If you’ve been dieting for awhile, you might have this fantasy: You wake up one day with the ability to eat whatever you want, without packing on the pounds. While this might sound like the stuff of legends, the truth is there is a diet that lets you consume more of the foods you love. Also known as IF, intermittent fasting is the practice of cycling through periods of eating and fasting with the goal of losing weight and boosting health. Read on to find out more about how intermittent fasting works, and whether the dietary tactic really has the effects it claims.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
When utilized responsibly, intermittent fasting can, in fact, help individuals lose weight and keep it off. While you might assume that people who follow this dietary practice are more likely to overeat during their non-fasting hours, research suggests this isn’t the case. In fact, according to a study from the British Journal of Nutrition, intermittent fasters consumed an extra 10 to 22% on feast days but reduced calories 28% overall throughout the week. So, they still ate less and lost more.
IF for Overall Health
Weight loss isn’t the only benefit associated with intermittent fasting. Studies prove that the dietary tactic can also help patients reduce cholesterol. According to a 2015 study in “Nutrition Reviews,” participants who engaged in alternate-day fasting—a practice that involves eating a normal diet on one day and fasting or consuming very few calories the next—reduced cholesterol by 10% to 21% over a 3- to 12-week period.
IF for Reducing Inflammation
Believe it or not, IF is also proven to fight inflammation. According to the Journal of Obesity, fasting has anti-inflammatory benefits for the neuroimmune system, something that a high-fat diet prevents. A buzzword in the medical community, inflammation has been associated with a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer. If you want to protect the long-term health of yourself and loved ones, IF might just be the solution.
Are You a Good Candidate for Intermittent Fasting?
While the evidence that intermittent fasting really works seems clear, experts do caution that the practice can be difficult for certain patients to follow. Individuals who struggle with counting calories might also struggle to put effort into maintaining a fasting schedule. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your goal of losing weight and getting fit with IF.
Because there are different types of intermittent fasting, you have a good shot at finding one that’s right for you. For example, if you find it hard to stick to a 16:8 schedule, in which participants fast for 16 hours a day and eat for 8, you might want to employ alternate-day fasting. On the other hand, if you enjoy snacking, that long period of fasting can seem impossible. Do your research to decide which eating plan matches your needs.