Intermittent Fasting WORKS For Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular as a weight loss tool. Though I’m not officially an expert, I did have great success losing 10 pounds in one-month intermittent fasting with minimal exercise. Since posting my results, I’ve received much commentary, feedback and also questions.
Instead of continuing to answer these questions individually, I’ve chosen to make an all-encompassing intermittent fasting FAQ. I’ll post the most common questions I receive and update this over time. I hope it’ll be well-received as a valuable resource to those curious about trying this method of eating!
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Top Intermittent Fasting Questions — Answered!
1- Must I fast every day or can I miss a day or two?
One of the best things about intermittent fasting is that it’s flexible. If you absolutely must, you can skip here and there, though it’s best to stay consistent. A day or two won’t throw you off your schedule, but you will get better results if you stay on track. For this reason, it’s best to avoid starting intermittent fasting right before a holiday, celebration or vacation.
Some people work breaks into their intermittent fasting plans directly. For example, they’ll do 16 or 20-hour fasts Monday through Friday because it’s easier on work days and switch up during the weekend, so they can enjoy breakfast with their families. The chief way intermittent fasting helps you lose weight is by calorie reduction, so as long as you’re eating fewer calories you should come out okay.
2- What are the different intermittent fasting schedules?
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If you know you have a specific preferred pattern of eating, it may be advantageous for you to make your intermittent fasting plan fit your lifestyle. Here are 6 of the main types of intermittent fasting schedules. See if one of these appeals to you over the others:
- 16/8 to 20/4- The first number in the ratio is hours fasted, and the second number is the feeding window. A standard, basic fast means you’ll fast 16 hours a day and eat all your day’s food in 8 hours. This can vary and be stretched out to fasting 20 hours (or more) and eating in a shorter period of time (like 4 hours).
- 5/2- In this case, you’re eating very low calories (around 500 calories a day) for 2 days a week while eating normally for 5 days.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This approach involves eating normally most days and incorporating a full 24-hour fast once or twice per week. Essentially amounting to fasting from breakfast one day to breakfast the next – or lunch, or dinner.
- Alternate Day Fasting: With this intermittent fasting plan you fast every other day, every week. Depending on your lifestyle and needs, you may fully fast (only calorie-free beverages – no solid food or calories) on fasting days, or you may eat very little (500 calories or less) on fasting days.
- Warrior Diet, OMAD: The Warrior Diet is essentially the same as one meal a day (OMAD) or is a 23:1 intermittent fasting plan. Probably the easiest of all, you don’t eat during the day, then eat one large meal at dinner.
- Spontaneous Fasting: There are no rules here, just skip meals when you feel like it or don’t feel that hungry. Probably the least strict of the bunch, but probably the least effective.
There are obvious benefits and drawbacks to each approach. You’ll have to decide for yourself which makes the most sense. You can always switch up if things don’t go as you think they will.
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3- Is the 8-hour diet the same as intermittent fasting?
Yes, the 8-hour diet is the same as 16:8 intermittent fasting. Fasting for 16 hours, eating for 8. Most people skip breakfast, begin eating around noon, and stop eating after 8 pm or so.
4- Is there a minimum fasting time? What about like 12 hours?
Some say to reap the full benefits of intermittent fasting, you need to go for at least 15 to 16 hours. But there are benefits to fasting for shorter periods, like 12 hours.
Research has shown that most Americans eat for 15 hours a day, leaving just 9 hours for a metabolic break. Reducing the extra calories in those 3 hours can really help. It might be a good starting point if longer fasts are intimidating. You can always increase your fasting time by an hour each week until you reach a comfortable goal.
UPDATE: I Tried Intermittent Fasting Just 12 Hours Per Day – Here’s What Happened!
5- Can I do keto while intermittent fasting?
Yes! Many people have great success losing weight even faster when combining keto with intermittent fasting. Some who love the ketogenic diet claim the reduced carbohydrates and increased proteins and fats help keep them fuller, longer. So, it’s natural that if your diet makes you less hungry, it’s easier to eat less frequently. For an addictive amount of intermittent fasting keto weight loss success stories, check out r/intermittentfasting on reddit.
6- Do I HAVE to skip breakfast?
Nope! You are free to structure your fasting/feasting windows however you’d like. Many find it easier to skip breakfast and opt for coffee in the morning instead. The caffeine acts as an appetite suppressant. But if you work graveyard shift or prefer to switch it up, feel free!
7- What are the best intermittent fasting resources for more information?
The Reddit forum r/intermittentfasting is hands-down the best free resource/community to check out if you’re interested in intermittent fasting. I browsed that forum for a year before jumping in and giving it a try myself.
If you’re looking for scientific information, in addition, this book by Dr. Jason Fung is an excellent choice.
8- Do I have to exercise to lose weight?
Have you ever heard the saying “you can’t outrun a bad diet”? Or “weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise”? This holds true for intermittent fasting and weight loss. You can absolutely lose weight without doing a lick of exercise if your calorie restriction is low enough. But that’s not recommended.
Exercise is key to overall health, and it’ll certainly boost your weight loss efforts while intermittent fasting. That said, you don’t have to exercise, and you’ll still lose weight.
9- What beverages can I have?
During your fasting window, you should stay as close to 0 calories as possible. This means black coffee, sugar-free tea, and water. There are conflicting opinions about very small amounts of calories, such as adding a tablespoon of milk or creamer to your coffee. The same holds true for artificial sweeteners.
Some report drinking sugar-free beverages during their fasting window makes them hungrier. Others say adding that little bit of milk or creamer stalls their weight loss. Some say anything other than water (even zero calorie coffee or tea) stalls them.
In my personal experience, none of this was true. I did wind up going for black coffee, but sugar-free energy drinks never hindered my weight loss or really made me hungrier. You’ll have to see what works for you and adjust over time.
But really on the most basic level… if you’re replacing your morning sugar and creamer loaded coffee along with a bagel and lox with a simple cup or two of coffee or tea with a zero-cal sweetener and a tablespoon of milk… you are going to lose weight.
10- What happens if I quit intermittent fasting?
I’m going to be completely honest here. If you quit intermittent fasting cold turkey and do not have healthy eating habits in place, you’re going to gain the weight back. The way intermittent fasting works is that it restricts your calories. If you go back to eating exactly as you were before, you’ll go right back to that same size.
That’s why intermittent fasting is NOT a cure-all. You need to develop good eating habits while intermittent fasting so eating correctly becomes a lifestyle.
11- What if I’m just miserably hungry?
If you’re miserably hungry – eat! Try again later, or tomorrow, or next week, or never! You’re not supposed to be unhappy or uncomfortable. Intermittent fasting just may not be for you. And that’s okay.
12- What should I eat? Before fasting? After?
Recommendations no matter what diet you’re on will always be to eat “clean”. Just because you’re eating fewer times in a day does not give you license to eat crap. You’ll probably still lose weight eating crap if you only eat it once a day, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Opt for lots of veggies and fruit (unless you’re doing keto, where most fruit is off-limits). Whole foods, lean meats (if you eat meat), limited dairy… I mean we all know what a good, healthy diet is. It’s just hard to follow. Because burgers, pizza, and ice cream.
Tip: Grab your FREE Intermittent Fasting Quick-Start Guide by signing up on this page! It includes a clean eating shopping list.
13- Can I snack at all during a fast?
During your fasting window, you should consume as close to 0 calories as possible. So no snacking.
14- What if I’m not seeing any results from intermittent fasting?
If you’re not seeing any results from intermittent fasting, something is wrong. You’re probably not being consistent enough or are still consuming too many calories within your feasting window.
It’s totally possible to overeat in just one or two meals a day. Double check to see if that’s the case.
Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight – But You Still Have To Do The Work
Intermittent fasting is certainly a great tool that can help you reach your weight loss goals. But it’s not a magic pill. While it can make things easier, it won’t do all the work for you.
Hopefully, this guide answered many of the burning questions you’ve had about intermittent fasting. If you have any additional questions, ask in the comments below. And don’t forget to grab your FREE intermittent fasting tracker & planner by signing up on this page.
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