Intermittent fasting no exercise


How Much Weight Can You Lose Doing Intermittent Fasting?

I find intermittent fasting to be the fastest and easiest weight loss program I’ve tried, and I’ve tried them all over the last almost-50 years. I lose 10-15 pounds a month with intermittent fasting whereas with a very-low-carb diet (under 25 grams or so of carbs a day), I lose 4-5 pounds a month. The intermittent fasting is easier and more effective. In that 10-15 pound range, I hit the low end when I am more sedentary and higher in caloric intake and I hit the high end when I am getting moderate exercise daily and/or very calorie-restricted. You may lose more or less depending, of course, we are all wired a bit differently.

In my case, I eat one meal a day (OMAD) in a one-hour window. I eat low carbohydrate foods in that window to ensure that I stay in ketosis, forcing my body to burn fat for fuel rather than relying on sugar fuel from simple sugars and carbohydrates. If you eat a burger in your eating window, your body is going to start burning that hamburger bun instead of your fat and it may take two to three days to earn your way back into ketosis, slowing down your overall weight loss.

Watch your carbs.

(Check out all of our resources on intermittent fasting here.)

In fact, if you find your weight loss has stalled or slowed, your carb intake is the first thing I would look at. The second thing is your overall calorie intake.

How to speed up your weight loss?

That said, some of us have a whole lot of pounds to lose and we may be looking for more than 10 pounds a month. I go through phases where I try to lose a lot quickly. Coming back from Christmas vacation I told the family: “I’m going in for another 20!” I just mean that I am stepping things up and drastically cutting my calories for a short period of time. I do this in two ways:

1) I go on a multi-day water fast.
2) I eat a calorie-restricted meal in my one meal a day (OMAD).

Both cut calories. The first is just an extreme version.

Obviously I lose more weight on a complete water fast but it doesn’t always work in my life. In one case, I planned to fast for 10 days and made it to Day 3 and just felt very tired. My hair started falling out just a bit. I took a small step back and realized that I needed to supplement my diet with vitamins and minerals, so I stopped the complete fast, moved to a calorie-restricted model, and began a normal regimen of vitamin and mineral supplementation until I felt built up enough to try the water fast again.

Some numbers:

  • In my first big water fast that jump-started my whole program, I lost 28 pounds in a 16-day fast.
  • In the very first 3 days of that initial 16 pound fast, I lost 15 pounds, likely a lot of water weight.
  • After my initial 15-pounds of water on that 16-day fast, I lost about a pound a day.
  • I find generally that if I water fast for a day, I will lose about a pound and maybe a bit more. The range seems to be in the 1/2 to 1 1/2 range among other fasters.
  • If I eat daily but restrict my calories to about 500, I lose about a half a pound a day.

In my case, if I ate one meal every other day, I lose 15-20 pounds a month. This strategy is very effective and I find it to be do-able. You can hit the vitamins and minerals on your eating day and keep your eating in the low-carb goal range and lose quite a bit of weight pretty quickly.

How much exercise does this include?

Just to clarify, during my initial weight loss, my exercise routine has been fairly minimal. The weight loss is due to the eating and fasting program rather than exercise. If you are exercising (good for you!), you will lose more.


This Body’s On Fire: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss and More

Your Body on Fire

“Excess energy intake, weight gain and subsequent adiposity are consistently linked to illness, disability and mortality.” – Harvie & Howell, 2017

Intermittent fasting has been shown to change the body and its metabolism in many ways, in both animals and in humans. One of the most important metabolic changes brought on by fasting is a “metabolic switch” from carb-burning to fat-burning. The fat-burning metabolic state is known as ketosis, and is characterized by the production of ketone bodies that serve as an important fuel source for the brain as well as other tissues. Recent findings suggest that ketones may also serve as signaling molecules, with functions that are more like that of hormones in the body. Ketones may modify the activity of proteins and change gene expression associated with the metabolism of fats, repair of DNA damage and prevention of cellular stress.

“In humans, depending upon their level of physical activity, 12 to 24 hours of fasting typically results in a 20% or greater decrease in serum glucose and depletion of the hepatic glycogen, accompanied by a switch to a metabolic mode in which nonhepatic glucose, fat-derived ketone bodies, and free fatty acids are used as energy sources.” – Longo & Mattson, 2014

Intermittent metabolic switching from carb-burning to fat-burning, which fasting can trigger, has been shown to be beneficial not only for weight loss but also for brain health. John Newman at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging has found that switching in and out of ketosis over a lifetime significantly improves the memory of aging mice. The switch back to carb-burning and glucose metabolism upon refeeding after a fast may be an important component of the brain health benefits of fasting. Refeeding after a fast triggers cellular recycling (technically known as autophagy) the growth of new nerve cell connections, for example.

“With fasting and extended exercise, liver glycogen stores are depleted and ketones are produced from adipose-cell-derived fatty acids. This metabolic switch in cellular fuel source is accompanied by cellular and molecular adaptations of neural networks in the brain that enhance their functionality and bolster their resistance to stress, injury and disease.” – Mattson et al., 2018

Not all approaches to intermittent fasting have the same metabolic impacts. We are also realizing that when it comes to nutrition and the impacts of nutrient restriction, different bodies respond differently on an individual level. That being said, here is what your body might experience on various intermittent fasting schedules…

Weight Loss

“Randomised trials demonstrate that intentional weight loss reduces type 2 diabetes, all-cause mortality and increases cognitive and physical function.” – Harvie & Howell, 2017

Studies of intermittent fasting, periodic or multi-day fasting and time-restricted feeding have all been shown to various extents to foster weight loss, improve metabolic health indicators and reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Intermittent fasting is often practiced as a significant or total* energy restriction protocol two days per week or every other day.

*With a total energy restriction, people only drink water, water with electrolytes and non-calorie drinks like coffee and tea.

Intermittent fasting typically has the greatest impacts on weight for obese individuals. In a study of research participants of healthy weight, Dr. Krista Varady found that healthy weight people lost half a pound per week, on average, with alternate day fasting, while obese individuals lost 2 to 3 pounds per week. The good news is that intermittent fasting, particularly time-restricted eating, has been shown to improve metabolic health indicators in humans even in the absence of weight loss.

Whether you want to lose 5 pounds or 100 pounds with intermittent fasting, you’ll want to tune into what you eat and when you eat. Learn learn to recognize actual hunger from external triggers that make you eat, eat a balanced diet with plenty of plant fats and fiber and stick to your fast-day calorie goals.

Greater Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin sensitivity describes how sensitive various tissues in your body are to the effects of insulin. Insulin sensitivity can depend on our level of physical activity, our sleep patterns, what we eat and even when we eat.

Time-restricted feeding is one approach to intermittent fasting that may target processes and pathways associated with our circadian rhythms, including insulin sensitivity. Did you know that your metabolism changes throughout the day, as regulated by your internal biological clock as well as external factors such as exposure to bright light and food intake? For example, you are naturally more insulin resistant (your tissues don’t take up glucose as efficiently) in the evening as your body prepares to burn fat as you sleep. Courtney Peterson and colleagues published a study in Cell Metabolism this year showing that early time-restricted feeding, or eating within a 6-hour “feeding period” every day with breakfast around 8 am and dinner before 3 pm, improved insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, oxidative stress and appetite in men with prediabetes. These health benefits occurred even in the absence of weight loss.

What does this mean? Daily eating schedules that tune nutrient intake to your biological clock are metabolically favorable. Metabolic health indicators like insulin sensitivity and low levels of inflammatory factors are in turn associated with reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to eat early!

A Different Gut Microbiome Profile

Time-restricted feeding has also been shown to modify the gut microbiota, or the collection of microorganisms living in the gut. Like other aspects of our metabolism, our gut microbiomes ideally change routinely throughout a 24-hour period, according to a circadian rhythm that is largely dictated by when we eat. In fact, the daily cycling of the gut microbiome is thought to be a biological clock of sorts. This clock helps regulate metabolic activity in various tissues throughout our body, including our brain.

Time-restricted feeding protocols allow individuals (or mice) to consume food ad libitum (as much as they want) but only within specific feeding windows. These feeding windows are usually less than 12 hours long. Studies that involve meal skipping or eating fewer than three meals per day are often used to measure the impacts of time-restricted eating,

We’ve known for a long time that what we eat can change our gut microbiota. But many animal studies have revealed that when we eat can also impact our gut microbes. Time-restricted feeding can be protective against diet-induced obesity and diabetes. In a 2012 Cell Metabolism study in mice, animals provided a high-fat diet chow throughout the night and day wound up obese and metabolically dysfunctional, with a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But mice on the same diet albeit where the availability of the chow was restricted to 8 hours during their active phase were protected from obesity, metabolic dysfunction and inflammation.

In human observational studies, prolonged overnight fasting (at least 13 hours per night) has been associated with reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence in women, reduced risk of insulin resistance and reduced inflammation. This may be in part due to changes in gut microbes that occur with fasting. Intermittent fasting may kill off “bad” bacteria while fostering the growth of gut microbes that produce beneficial compounds like lactate and short-chain fatty acids that help fight inflammation and glucose intolerance. These gut microbe-produced compounds also protect your heart! Fiber also helps to feed these beneficial gut microbes.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to feed your gut microbes!

Reduced mTOR Activity and Increased Autophagy

At least in animal models, intermittent fasting has been shown to exert its benefits on metabolic health by reducing the activity of mTOR and activating autophagy. Autophagy is a recycling mechanism for cellular components that our cells use to deal with stress and prevent untimely cell death. mTOR, or the mechanistic target of rapamycin, is an enzyme that is the master regulator of protein synthesis and cell growth. Lowering of mTOR activity has been associated with autophagy and extended lifespan and healthspan in animals.

One 2009 study found that mTOR phosphorylation (which is also blocked by the drug rapamycin to lower mTOR activity) was lower in muscle tissue after 14 days of alternate-day fasting in a small sample of healthy men. Other animal studies have revealed positive impacts of calorie restriction, intermittent fasting and protein restriction on mTOR activity and thus autophagy, or recycling of cellular components.

Recycle your body in 2019 with intermittent fasting!

Reduced Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

Oxidative stress occurs as potentially harmful reactive oxygen species build up within the cells of your body that are metabolically active. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are, as their name suggests, reactive. They can react with and cause harm to your proteins and even your DNA. If a cell in your body can’t counteract this damage quickly enough, it might become senescent, spew out inflammation or even diet.

Intermittent fasting forces muscle, brain and other tissues (although possibly not fat, thus the rapid fat burning seen during ketosis!) to become more efficient in their breakdown of metabolites and production of energy. This can help reduce ROS and levels of inflammation. Fasting also triggers the body to produce more antioxidants that help clean up ROS.

In one small scale but promising study of intermittent fasting in humans, overweight adults with moderate asthma had improved pulmonary function, airway resistance and levels of inflammation with 8 weeks of alternate day fasting. The participants also had higher levels of ketones and less evidence of oxidative stress following the intervention. They also lost an average of 8% of their body weight over the 8 weeks.

“Not immediately but between two and four weeks of being on the intermittent fasting regimen, asthma symptoms, airway resistance and markers of inflammation and oxidative stress went down,” said study author and NIH researcher Mark Mattson. “The improvement persisted up to two months following the intervention.”

While larger scale human studies are needed, intermittent fasting appears to have a range of anti-inflammatory effects in humans. Ramadan fasting has been shown to positively impact body weight, body fat, levels of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-6, TNF-α) and blood pressure.

How to Fast for Weight Loss

Weight loss studies of intermittent fasting have typically investigated the 5:2 diet or alternate day fasting interventions lasting three to six months. For most people in such studies, it takes two to three months to lose 10 pounds.

The good news is that most studies of intermittent fasting using the 5:2 diet protocol or minimal calorie fasting days have reported statistically significant weight loss, approximately equivalent to what can be achieved through continuous calorie restriction. Reported weight loss outcomes of the 5:2 diet range from 3.2% weight loss in comparison to a control group over a 12-week period to 8.0% weight loss in an 8-week trial enrolling overweight adults with asthma.

In one 22-day study of alternate day water fasting, participants experienced a mean of 2.5% weight loss. That’s a little over 1% weight loss, or 1 pound for every 100 pounds of body weight, every 10 days. However, participants of alternate day water fast studies generally report considerable hunger. This is perhaps why most intermittent fasting studies in humans have used modified fasting protocols that involve eating up to 500 calories or roughly a quarter of one’s energy requirements on fasting days.

How much weight you lose with intermittent fasting will depend on where you start, what your daily energy requirements are, what you eat and when. You’ll typically lose as much weight practicing intermittent fasting as with a continuous calorie restriction diet that limits your energy intake to 80% of your daily needs. IF schedules that more naturally restrict calories through longer or more often fasting, such as alternate day fasting, will promote more rapid weight loss than time-restricted eating. However, healthier food choices and greater calorie restriction in conjunction with any IF schedule can help you accelerate weight loss.

7 Tips for Weight Loss with Intermittent Fasting

1. Increase your fiber intake for gut health and satiety between meals.

2. Increase your lean protein intake if needed to improve satiety and muscle mass. One exploratory study found that individuals who successfully lost weight during a randomized controlled trial of 12 months of alternate day fasting report greater protein intake, increased fullness and decreased hunger than individuals who didn’t lose weight.

3. Stick to your fast-day calorie goals.

4. Avoid energy-dense meals and snacks on “feast” days.

5. Eat early in the day

6. Eat in a narrow window on calorie restriction days. For example, if you follow a modified alternate day fasting protocol where you eat up to 500 calories on fasting days, eating all of those calories in one meal may give you the added metabolic benefits of time-restricted eating.

7. Eliminate added sugars. While both low-fat and low-carb diets can lead to significant weight loss, consuming added sugars is particularly strongly linked to insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction. In addition to weight gain, added sugar intake is associated with higher blood pressure, inflammation and fatty liver disease. Added sugars cater to particularly energy-hungry but metabolically inefficient cells, including senescent cells, cancerous cells and even quickly proliferating pathogenic bacteria in the gut.

Stoking the Fire for Long-Term Health

Weight loss is a top priority health goal for many of us. While intermittent fasting or nutrient restriction is often an effective way of achieving weight loss, there are other lifestyle factors that are key to maintaining your metabolic health long-term. These include things like exercise, adequate sleep and stress management.

You can help your body accelerate and maintain weight loss and your broader health with the following lifestyle interventions that complement fasting.

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

2. Exercise. While exercise is often not in and of itself a sufficient intervention for achieving weight loss, it health impacts go far beyond weight. Physical activity and structured exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Exercise preserves your bone strength and cognitive function as you age. It also makes your body and brain better able to handle stress with adaptation responses such as increased production of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory factors. You can effectively improve your heart health and prevent chronic diseases including obesity with 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. National recommendations for physical activity also include two days per week muscle-strengthening activity.

3. Maintain a balanced diet.

4. Avoid added sugars. and other simple carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, etc.)

5. Practice mindful or intuitive eating. Learn more at

You’ve probably heard of intermittent fasting, the diet plan where you don’t eat for periods of time. It sounds like torture to most, but a lot of people have experienced weight-loss success thanks to this method.

There are a few ways to try it, one of the most popular is the 16:8 regimen: 16 hours of fasting with an 8-hour period where you can eat. Intermittent fasting, or “IF,” has been linked to multiple health benefits, including reduced inflammation in the brain and reduced blood pressure. Though experts warn that it could encourage binge eating and extreme dieting.

So what is like to actually try it? TODAY asked two NBC Universal employees to document their journeys on intermittent fasting for a whole month.

2 co-workers try intermittent fasting for a month – see the results

Nov. 8, 201805:40

David Torchiano was interested to see if intermittent fasting would help him reduce his cholesterol levels, while Marnee Muskal was looking to manage her weight.

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What a nutritionist taught them

Before they began, they consulted New York City-based registered dietitian Keri Glassman, who had a few important notes to share:

  1. Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Some don’t respond well to being very hungry and might indulge their cravings when they finally can eat, thinking that the fasting makes up for it. So it’s important to recognize your habits before and/or during the process.
  2. During your time of eating, choose healthy foods. “Loads of vegetables, healthy fats, high-quality lean protein and then maybe one or two high-quality, high-fiber, starchy carbohydrates, so something like brown rice or a slice of Ezekiel bread,” she said.
  3. When you’re fasting, you can have water, tea, black coffee or seltzer. Avoid adding milk to your coffee for best results, and try not to drink too much seltzer as that could leave you feeling very bloated.
  4. Drink plenty of water!
  5. What to avoid: Products high in sugar, for example juice. A glass of alcohol every now and then is OK. “Like anything else, the more you put into it, the healthier you are, the better results you’re going to get,” said Glassman, who doesn’t encourage calorie counting.
  6. If you break a day, that’s OK. Just try again tomorrow.

“I’d say the biggest benefit to it, is that it can control your eating in general. When you reduce the amount of hours that you’re eating, you often eat less,” explained Glassman.

This doctor lost 125 pounds by intermittent fasting with the 16:8 method

July 23, 201802:23

What it was like

Both Muskal and Torchiano preferred to eat from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the weekdays and a similar schedule during the weekends. Torchiano started his day with hot water and lemon or black coffee, while Muskal chose to only have water or tea until she could have her coffee with milk, with her first meal.

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Surprisingly, starting off wasn’t as hard as both thought it would be.

“My stomach growled at the beginning, which is embarrassing in meetings. But it sort of went away,” Muskal said.

“The more that I do it, the easier it becomes,” Torchiano said during week two of the challenge.

The hardest part

The weekends were the most difficult time for both of them, mainly because they didn’t have their routines to stick to.

“I have to admit, the weekend was a little bit harder than I thought. I think being around the kitchen and food and not having work to distract my brain from food definitely made it harder for fasting,” Torchiano said, adding that when he traveled for work he also found fasting more challenging.

“I slipped up and actually had a bagel on Sunday morning, but what are you gonna do?” he said. “Back on track today, Monday.”

Muskal had similar difficulties.

Hoda Kotb explains how she’s doing intermittent fasting

March 20, 201802:19

“My only trouble was really on the weekends, when I’m making breakfast for my kids. And my husband likes to eat breakfast, so that’s where it became a problem for me,” she said.

As a result, Muskal found that avoiding the kitchen while her family ate breakfast was easier.

“I felt like I didn’t want to be in the kitchen in the morning. So I sort of lost that time with them,” she admitted.

Muskal’s results

One of the biggest takeaways for Muskal was that her clothes fit better.

“I did notice that, even though I was maintaining my weight, my clothes were fitting me better. And so for that, I think it was successful. (The nutritionist) did say, like, ‘Don’t worry about the number on the scale. Because you will see other benefits,'” Muskal said.

However, she did say that she felt more tired while fasting. Moving forward, she continues to try to limit the hours of the day that she eats, but has incorporated a healthy breakfast like two hard-boiled eggs and coffee with milk, back into her morning routine.

As co-workers, they kept each other honest during a month of intermittent fasting.TODAY

The challenge has made her more conscious of what she eats and has also encouraged her to exercise more. She lost about four pounds over the course of a month.

“I would say that intermittent fasting got me walking more. I get off the subway a stop earlier to walk further to my apartment and to work.”

Torchiano’s results

Torchiano also said his clothes fit better after a month of intermittent fasting. While his cholesterol levels didn’t budge, he said it was likely due to genetics.

“(My doctor) said not to be discouraged about my cholesterol (levels), because fasting has been proven to have other benefits,” he said. “And while this hasn’t impacted, at least in this lab result, my next step is to do some exercise.”

In the process, his wife started doing IF with him. And like Muskal, he is now eating better.

“I feel like I’ve gotten more conscious about what I’m eating,” he said. “I’m less inclined to eat junk food at night after dinner and I have not had a chocolate croissant since I started fasting!”

Exercise and intermittent fasting: Experts weigh in on whether the combination is safe

Intermittent fasting ranks right up there with keto and Whole30 among trendy, often misunderstood, dietary practices. Several of the fitness experts (and influencers, admittedly) that I follow abide by intermittent fasting, and many even claim to work out during their fasting periods. As a non-faster who feels sluggish and hangry without my pre-gym protein bar, I’ve often wondered how people pull off intermittent fasting and exercise — and whether it’s even safe to do so.

Before we dive into that loaded inquiry, some background: Intermittent fasting involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. You can do it in a number of different ways. Under the 16:8 regimen — arguably the most popular — you limit yourself to eating during a roughly eight-hour period and fast for around 16 hours, which can basically look like nixing breakfast and foregoing food after dinner, per Healthline. You can also simply stop eating after a certain hour, or go up to 24 hours without food, for instance, by fasting every other day, or one or two days a week.

Intermittent fasting proponents tout its potential to promote weight loss, as well as prevent diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Several studies have looked at intermittent fasting in animals, although the research on humans is much more limited. But generally speaking, if you’re healthy, it doesn’t pose any major risks, Alex McDonald, a family physician specializing in sports medicine and internal medicine in San Bernardino, California, tells Mic.

For the most part, intermittent fasting is relatively safe, and exercising is one of the best things you can do for both your physical and your mental health. But is it a good idea to combine the two?

As with any intensive diet, though, you might want to consult with your family physician before you start. McDonald doesn’t recommend intermittent fasting if you have diabetes, kidney problems, or certain metabolic syndromes. In a Men’s Health story I wrote recently, experts also advise against the practice if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, younger than 18, underweight, or at risk for developing an eating disorder.

For the most part, then, intermittent fasting is relatively safe, and as McDonald points out, “exercising is one of the best things you can do for both your physical and your mental health.” But is it a good idea to combine the two? According to the experts I spoke to, it depends on which intermittent fasting regimen you’re following, as well as what type of exercise you’re doing.

If you’re like most of the population and work out mainly to lose weight, feel good, or for some other health-related reason, and you adhere an intermittent fasting regimen with a less than 24-hour fasting window, you’ll probably be fine exercising, even during a fasting period, says Katherine Beals, an associate clinical professor of nutrition and integrative physiology at the University of Utah.

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As long you keep it to moderate intensity — say, a brisk walk or a leisurely bike ride, per the American Heart Association — for an hour or less, within roughly four hours of the last time you ate, you won’t deplete the glycogen stores (chains of a form of sugar called glucose found largely in your muscles and liver) that your body breaks down for fuel. The same applies if you follow the 16:8 regimen and work out in the morning before eating, which is what many people do anyway, even if they don’t call it intermittent fasting.

But McDonald advises against prolonged, high-intensity exercise — activities such as sprinting or very heavy weightlifting with few reps and minimal rest, for more than an hour to an hour and a half — during fasting periods. Doing so may use up your low blood glucose reserves and require your body to break down its glycogen stores into glucose, which it probably won’t be able to do fast enough to fuel your workout. The end result of all of this could be an extremely challenging workout and a potentially fatiguing aftermath.

He recommends a relatively low-intensity strength and cardio combination during fasting windows. “The key is to start very slow and gradually build up,” he says. If you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or very weak, he suggests eating something immediately and sticking to exercising only during feeding periods.

On the other hand, if your fasting periods last a full 24 hours (for instance, if you fast every other day), it’s probably best to limit your workouts, even if they’re moderate-intensity, strictly to feeding days, Beals says. For starters, exercising during your fasting days will make you feel miserable. You’ll likely experience symptoms of low blood glucose levels, or hypoglycemia, which can include dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. And since your immune system runs on glucose, you may also be more prone to getting sick.

If you make it a habit to work out during your fasting periods, you risk not only losing muscle mass, but also damaging your vital organs, over time.

What’s especially concerning, though, is that exercising even at a moderate intensity requires some glucose, but if you’ve fasted for 24 hours, you’ve depleted your liver glycogen stores, meaning your body now needs to make glucose — and it’ll use amino acids, the building blocks of protein, to do so. How will your body get those amino acids? By breaking down the proteins that make up your blood, muscle tissues, and vital organs, Beals says. If you make it a habit to work out during your fasting periods, you risk not only losing muscle mass, but also damaging your vital organs, over time.

And if you’re an athlete — that is, training to improve performance, regardless of the sport you’re competing in — “fasting, intermittent or otherwise, is not going to be a good idea,” Beals says, since pairing rigorous athletic training with fasting carries the same risks.

If your fasting periods last for 24 hours and you really want to stay active during fasting days, Beals suggests something mild, like a short walk, or gentle stretching or core work.

I’m good with my current dietary pattern, including my strategy of pounding a protein bar before I hit the gym, but in case I ever do decide to take up intermittent fasting, I’ll know how to do it safely.

How to begin intermittent fasting

Share on PinterestTypically, a person should stick with one fasting method for a month or longer before trying another.

There are four potential methods that a person may try when fasting for health reasons. A person should pick the plan that suits their preferences and which they think they can stick with.

These include:

  • Eat Stop Eat
  • Warrior Diet
  • Leangains
  • Alternate Day Fasting

Typically, a person should stick with one fasting method for a month or longer to see if it works for them before trying a different method. Anyone who has a medical condition should talk to their healthcare provider before beginning any fasting method.

When deciding on a method, a person should remember that they do not need to eat a certain amount or type of food or avoid foods altogether. A person can eat what they want. However, to reach health and weight loss goals, it is a good idea to follow a healthful, high-fiber, vegetable-rich diet during the eating periods.

Binging on unhealthful foods on eating days can hinder health progress. It is also extremely important to drink lots of water or other no-calorie beverages throughout the fast days.

Eat Stop Eat

Brad Pilon developed Eat Stop Eat, which is a fasting method that involves eating nothing for 24 hours twice a week. It does not matter what days a person fasts or even when they begin. The only restriction is fasting must last for 24 hours and on non-consecutive days.

People who do not eat for 24 hours will likely become very hungry. Eat Stop Eat may not be the best method for people who are unfamiliar with fasting to start with.

Warrior Diet

Ori Hofmekler is the creator of the Warrior Diet, which entails eating very little for 20 hours each day. A person fasting in this way consumes all their typical food intake in the remaining 4 hours.

Eating a whole day’s worth of food in such a short time can make a person’s stomach quite uncomfortable. This is the most extreme fasting method, and similarly to Eat Stop Eat, a person new to fasting may not want to start with this method.


Martin Berkhan created Leangains for weightlifters, but it has gained popularity among other people who are interested in fasting. Unlike Eat Stop Eat and the Warrior Diet, fasting for Leangains involves much shorter periods.

For example, males who choose the Leangains method will fast for 16 hours and then eat what they want for the remaining 8 hours of the day. Females fast for 14 hours and eat what they want for the remaining 10 hours of the day.

During the fast, a person must avoid eating any food but can drink as many no-calorie beverages as they like.

Alternate Day Fasting, 5:2 method

Some people fast on alternate days to improve blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight loss. A person on the 5:2 method eats 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days each week.

Some alternate-day fasting regimens add in a third day of fasting each week. For the rest of the week, a person eats only the number of calories they burn during the day. Over time, this creates a calorie deficit that allows the person to lose weight.

Resources on the Eat Stop Eat, Warrior, and Leangains fasting methods are available to purchase online.

Working out, particularly when you do it almost daily, puts a lot of stress on your physical and metabolic systems and to support your workouts and recover properly you need a certain amount of calories strategically eaten throughout the day, Fine explains.

“Ultimately it’s about whether it fits with your lifestyle and your body, it’s very individual,” Poyourow says, adding that he recommends talking to a doctor before starting any type of fasting plan if you have any health concerns.

Halle Berry swears by a combination of keto and intermittent fasting:

So how should you time exercise while intermittent fasting?

Poyourow recommends timing your fast so your workout happens at the end of it. Is it going to be painful to hit the gym after, say, a 16-hour fast? Yes—but you’ll get used to it.

“It will likely take a few weeks for your body to adjust and during that time you should take it easy,” Poyourow says. “But your body can and will adapt after which you should be fine to stick to your regular schedule, even on the days you are fasting.”

The important thing to keep in mind for people who do IF and exercise a lot is that you have to keep drinking water, lots of water, Poyourow says. “You need to drink one-half to one gallon of water per day and if you sweat a lot, consider adding an electrolyte tablet,” he advises.

You might also maximize your weight-loss potential by saving your sweat session for the end of your fast. “Studies have shown that it takes a good 10 to 12 hours to burn up your glycogen stores and switch to mainly burning fat,” he explains. “So working out at the end of your fasting period means you’ll be using more of your stored fat for energy.”

Want To Learn More About Fasting?

Plus, your muscles will be primed by your workout to better absorb the protein and nutrients from your “breaking the fast” meal, he adds.

The key is to listen to your body and learn to recognize what is normal you-can-push-through-it pain from working out and what is unusual for you, he says. If it hurts in a bad way, stop doing it.

I usually hit my workouts in the middle or towards the end of my fasting period, mainly for practical purposes. Between being a mom and working full time, I don’t have the mental bandwidth to worry about timing everything perfectly, but the slight fluctuations in timing make little difference in how I feel or perform.

But listen, if you feel like breaking your fast with a snack before your workout, it’s no big deal, and if it helps you exercise longer and harder then it’s worth it, Poyourow says.

“You have to have enough energy to workout,” he explains. “Is it even worth working out if you’re just dragging through it and feeling miserable?”

When it comes to what to eat, Fine says to skip the processed pre-workout drinks, powders and bars and instead recommends a whole-food snack that combines protein and carbs, like a piece of whole grain toast with almond butter.

Can you build muscle while intermittent fasting?

As long as you’re getting enough protein and nutrients as part of a healthy, balanced diet overall, then your muscles will be just fine, Poyourow says. I’m a girl who lifts and likes to lift heavy so the thought that IF could be stunting my muscle growth was scary to me.

So over the past year I decided to start tracking my body fat percentage and lean muscle mass—and I’ve actually dropped three percent body fat and put on nearly four pounds of muscle. I’m just a study of one but for me, my muscles do just fine on IF.

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For all the people who don’t believe me when I say I sweat like a dude… 🤣💦 They say everyone has a talent! (And no I’m not lactating. Those marks are from where my soaking wet braid kept smacking me 😅)

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What should you eat to break your fast after a workout?

“Because you’re eating fewer meals, you need to make every meal count nutrition-wise,” Poyourow says. This means sticking to whole, unprocessed foods, including meats, vegetables, and fruits. (He’s personally a big fan of the Mediterranean style of eating.) “Why undo all your hard work in the gym by eating garbage?” he adds.

“For recovery and muscle growth, it’s important to get a mix of protein and carbs within an hour of finishing your workout,” Fine explains. She recommends making a smoothie with whole fruit, spinach, yogurt, and nut butter.

She adds that it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough calories to fuel your body and your workouts. How much will depend on a lot of factors, she recommends speaking to a sports dietitian to figure out your body’s requirements.

Will exercising while intermittent fasting help you lose more weight?

Weight loss is the main reason most people try IF, and you might think that adding daily workouts could help you lose weight faster. This type of thinking can backfire, though.

Extra workouts increase your hunger overall, which can make fasting feel harder. “Weight loss is all about creating a calorie deficit and pretty much any type of diet will do that if you stick to it,” Poyourow explains. “You can definitely overeat during your eating window and gain weight, even if you’re working out.”

For Even More On Fasting…

I can tell you from first hand experience it’s plenty easy to eat all my daily calories (and even more, if I’m not careful) in just a couple of meals. This isn’t a problem for me as weight loss is not my goal; I’m already at a healthy weight.

But if weight loss is your goal, you’ll still need to track what you eat and use portion control, he says. In addition, you might want to rethink the number and intensity of your workouts. Even with IF, you should aim for slow and steady weight loss for it to be sustainable, he says.

If every workout feels miserable, you should stop intermittent fasting.

It takes a few weeks for your body to adjust to any new routine so you can’t make a judgement until you’ve given it at least a couple of weeks, Poyourow says. However, intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. So how do you know if it’s doing more harm than good?

If you’re experiencing mental fog, obsessive thoughts about food or weight, weakness, exhaustion, feelings of depression or burnout, insomnia, stress injuries, extreme muscle soreness and/or very slow recovery after your workouts, then it’s time to call it quits, Fine says. “Intermittent fasting, particularly if you’re under-eating, can lead to an increased risk of injury, lowered bone density, and mental illness,” she cautions.

“There are lots of ways to achieve your health goals and if intermittent fasting isn’t helping you reach them then move on and try something else,” Poyourow says. “It’s all about figuring out what works for you and that may not be the same thing that works for someone else.”


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Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss (The Ultimate Weight Loss Hack)

Intermittent fasting is a type of diet that’s rapidly growing in popularity and becoming the way to lose weight. Last month alone there were over 246,000 searches for the phrase ‘intermittent fasting’ on Google alone. This search volume shows how popular it’s become.

Scientists and nutrition experts like it too and are saying it’s the way of the future for losing and keeping weight off and new books and articles on the topic are being published daily including best selling books like ‘Eat Stop Eat’ and ‘The 8 Hour Diet’. Intermittent fasting is also popular with followers of the Paleo diet since our ancestors appear to have eaten this way for thousands of years.

I’ve been following this type of diet myself for 2 years. Doing so helped me lose and keep off 70 pounds without ever having to count calories, carbohydrates, or eat 6-7 meals a day.

This article teaches you all about intermittent fasting weight loss and details why it is the greatest weight loss diet hack around. After reading it you will be able to implement into your diet and experience the benefits it offers almost immediately.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

As you may have figured from its name, intermittent fasting is a diet plan where you fast for a set period of time during the day. This is usually between 16-20 consecutive hours. You eat during the other 4-8 hours of the day.

While fasting you can eat and drink low calorie or calorie-free foods. Think coffee, tea, water, and vegetables.

The more time you spend fasting every day, the better your results. You can do these fasts as often as you like. Again, the more often you do so, the better.

Getting Started With Intermittent Fasting

Following this diet plan is super simple. All you have to do is is choose a period of time during the day that you will fast. This should be between 16-20 hours. The longer you fast each day, the better. Don’t worry about counting calories or carbohydrates. Just focus on going about your day until it’s time to eat.


It’s best to choose a set period of time to conduct your fast. I like to fast from 8 o’clock at night to 4 the following afternoon. I’ll then have my first meal of the day and a snack or two a few hours later. Once 8 o’clock rolls around, it’s back to fasting.

My experience with intermittent fasting finds that’s it’s best to start with a 16 hour fast (i.e. 8PM one evening to 12PM the next day) for the first 1-2 weeks. Once you are comfortable with this schedule, you can increase the amount of time you spend fasting. Do this by adding 30 minutes to each fast until you get to where you are fasting for 20 hours at a time.

You don’t have to fast every day in the beginning either. You may be more comfortable breaking in slowly with 2-3 fasts a week at first. Add additional days of intermittent fasting as you become more comfortable with this style of eating.

Tips To Make Intermittent Fasting Easier

1. During your fast you’ll want to drink plenty of water.

Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice into your water to help get rid of any cravings you experience. You can also drink coffee, tea, or other calorie free beverages. After a few weeks you will find that intermittent fasting keeps you from craving sugar entirely.

2. If you can handle it, take in a little caffeine in the morning and early afternoon.

The caffeine in coffee and tea may actually make intermittent fasting a little easier to fast since it’s good for curbing your appetite. Be careful not to overindulge as this may lead to you feeling a little too wired. I also recommend these natural energy boosting tips to keep you going during the day.

3. Avoid artificially flavored drinks.

One type of calorie free drink that should be avoided are diet sodas and other beverages that use artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet & Low. Studies show that the can actually stimulate your appetite like a drink that contains sugar and cause you to overeat.

4. Don’t gorge at your first meal.

The first meal after your fast should be the amount of food you typically eat. Binging will only make you feel awful and diminish the benefits you get from the fast.

5. Minimize foods rich in processed carbohydrates and sugars.

While intermittent fasting does make it possible to eat a little looser than normal, you should still eat as little bread, pasta, rice, etc. as possible.


Focus instead on eating protein from beef, fish, or pork, carbohydrates from vegetables, fruit, and sweet potatoes, and healthy fats from foods like almonds, avocados, fish, and olive oil.

How Intermittent Fasting Will Help You Lose Weight

Eating this way has many benefits with regard to weight loss. The first is that when you’re fasting, your body will be forced to use its stored body fat for energy. Burning calories this way, instead of from the food you’re eating throughout the day, will help you not only lose weight but weight from any excess body fat you’re carrying. This means that you won’t just be thinner but will also look better and be much healthier than if you lose weight the old-fashioned way.

Intermittent fasting is that it can help optimize the release of the key fat burning hormones in your body. The is especially true for the two most important hormones: human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin.

Human growth hormone plays a key role in turning on your bodies fat burning furnace so it gets the calories you need to work and play from stored body fat. Studies show that fasting can increase your body’s production of growth hormone by 1,300% in women and 2,000% in men!

The influence intermittent fasting has on insulin is just as impressive and possibly more important. Keeping your insulin levels low and steady is key to losing excess fat and keeping it off. Diets that are rich in processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice) and simple sugars (candy, cookies, and soda) have the opposite effect. They cause your insulin levels to rapidly spike and then crash every time you eat one of these foods. The net result of this phenomenon is that your body will store more of what you eat as excess body fat instead of burning it off as energy.

Chronically elevating your insulin levels like this can also lead to the development of type II diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health problems. Intermittent fasting easily solves this problem.

Following an intermittent fasting style of diet for 15 days is shown in clinical studies to help ‘balance’ your insulin levels. This will help your body stay in a calorie and fat burning state. You’ll also find that it gives you more energy throughout the day.

Another great weight loss benefit of intermittent fasting is that hunger pangs and cravings that may normally plague you throughout the day will be reduced, if not altogether eliminated. This is probably due to its ability to balance your insulin and blood sugar levels and, in turn help correct other hormonal imbalances.


Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss FAQs

Now that you know what intermittent fasting is and how to get started, it’s time to answer your other questions.

Below are answers to the questions frequently asked about intermittent fasting. These answers should help you too and make getting started a lot easier.

How Much Weight Will I Lose?

The amount of weight you lose with fasting is determined by how often and long your fasts are, what you eat afterward, and other factors. Fasting for 16-20 hours a day can help you safely lose 2-3 pounds of fat every week.

While losing this much weight every week is great, it’s how it makes it happen that’s really cool. Losing weight with intermittent fasting means that you will never have to count calories or plan and prepare several meals a day.

Can I Work Out While Fasting?

Yes, you can. In fact, doing the right type of workout while fasting will help you lose weight faster and even build muscle.

The best workouts to do while fasting for weight loss are 3-4 intense strength training workouts weekly. This means anything from standard strength training to kettlebell or body weight workouts.

Focus on doing 3-4 total body exercises per workout with as little rest as possible between sets. Doing this will help you burn more calories during and after your workout. You’ll build muscle too which will help you look and feel better as the weight comes off.

One workout that I’ve found to be very effective for weight loss when combined with intermittent fasting is the 10 Minute Workout plan which can be done at home or the gym.


Won’t I Lose Muscle When I Fast?

I wouldn’t sweat this at all. First of all, you aren’t fasting long enough for your body to start breaking down muscle for energy. You have perhaps hundreds of thousands of calories from your stored body fat to use before that will begin to happen. Studies actually show that even after fasting for 3 days, no muscle is lost.

Is Fasting Safe?

As long as you are healthy, not pregnant, and aren’t taking medications, fasting is safe. Like all diets you should discuss it with your doctor before beginning an intermittent fasting style of dieting.

I also feel that it may not be smart to follow this type of diet when you’re especially stressed. Since this diet can be a little stress-inducing at first, doing so when your ability to be relatively stress-free and rested probably isn’t a good idea.

Are There Any Supplements I Can Take To Make Fasting Easier?

As with any other weight loss plan, it’s a good idea to take a few nutritional supplements to ensure that your daily requirements are met. This includes a once or twice daily multi-vitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D.

I’ve also found taking 10 grams of branch chain amino acids before and after my workouts really helps too. They’re great for giving you more energy during your workout and really decreasing post-workout muscle soreness.

You can also use a BCAA supplement during your fast to help reduce the risk of crashing or suffering from a bad mood during the day.


Now you know what intermittent fasting is and how it can help you lose weight quickly, safely, and pretty much effortlessly.

Give it a try yourself and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via

Alternate day fasting may help aid weight loss

“Extreme ‘caveman’ diet of fasting every other day may help overweight patients lose nearly 8lbs in just four weeks,” reports the Mail Online.

The website reports on a new study that investigated the effects of intermittent fasting on weight, metabolism and a number of general health markers, such as cholesterol levels.

Researchers recruited 60 healthy adults aged 35 to 65, who were not obese, to either continue their normal diet or eat every other day.

Those who fasted every other day could consume only water and unsweetened black or green tea or coffee on fasting days, but could eat what they wanted on other days.

The study found volunteers lost weight, reduced their body fat and lowered their blood pressure and heart rate.

Bone density was slightly lower at the end of the study, but the cells of the immune system were not affected. People’s metabolisms did not change.

The study suggests intermittent fasting may be a useful treatment for people needing to lose weight.

But people in this study were all healthy and with a body mass index (BMI) that ranged from healthy to overweight, so it’s unclear how well intermittent fasting would work in obese people.

Intermittent fasting has been a popular diet plan since the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally for 5 days and fast for 2, hit the headlines.

But intermittent fasting is not safe or suitable for all people, such as those with long-term health conditions or a history of eating disorders.

And the researchers involved in this study made the point of warning that alternate day fasting should not be tried without medical advice. Speak to a GP for advice before starting.

Find out more about tried-and-tested ways to lose weight that are suitable for everyone

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by a large group of researchers from institutions including the University of Graz and Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft in Austria, the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, INSERM in France and the University of Freiburg in Germany.

It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Metabolism on an open access basis and the study is available to read for free online.

The Sun reported: “Experts have claimed that alternate day fasting, also known as the ‘caveman diet’ is 1 of the best and ‘healthiest’ ways to lose weight quickly”.

It’s not clear which particular group of experts the newspaper is referring to as no such claim is made in the study.

The Sun also claimed that the diet allowed people to “gorge on whatever tasty food they wanted” when not fasting, but the study’s authors said “a wholesome and balanced diet is likely crucial” to benefit from the practice.

Several media reports said people were aged 48 to 52, but this represented the average ages in the group, not the full range of ages.

What kind of research was this?

The researchers carried out a randomised controlled trial (RCT), which is the best way to see the effects of an intervention.

They also compared a group of people who said they had followed alternate day fasting for at least 6 months with a healthy control group.

They described this as a cohort study, although it was not a representative cohort of the population, but a self-selecting group.

What did the research involve?

Researchers recruited 60 volunteers who:

  • were aged 35 to 65
  • had a BMI of 22 to 30 (a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy)
  • were a stable weight
  • had blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure at recommended levels
  • had no history of diabetes, heart disease or stroke, inflammatory disorder or cancer
  • had not used tobacco or recreational drugs within 5 years
  • drank no more than 15 alcoholic drinks a week
  • did not take hormonal medicine or antidepressants, or regular drugs for blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol
  • were not vegetarian or vegan
  • were not pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy

They randomly assigned half to continue their normal diet (control) and half to alternate day fasting for 4 weeks.

People in the alternate day fasting group were asked to eat and drink normally during only 12 in every 48 hours.

During fasting periods, they could drink only water and unsweetened black or green tea or coffee.

Everyone in the study filled in food frequency questionnaires to record what they ate each day.

Before the start of the study and again at the end, the researchers recorded a range of body measures, including:

  • BMI
  • body fat and lean mass composition
  • bone mineral density
  • blood glucose and lipids
  • circulating immune cells
  • markers of inflammation
  • blood pressure
  • resting energy expenditure
  • activity levels

A second group of volunteers was also recruited for investigation. These people all reported having followed the alternate day fasting regime for at least 6 months.

They were also measured, and their measurements were compared with those of the 60 volunteers at the start of the RCT.

What were the basic results?

Of the 30 people assigned to ADF, 2 people dropped out during the study and 1 dropped out of the control group.

People in both groups reduced their calorie intake and lost weight during the 4-week study:

  • the control group ate about 839 calories a week less on average
  • the alternate day fasting group ate about 4,271 calories a week less on average, a reduction of 37.4%
  • the control group lost an average 0.19kg
  • the alternate day fasting group lost an average 3.5kg

This weight loss translated to about a 1.2 point difference in BMI for the alternate day fasting group.

Bone mineral density (BMD) changed slightly, but not in a way that was statistically significant compared with the control group:

  • BMD at the spine changed from 1.25g/cm to 1.26g/cm in the control group
  • BMD at the spine changed from 1.23g/cm to 1.22g/cm in the alternate day fasting group

The alternate day fasting group lost more total fat mass, 2.1kg compared with 0.15kg, especially from the trunk region.

Their systolic blood pressure dropped from an average 121mm/Hg to 115mm/Hg, and their heart rate from 63 beats per minute to 60 beats per minute.

There was no change in cholesterol measures.

The changes seen in the alternate day fasting group were the equivalent of a 1.4% reduction in risk on the Framingham Risk Score, which gives the percentage risk that someone will have a cardiovascular event (such as heart attack or stroke) in the next 10 years.

Markers of immune function were not affected. People in the alternate day fasting group were not less active than the control group and their metabolic rate did not slow.

The second group, which had been using alternate day fasting for 6 months or more, showed no adverse effects and had comparable calorie intake, bone mass density, activity levels and immune cells to the control group.

They also had lower cholesterol levels and although their blood iron levels were lower, they were not deficient in iron.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers said: “Four weeks of strict alternate day fasting improved markers of general health in healthy middle-aged humans while causing a 37% calorie reduction on average. No adverse effects occurred even after more than 6 months.”

But they added: “Even healthy adults should not perform ADF without consultation by clinicians to rule out adverse effects due to critical medical conditions.

“Importantly, although not directly assessed in this study, a wholesome and balanced diet is likely crucial to foster the beneficial effects caused by ADF.

“Thus, appreciable clinical support and a generally healthy lifestyle should be considered before starting ADF.”

This study adds interesting new information to evidence about the possible effects of intermittent fasting on humans.

But the study has limitations. It was relatively small (30 people each in the alternate day fasting and control group) and lasted only 4 weeks.

People in the study were all healthy and with a BMI that ranged from healthy to overweight.

We do not know what people in the study actually ate on the days when they were eating.

The volunteers who took part in the study were likely to be already interested in health, diet and alternate day fasting.

The study also was not blinded. Everyone knew whether they were in the control group or alternate day fasting group, for obvious reasons.

And we do not know the long-term effects, such as whether people put the weight back on that they’d lost during the study.

The group of long-term alternate day fasting users were self-selecting and we do not know anything about them before they started using alternate day fasting, so the information about them is of little use for assessing long-term effectiveness or safety of this practice.

The researchers said alternate day fasting may be easier to stick to than trying to restrict calories all the time for people wanting to lose weight.

But other studies have shown that people do feel hungry during fasting periods.

Many people put weight back on after losing it on a diet, and there’s no reason to think that alternate day fasting would be any different.

It’s really important not to use an extreme diet if you have a long-term illness, or if you have an eating disorder or a previous history of eating disorders.

Find out more about achieving a healthy weight

Analysis by Bazian
Edited by NHS Website

Links to the headlines

Lose weight fast with the ‘alternate day fasting diet’ – and eat what you want half the time

The Sun, 28 August 2019

Extreme ‘caveman’ diet of fasting every other day may help overweight patients lose nearly 8lbs in just FOUR WEEKS, scientists claim

Mail Online, 27 August 2019

Fasting every other day boosts healthy weight loss as it mimics hunter-gatherer ‘caveman’ routine

The Daily Telegraph, 27 August 2019

Alternate day fasting diet could be secret to longer life

The Times (subscription required), 28 August 2019

Links to the science

Stekovic S, Hofer SJ, Tripolt N, et al.

Alternate Day Fasting Improves Physiological and Molecular Markers of Aging in Healthy, Non-obese Humans

Cell Metabolism. Published online 27 August 2019

Dinner in the afternoon may be key to a slimmer body.

A form of intermittent fasting that requires people to eat all of their meals earlier in the day appears to be a “powerful strategy” for reducing hunger and losing weight, a new study has confirmed.

It does so by curbing appetite rather than burning more calories, researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Obesity. A longer fasting period also prompted obese people to dip into their fat reserves, leading them to burn more fat, said Courtney Peterson, the lead author and an assistant professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“When we’re trying to design weight-loss programs for people, if we can find strategies that either make it easier for people to cut more calories or to burn more fat, that’s a huge win,” Peterson told TODAY.

“If we can find ways to lower that hunger, people are more likely to be more successful with weight loss and keeping it off.”

Nov. 8, 201805:40

Same calories, different eating windows

The study compared how people’s bodies responded to eating three meals a day, but on two different eating schedules:

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  • Early time-restricted feeding — the intermittent fasting strategy — which only allowed participants to eat during a six-hour window between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Typical American mealtimes, which allowed eating during a 12-hour window from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Eleven overweight and obese adults were randomly assigned to follow one of the schedules for four days, then the other for the same amount of time. They ate the same number of calories per day — enough to maintain their weight — on both plans.

After each regimen, the participants spent a day in a respiratory chamber that measured how many calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein they were burning. They also rated how hungry or full they felt every three hours, while blood tests measured their levels of hunger and satiety hormones.

Courtesy The University of Alabama at Birmingham

It turned out those who were fasting for 18 hours a day and finished eating by 2 p.m. had lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and higher levels of the satiety hormone peptide YY. Early time-restricted feeding also tended to lower people’s desire to eat and boosted their fullness across the day, though it didn’t affect how many calories they burned.

In another benefit, the fasting regimen appeared to boost metabolic flexibility, or the body’s ability to switch between burning carbs and burning fat for fuel. That’s an important finding because obese people often have trouble burning fat, Peterson said.

Previous research has found the 16:8 diet, where people fast for 16 hours a day, but are free to eat whatever they want in the other eight hours, helped obese individuals lose weight and lower their blood pressure.

“This study helps provide more information about how patterns of eating, and not just what you eat, may be important for achieving a healthy weight,” said Hollie Raynor, professor of nutrition at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in a statement. She was not involved in the research.

The authors can’t for certain say whether the appetite-lowering effects are coming from timing meals to the body’s internal clock — which provides peak blood sugar control and energy to digest food in the morning — or the extended fasting, Peterson said. Her best guess was that they were primarily produced by the extended fasting.

Peterson herself follows a similar eating schedule: “I feel a little blissed out when I do it. I can’t explain why,” she said.

Tips for trying it yourself:

People who are “hyper-motivated” can try a six-hour eating schedule that ends at 2 p.m., but researchers believe an eight-10 hour eating window that ends between 4-7 p.m. is a much more realistic target, Peterson noted.

When she asked people how they tolerated the 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. plan, they told her the fasting period wasn’t that bad, but the difficult part was stuffing all of the day’s calories into six hours. “They felt so full — they said it felt like eating Thanksgiving dinner every day,” Peterson said.

Women in particular might need to do a slightly shorter fasting period because they start to burn through fat a little faster than men, so it may be a bit more difficult for women to follow a super-long fast, Peterson added.

It takes your body and hunger patterns about two weeks to adapt to new schedule of eating. “In the beginning, it may be a little bit more challenging… but after you get over that hurdle, it should be easier,” she noted.

Earlier this week, I posted a brief guide on getting started with intermittent fasting. You can read it here.

Intermittent fasting is a great tool for getting strong and lean without changing your diet. But it can also seem confusing or extreme if you’re not familiar with it. In fact, my guide seemed to prompt quite a few questions, many of which I responded to over email.

Because you may be wondering many of the same things, I figured I should write about them here as well as share some of the important lessons I’ve learned from practicing intermittent fasting for over one year.

Free Bonus: I created an Intermittent Fasting Quick Start Guide with a summary of the benefits of intermittent fasting and 3 fasting schedules you can use depending on your goals. It’s a quick 5 page PDF you can save and reference later as you try this yourself. .

12 Lessons Learned from 1 Year of Intermittent Fasting

1. The biggest barrier is your own mind.

Implementing this diet is pretty simple, you just don’t eat when you wake up. Then you eat and lunch and go about your day. At least, that’s how I do it.

But there is a mental barrier to get over. “If I don’t eat will I not be able to think? Will I faint? Will I feel sick? What will it be like?” These are all thoughts that went through my mind before I started.

What ended up happening? Nothing. Life went on just fine.

Thinking you need to eat every 3 hours or six meals a day or always have breakfast or whatever it is that you’re convinced you have to do to survive … is all mental. You believe it because you were told it, not because you actually tried it.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed that separates successful people from unsuccessful ones in life it’s not just the ability to think differently, but the ability to act differently as well.

2. Losing weight is easy.

When you eat less frequently you tend to eat less overall. As a result, most people who try intermittent fasting end up cutting weight. You might plan big meals, but consistently eating them is difficult in practice.

For this reason, I think intermittent fasting is a great option for people who are looking to lose weight because it offers a simple way to cut down on the total number of calories you eat without changing your diet. Even if you tell people that they can eat two large meals at lunch and dinner, they typically end up eating fewer calories than they would at 3 or 4 normal meals.

Most people lose weight while intermittent fasting because when they cut out meals, they don’t make up for it with bigger meal sizes.

3. Building muscle is quite possible (if that’s what you want).

I have managed to gain weight while intermittent fasting (I’ve added about 12 pounds of lean body mass and cut 5 pounds of fat over the last year), but only because I have focused on eating a lot during my feeding period.

As I mentioned above, the natural tendency is to lose weight on intermittent fasting because it’s easy to eat less when you cut a meal out of your day. However, at the end of the day eating 2,000 calories is eating 2,000 calories whether it comes during a 16–hour span or an 8–hour span. It just takes more effort to make sure you eat it all within 8 hours.

It’s totally reasonable to build muscle as long as you eat enough.

4. My best work is usually done when I’m deep into my fast.

I’m most productive during the first 3 hours of my morning, which is about 12 to 15 hours into my daily fast. This is the exact opposite of what I expected when I started out. I assumed that if I didn’t eat for hours, then I wouldn’t have any energy to think. The reality is just the opposite.

I have a lot of mental clarity in the morning when I fast. I can’t say for certain if this is due to the fasting or the fact that I’m just refreshed when I wake up, but one thing is clear: fasting is not hindering my ability to get things done in the morning. In fact, I’m almost always more productive in the morning when I’m fasted than in the afternoon when I’m fed.

5. For best results, cycle what you eat.

Intermittent fasting works, but I didn’t start cutting fat at a significant rate until I added in calorie cycling and carb cycling to my diet. Here’s how it works…

I cycle calories by eating a lot on the days that I workout and less on the days that I rest. This means I have a calorie surplus on the days I train and a calorie deficit on the days that I rest. The idea behind this is that you can build muscle on the days you train and burn fat on the days you rest. And by the end of the week, you should have done both.

Additionally, I cycle carbs by eating a lot of carbohydrates on the days that I train and few carbohydrates on the days that I rest. This is done to stimulate fat loss. I eat high protein all the time and moderate to low fat on most days. Cycling carbohydrates has also led to additional fat loss.

For me, this is when the intermittent fasting seemed to pay off the most — when I coupled it with calorie cycling and carb cycling.

6. Like most things, you should take a long–term view of eating.

Too often we think about our diet in super short timeframes.

It’s better to think about what we eat over the course of a week than over the course of a day (or worse, a few hours). For example, whether or not you have a protein shake within 30 minutes of working out, is largely a non–issue if you’re getting a meal of quality protein within 24 hours of working out.

One reason intermittent fasting works is because the super short timeframes that we are pitched by food companies and supplement companies are largely a myth. Let’s say you eat 3 quality meals per day. That’s 21 meals per week. Over the course of a week, do you think your body cares if the meals are eaten from 8am to 8pm (the normal eating schedule) or 1pm to 8pm (an intermittent fasting schedule)?

How about if we stretch it out over the course of a month? Wouldn’t it make sense that if you ate 80 quality meals every month (about 3 per day) that your body would make the most of those meals whether you ate them in an 8–hour block or a 12–hour block on each individual day?

When you take a slightly longer view, you start to realize that the time difference between eating from 8am to 8pm versus eating from 1pm to 8pm isn’t that large over the course of a week or a month.

7. It’s strange, but when I’m fasting I want food less.

Now that I’ve started fasting, I want food less. I’m not addicted to it. I’m not a victim to my diet. I eat when I want because I want to, not because my body tells me I have to.

This is a marked change from my previous eating schedule and I think the additional power and flexibility I have over my diet now is a benefit.

8. Losing fat and gaining muscle can both be done, just not together.

If you’re looking to lose fat and build muscle mass, then the combination of intermittent fasting, calorie cycling, and carb cycling that I have mentioned here is one of the best solutions you’ll find.

You see, it’s basically impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. You need to have a net calorie deficit.

To build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn. You need to have a net calorie surplus.

It should be fairly obvious that you can’t have a net surplus and a net deficit at the same time. For example, you can either eat more than 2,000 calories or you can eat less than 2,000 calories … but you can’t do both at the same time. This is why it’s basically impossible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.

However, if we get away from the small timeframes and start thinking about our diet over the course of a week or a month, then we start to have more options. For example, let’s say that you workout 3 days per week. You could organize your eating routine to have a calorie surplus on the days you train (i.e. gain muscle) and then a calorie deficit on the days you rest (i.e. lose fat). That way, by the end of the week, it’s possible for you to have spent 3 days gaining muscle and 4 days losing fat.

9. When fasting, I have made more gains by training less.

I’ve recently began testing a new hypothesis for strength training, which I call “Do The Most Important Thing First.”

It’s as simple as it sounds. I pick one goal for the workout and do the most important exercise first. Everything else is secondary. For example, right now I’m working out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I do two sessions each day. Upper body in the morning. Lower body in the evening. But I’m only doing one exercise each time (pushups in the morning) and squat or deadlift in the evening. If I feel like it, I’ll finish my evening workout with kettlebell work or bodyweight stuff (handstands, front levers, and so on).

The results have been very good. I’ve seen improvement each and every week over the last three months. It’s worked so well that I’m starting to think that it has very little to do with fasting, but instead is just a better way of training. I’ll write more about this in the future, but I wanted to note it here because when I compare it to the previous way I trained while fasting (snatch and clean and jerk three days per week, plus squat or deadlift), I seem to be making more progress.

10. As long as you stay under 50 calories, you’ll remain in the fasted state.

A lot of people like to start their day with a cup of coffee or a glass of orange juice. Maybe you’re one of them. I have a glass of water. Well you don’t have to dump your morning routine if you want to give fasting a try.

The general rule of thumb is that if you stay under 50 calories, then you’ll remain in the fasted state. I’m not sure where this number came from, but I’ve seen it dished around by enough reputable people that I’m going to go with it for now. Following the opinion of the majority is typically a lazy move, but in this case I think you’ll be alright if you want to have a cup of coffee in the morning.

11. Prepare to drink a lot of water.

I drank a lot of water before I began intermittent fasting, but now I drink an incredible amount. I’m usually over 8 glasses for the day by the time I get done with lunch.

You mileage may vary, but even if you don’t drink as much water as I do, I recommend having it at the ready.

12. The best diet for you is the one that works for you.

Everyone wants to be handed the ultimate diet plan. We all want the answers on one sheet of paper. “Here. Just do this and you’ll be set.”

This is why diet books sell so well. A lot of people are willing to pay for a quick fix, a diet in a box, or the nutritional solution to long life.

Here’s my problem with marketers telling everyone that their diet is the best: it’s like telling the whole world to wear medium sized shirts and then wondering why they don’t fit a lot of people.

In most ways, your body is the same as everyone else’s. But in some very important ways, it’s also different than everyone else’s. To find the diet that works best for you, you need to experiment and see what your body responds to.

This is why I enjoy intermittent fasting. You can play with your eating schedule very easily. Choose one that fits your lifestyle and that your body responds to. Once you figure out when you should be eating, then you can move on to the harder part: what you should be eating.

As always, your mileage will vary, but the most important thing is that you’re covering ground and moving forward.

Free Bonus: I created an Intermittent Fasting Quick Start Guide with a summary of the benefits of intermittent fasting and 3 fasting schedules you can use depending on your goals. It’s a quick 5 page PDF you can save and reference later as you try this yourself. .

Will intermittent fasting help me lose weight, lower blood pressure and control blood sugar? | Miami Herald

In an early effort to explore the benefits of daily fasting in humans, researchers have found that people who are at high risk of developing diabetes improved their health in myriad ways when they ate all of their meals over a span of just over 10 hours, then fasted for the remainder of their 24-hour day.The regimen, called “time-restricted eating,” is a variant of “intermittent fasting” a practice growing in popularity. Dreamstime TNS

Is intermittent fasting a fleeting fad or a future food fashion?

A recent review article in The New England Journal of Medicine provides a solid review of where the science is. Still a lot to be examined, but initial findings are intriguing.

The reviewed research shows that most body systems respond to some form of fasting. Body organs are stressed by fasting. They overcome the challenge of fasting and return to balance.

Repeated fasting leads to increased resistance to stress. In many of these studies, this led to increased antioxidant defenses, DNA repair and reduced inflammation. Benefits that will probably sound more familiar are better regulation of blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate.

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In some studies, subjects lost weight either by lower calories or intermittent fasting. Even though all the subjects lost weight, there were greater metabolic changes in the fasting group.

There is also promising research on intermittent fasting and cancer, diabetes and neurological disorders.

There are different methods of intermittent fasting. Either restricting eating to a period of between 6-10 hours a day or eating very low calories two days a week. But let’s be honest. Either approach is challenging.

In one of the reported studies, 40% of subjects dropped out. We are very different than our caveman ancestors who hunted and foraged for food. In our society, we trip over food every time we leave the house.

Intermittent fasting requires even more attention to eating nutrient-rich foods. Fewer calories eaten means every bite should be packed with vitamins and minerals. So my conclusion is that intermittent fasting is an intriguing area that will continue to be researched.

If someone is motivated to try this approach, either because they have a health condition or want to see how they will feel, I would encourage them to work with a registered dietitian to ensure nutritional adequacy and the easiest entry into this new style of eating.

Sheah Rarback MS, RDN is in private practice in Miami

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