Fasting and Weight Loss

Weight loss can be tricky; it can be neither linear nor predictable and cause a roller coaster of emotions too. You feel happy and excited when the number on the scale goes down, or disappointed, frustrated, and discouraged when the scale goes up. With many so-called “weight loss programs” being advertised & touted on the market, it can feel confusing and overwhelming as to what approach seems best. More importantly, what is going to be the most sustainable and realistic in the long run.

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

When you fast, you are giving your insulin levels a chance to “breath,” allowing your fat cells to release stored energy. This is the name of the game! In order for your body to burn fat, you need to keep your insulin levels down long enough to allow this process to happen. This is the exact opposite of what happens when you eat. Upon the consumption of food, especially simple carbohydrates, your body breaks these down into sugars to use as future energy. Whatever is unused, though, is stored in your fat cells as, you guessed it, fat! Since insulin is the only way sugar can enter our cells, when it does, it enters our fat cells and stays for the long haul.

Here are three of the most common intermittent fasting protocols:

1) Alternate Day Fasting: This fast follows the guidelines of eating every other day, and then fasting on your non eating days. For example, if you fast on a Saturday, then you would eat normal on Sunday, followed by fasting on Monday, and following suit for the remainder of the week. If a more modified approach is needed, you can eat approximately 500 calories or less on your fasting days, and then resume your normal eating on non-fasting days.

2) 5/2 Fasting: The benefits of this approach allow you flexibility and customization on your fasting days to what works the best for your schedule. This fasting protocol allows you to eat normally 5 days out of the week, unrestricted, followed by 2 days of the week in a fasted state.

3) Time-Restricted Feeding: While there are more intense approaches to this particular fast, a “16/8” time-restricted feeding is just like it sounds - you fast for 16 hours, followed by an 8 hour eating window. This is a great starting protocol for a beginner since it can easily be implemented into your current lifestyle. 

Now that we have discussed intermittent fasting from a general weight loss standpoint, let’s see how fasts differ between men & women?

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Fasting For Weight Loss: Women

Two of the biggest factors women need to stay mindful of when fasting are the possible hormonal and metabolic changes that may occur. Women tend to have greater success with intermittent fasting when a more modified approach is taken. Common changes to pay attention to when beginning a fasting regime include disruptions in menstrual cycle, a decrease in estrogen levels (watch out for mood swings, changes in body composition, interrupted sleep, digestion issues, etc.), and a shift in hunger, energy, and cravings. On the other hand, there are many positive changes you can expect to see as well. These include, but not are not limited to:

  • 💁‍♀️ An overall change in body composition, including increased muscle mass and feeling more confident in your own skin
  • 💁‍♀️ Improved mood
  • 💁‍♀️ Decrease the risk or management of heart disease and/or diabetes
  • 💁‍♀️ Become more in-tune with your body’s natural hunger, energy, and cravings
  • 💁‍♀️ Reduced inflammation throughout the body

Fasting For Weight Loss: Men

Different from women, a male’s higher metabolic response [as a result of intermittent fasting] is largely due in part to both their body composition and physical size. While women, generally, “store and conserve” as a means of survival when food is scarce, a male’s metabolism, actually, increases. This dates back to the “hunter-gather” days when fuel was needed for man to be able to hunt and provide for his family. Here are some of the beneficial effects men may expect to see from adopting an intermittent fasting protocol.

  • 💁‍♂️ Improved body composition, weight, and overall cardiovascular health
  • 💁‍♂️ Promotes longevity & the aging process
  • 💁‍♂️ Decreases inflammation
  • 💁‍♂️ Increases against any oxidative stress on the body