to eat. Additionally people can shorten their eating windows, ie, having a 4 hour eating window and a 20 hour fast. The longer you go without eating the longer you will be hungry. If you really plan on sticking to IF, you should start off slowly because it can be very hard to stick to if you get food cravings.
Does IF help you lose weight fast than regular dieting?
Some people out there swear by IF and claim its the best way to lose weight. However, a calorie/energy deficit is the only way to lose weight. If you do IF and you binge eat high calorie food (eat at a caloric surplus) you will not lose weight. That being said, some people notice the scale drop faster during IF. This is because they weigh themselves after a long fast while they are dehydrated. Without food and the reduction in water weight, of course the scale will go down. The reality is IF has been shown to be just as efficient as regular dieting. So no, IF is not superior to a regular calorie reduction, but some people might benefit from it.
So who benefits from IF?
IF can be good for people who have difficulty controlling their eating habits. If you’re someone who just sits around and snacks on food all day, IF can be beneficial. You will be able to control your eating window and avoid snacking (extra calories). People out there who eat multiple meals a day often run into the problem of overeating. I’ve had this problem myself because it is very difficult to put down the fork once you already picked it up. As a result, these people end up eating more than they thought, and end up gaining weight when they thought they would lose. IF can help you build discipline when it comes to eating. You will gain the ability to say “No” to food/cravings when you have to.
Have I tried IF?
I’ve tried it a few times, and had decent results. However, it was very difficult to stick to because I would run into problems in my social life. I couldn’t go out to dinner with my family or friends if I wasn’t in my eating window. This made it a real pain if I wanted enjoy socializing. To combat this, I could have moved my eating window to the evening. But that wouldn’t have worked for me because I always wake up hungry and can’t function well in the mornings without something in my stomach. I remember going to class without eating a few times and my stomach would literally growl in a lecture. For this reason IF will not be ideal for everyone. Imagine having a first date at restaurant and telling her you’re not eating because you’re doing IF. That being said, I’ve lost most of my fat doing traditional dieting and I will probably not do IF again in the future.
IF can be a good tool for weight loss if used correctly. Remember to count your calories even if you are doing IF. As an individual you need to figure out what suits you the best. You may decide that IF works great for your schedule. When doing IF I always had a decent sized breakfast and a huge lunch, I would skip dinner and wake up hungry to start all over again. Have fun with your diet, but keep in mind Intermittent Fasting isn’t the only way to lose weight.