Intermittent fasting and weight loss

Surely you know someone who practices intermittent fasting . Currently there is a wide variety of people who practice it: people who want to lose weight, athletes, people with digestive problems or people who have simply adopted it as a habit. 
You have probably heard both positive and negative opinions and are wondering “ does intermittent fasting have any benefits? “, “should I do it?”. And what most people wonder: does intermittent fasting help you lose weight? If you wonder if this type of diet has any benefits or is it just a fad that wants to sell books, this article interests you.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is, as its name indicates, not eating for a certain number of hours. Yes, you can hydrate yourself with water, infusions or teas that do not have sugar or sweeteners. After these hours, you go back to eating normally for the rest of the day. 

There are different types of fasting

  1. 12/12 in which for 12 hours in a row nothing is ingested and the following 12 hours we make an orderly and healthy intake .
  2. 10/14: 14 hours without eating and 10 eating.
  3. 8/16: 16 hours without eating and 8 eating.
  4. 24 hours straight without eating. This type of fast would be practiced in a timely manner. It is the most difficult fast to follow and probably unnecessary.


How can it help us improve our digestive well-being?

After 2-4 hours without eating anything, movements occur in our small intestine called “migratory complex” that help eliminate food remains from the last digestion passing from the small intestine to the large intestine. 

If we do an overnight fast of 12-14 hours we enhance this cleaning. This is the simple explanation of why those with digestive problems can benefit from fasting.

One can benefit from this fast as long as the food choices are correct during the eating hours. It is essential that during these hours the diet is orderly, sufficient, healthy, balanced and well planned. And to achieve this on many occasions one may need the help of a dietitian.  

How can intermittent fasting help with weight loss?

The studies carried out in this sense are very recent and it seems that the results are common: in these studies, a group of people who performed intermittent fasting and another group who followed a balanced hypocaloric diet for several weeks were compared and the response of the sample that followed intermittent fasting was NOT superior to the rest .

In those studies where the long-term result has been observed by observing weight maintenance, we did not find any differences either. Therefore, the answer is that intermittent fasting can be a tool, but not better than others.

What is still not entirely clear is how this weight is lost. Do you lose the same percentage of fat and muscle mass? Studies do not show conclusive results. It could be that in those people who fast, the loss of muscle mass is greater, but probably if we include the force exercise factor we could have different results.  

What you should keep in mind, whichever option you choose, is that to lose weight you should not eat little, you should eat healthy and you should not eliminate food groups or starve . The choice of food should seek to maintain your muscle mass and promote weight loss. And if you have doubts when making this choice, consult a dietician-nutritionist .



If I train fasted, can I burn more fat?

The answer is quick: NO.  Although intermittent fasting is not necessary to train fasted, they are usually interrelated issues, and if you are one of those who train first thing in the morning, you may have asked yourself this question at some time.

Studies have clearly shown that fasted training does not help improve body composition . But real fasted training , which is not the same as fasted training, can be a tool for endurance athletes. 

true fast means that since your last intense workout (for example, a bike workout or a run the previous afternoon) you have not consumed carbohydrates, therefore, you have not regenerated your muscle glycogen.

Yes, you can eat, you should have dinner and you can have breakfast, but in these meals you will not include carbohydrates, thus preventing the regeneration of glycogen. Yes, you can consume proteins such as meat, eggs or fish and fats such as oil and avocado. After the actual fasted workout, you will eventually need to rebuild your glycogen stores by consuming carbohydrates again.

intermittent fasting athletes

Can I do intermittent fasting without any goal?

One reason one might decide to do intermittent fasting is practicality. And if you adapt well to fasting it can be an option.

People with little time, or who do not want to spend too much time eating, decide to follow this practice. By having fewer hours to eat there are fewer meals to make and thus the day becomes easier for them.

It is not a bad option, but it is very important that you feel comfortable with this practice. Sometimes we want to continue fasting, but spending so many hours without eating ends up causing us anxiety and we end up with anxiety and unhealthy foods . If this is your case, you should not follow the fast and do not feel bad about it, each one has their own rhythm and it is important to respect it.

For whom is intermittent fasting contraindicated?

We have seen that intermittent fasting can have its benefits, but it also has contraindications . In some cases it will not be indicated to do it and it is important that you know it in case you are one of them.

Intermittent fasting is contraindicated in:

  • pregnant and lactating
  • People with an eating disorder
  • Underweight people
  • People with gastroesophageal reflux and chronic gastritis. In these cases it is recommended to eat little and often.
  • people with diabetes
  • Depending on what types of chronic medications are consumed, it will not be indicated either.

With this information you can make your decision. If you want to try fasting, you know what its benefits can be, but if you don’t adapt it won’t be a problem, since fasting doesn’t provide anything essential that you can’t get by following other guidelines.

The important thing is to make sure that what you eat is what you need and in the quantities and frequency that you need. Therefore, before thinking of “fasting” you must learn to “eat”. The opposite would be to start the house from the roof. 

And remember that the best diet is one that you can maintain long-term.

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