If you’re serious about losing weight but are sick and tired of diets, absolutely read this well-researched post about 16/8 Intermittent Fasting. It’s a relatively quick read and will completely change your perspective on weight loss.
Why diets don’t work
Let’s first acknowledge that no one likes diets. They either limit the types of foods you can eat or the amount of calories you can consume in a way that is just not sustainable.
Even worse, diets may actually reduce your body’s ability to burn fat. This is the exact opposite of what you want when trying to lose weight!
When you don’t eat enough calories (like with some low-calorie diets), your metabolism shifts into “starvation mode” and slows down to ensure you can still fuel bodily functions. Check out this post on natural ways to boost your metabolism if you’re curious to learn more about the topic.
Intermittent fasting for weight loss
Unlike diets, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that helps you lose weight by manipulating the timing of eating instead of the type or amount of food eaten.
With intermittent fasting, you alternate between fasting intervals (periods of no eating) and feeding intervals. There are lots of intermittent fasting schedules that are effective for weight loss. However, when getting started, many prefer to try a type of intermittent fasting called “time-restricted eating”.
Time-restricted feeding includes all intermittent fasting schedules that limit the hours you eat each day. Thus, the fasting intervals are shorter in length (less than 24 hours), generally ranging anywhere from 12 to 20 hours.
Why does intermittent fasting lead to weight loss?
Intermittent fasting leads to weight loss because the short breaks from eating that occur during the fasting periods have some pretty interesting effects. These breaks both lower blood levels of insulin (a hormone that tells your body to store fat) and increase fat-burning hormones like norepinephrine.
Other positive metabolic changes associated with weight loss include reduction in triglycerides, low density lipoprotein (LDL), cholesterol, and blood sugar.
In addition, by eating within a narrow period of time, intermittent fasting can lead to a natural reduction in daily calorie consumption. This effortless reduction can be roughly 300 calories according to a recent study. That’s close to the amount of calories burned running 3 miles!
And so with fewer overall calories consumed and a boost in fat-burning power, you can start to see why losing weight with intermittent fasting is so appealing!
Is intermittent fasting for women?
The answer is a resounding yes! In fact, studies of intermittent fasting in women have shown a variety of benefits even beyond weight loss. This includes improved reproductive, enhanced mental health, and prevention of cancers and musculoskeletal disorders common in middle-aged and elderly women.
So what’s the catch?
It’s simply that women need to be mindful that they are eating enough during the feeding intervals. This is because women could be susceptible to hormonal changes if calorie consumption slips too low.
This is true not just for intermittent fasting, but for all dietary changes that can result in reduced caloric intake. By the way, this includes diets that are low-calorie by definition (and even low-carb diets). It’s just that no one tends to talk about this downside of these diets.
Please keep in mind that intermittent fasting is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing due to their increased energy requirements.
My day on intermittent fasting
My preferred intermittent fasting schedule is the 16/8 method. 16/8 consists of daily cycles of 16-hour fasting and 8-hour feeding intervals.
This basically means you eat all of your meals and snacks during an 8-hour period, like between 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM.
Across a week, 16/8 looks like this:
One of the keys to integrating intermittent fasting into my lifestyle was being flexible in my approach. So I don’t follow a strict 16/8 schedule… I modify it so that I can appropriately respond to hunger.
And since studies have shown that you can achieve positive weight loss benefits from as little as 12 hours of fasting per day (hallelujah!), I just make sure I fast for a minimum of 12 hours each day (which includes overnight sleeping time). For me, this is generally 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM.
Here’s my typical day on intermittent fasting.
6:00 AM (or earlier)
My two-year old son is ready to start his day regardless of what I have in mind. I try to grab my first glass of water before heading in to his room. Staying hydrated during intermittent fasting is important for managing hunger and supporting overall health.
I’ve been fasting since 7:00 PM, so at this time I’ve hit my minimum 12-hour fasting mark. I’m almost never hungry at this time, and ideally I’d get a 20- or 30-minute workout in while still in my fasted state.
When in a fasted state, insulin levels are low. Research has shown that when insulin is low, the body breaks down and burns more fat to fuel activities.
Thus, doing exercise while in a fasted cardio is a great way to boost your weight loss efforts because it increases your body’s overall fat-burning abilities. But because your glycogen stores (immediate source of energy) are lower in a fasted state, exercise intensity should be low to moderate.
I make breakfast for my son, and sometimes a small bite for me too. If I’m hungry, I eat just enough to take the edge off. But I continue to drink lots of water and sometimes a little echinacea tea with honey.
9:00 – 11:00 AM
I usually break my fast at some point during this time. I tend to have snacks or a small meal during this time and save my biggest meal of the day for a late lunch in the middle of the afternoon.
1:30 – 3:30 PM
My little one naps during this time of day. And I don’t know if it’s the peace and quiet or how my body has adapted to intermittent fasting, but I’m always super hungry!
The beauty of intermittent fasting is that, during the feeding interval, you can eat what you want and in the quantities that you want. But the best intermittent fasting foods are well-balanced meals that provide good nutrition and help control hunger during fasting periods.
For this meal I eat a relatively large quantity of food and always includes a good bit of protein (lean meat and/or cheese).
Eating foods high in protein is an effective way of managing hunger and reducing cravings by making you feel fuller for longer.
In fact, one study found that women ate nearly 450 fewer calories per day when 30% of their diet was comprised of protein. These women also lost an average of 11 pounds in 12 weeks, all by simply eating more high-protein foods.
5:30 – 6:30 PM
After the work day, my husband plays with our son. I try my best to sneak in a workout during this time.
I love ab workouts, and have a few go-to routines that I use for a quick burn. But this is also a good time of day to get in a metabolism-boosting, fat-burning, total body HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout.
I finish my last meal of the day around this time and start my fast. I tend to have a light meal (small sandwich or some pasta) along with a green smoothie (kale, spinach, and fruit = yummy). We even have our son drinking the green smoothie, so it’s an entire family affair!
Bed time! Between my last meal and going to bed, I have a bit more water to stay hydrated and prepare for my overnight fast. But I’m careful to not overdo it so I don’t have unwanted trips to the bathroom disrupting my slumber!
Intermittent fasting is a powerful yet practical weight loss tool that has been gaining popularity for one simple reason: it works! If you’re interested in learning how to get started with intermittent fasting, check out this handy beginner’s guide.
And don’t forget to visit my site for FREE access to my exclusive content, including fitness and weight loss tips, trackers, and more!
Do you incorporate Intermittent Fasting? Which method do you practice?
Guest Blogger Bio: Jumaah I. Goldberg, DPT
After 12 years in healthcare communications, Dr. of Physical Therapy, former All-American gymnast, and busy toddler mom, Jumaah Goldberg, decided to expand her reach to help women who seek to make fitness a way of life. She created Mind Your Damn Fitness, a community that inspires fitness transformations by providing practical tools on how to eat healthy, lose weight, and exercise at home. Visit MindYourDamnFitness.com today to learn more about Jumaah’s approach to weight loss and fitness. And don’t forget to follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and Twitter!