Does Intermittent Fasting Actually Work?

The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.

Recent research shows that when it comes to calories, not all mealtimes are created equal. It turns out that it doesn’t just matter how many calories you eat, but when you eat them.

Researchers from Loma Linda University found that one of the best ways to lose weight (and keep it off) is by eating just 1-2 meals a day (namely a large breakfast and a light dinner) and maintaining an overnight fast of at least 18 hours.

The findings are in direct opposition to previous advice, which tells dieters to eat small meals frequently throughout the day. But many people say that eating larger meals less frequently is a more effective way to shed pounds.

scale weigh photo
Flickr | Helga Weber

Such is the philosophy behind intermittent fasting, a new diet trend in which people follow a “feast-and-famine” weight-loss approach. There are many different options when it comes to IF dieting, but here are some of the most popular:

Alternate Day Fasting

This is where a person abstains from eating for 24 hours, and then eats whatever they desire (within reason) for the next 24 hours. While fasting, they drink water, and some people also have tea or coffee (although this varies depending on how strict the dieter wishes to be).

Whole Day Fasting

On this schedule, a person alternates between eating 400-600 calories on a given day, followed by a day of eating normally. Most people do two days of fasting a week, although some choose to do more or less. On the fasting days, the calories are generally eaten earlier in the day, such as a large breakfast or brunch. The person then skips lunch and dinner.

counting calories photo
Flickr | goaliej54

Time Restricted Fasting

With this plan, a person only has a set amount of time each where they eat, such as between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. They may eat what they desire during this time but, once the time is up, they strictly fast until the next day.

Does Intermittent Fasting Actually Work?

Intermittent fasting has gained popularity recently thanks to the “5:2 Diet,” which was popularized by author Michael Mosley (“The Fast Diet“). The 5:2 diet is explained thusly:

“If we were to distill the Fast Diet into a single sound-bite, it would all come down to 5:2. That’s five days of normal eating, with little thought to calorie control and a slice of pie for pudding if that’s what you want. Then, on the other two days, you reduce your calorie intake to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.”

Many people have reported awesome results with the intermittent fasting technique, including Instagram fit-spiration guru Lita Lewis.

However, not everyone thinks that fasting is a good idea. Research has shown that fasting could be harmful to the body (increasing blood glucose levels and causing cell damage), and many experts fear that the approach will lead people to overeat during their “normal eating” days because they were so deprived and hungry on their fasting days.

One study that followed dieters found that people who did an intermittent fasting plan (as opposed to a regular calorie restriction plan) had a more difficult time sticking with their diet, and were more likely to quit the program. That’s easy to understand. Going without food can be difficult, even if it’s just for a day! But if you have the willpower, many people say that intermittent fasting can you great results, including celebrities like Hugh Jackman and Terry Crews.

What do you think? Would you try this diet? Or do you think a healthy diet and regular exercise are the key to long-term weight loss?

[h/t: Shape]