Intermittent fasting (IF) is an increasingly popular way to burn fat whilst still being able to enjoy some of the foods you love. There are thousands of websites, books and studies that promote IF as a sustainable and effective way to lose weight.
Important Notice: This website discusses the many proven benefits of intermittent fasting, but there are potential dangers if you are taking medication. The information on this website is not medical advice. Please discuss any lifestyle changes with your doctor. Those that are under 18, underweight, have an eating disorder, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, should not follow a fasting protocol unless instructed by a medical professional.
There are a number of intermittent fasting methods, but all are based on the same principle. A period of no calories (fasting), followed by a period of eating. The most popular IF diets include:
- 16:8 / 18:6
- One Meal a Day (OMAD / 23:1)
- Alternate Day Fasting (ADF)
How does Intermittent Fasting work?
A typical person eats three main meals a day, with a few snacks here and there. Intermittent fasting usually reduces this to one or two meals per day, although total calories consumed may stay at the same level. The most popular IF diet is 16:8, meaning 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8 hour eating window. During the 16 hour fasting period, no calories are to be consumed (although drinks without calories can be enjoyed, like black coffee, green tea and water). Food and drinks with calories can only be consumed in the 8 hour eating window.
The OMAD diet takes this one step further. Calories can only be consumed once every day. This means that a large, highly calorific meal can be enjoyed. Some IF dieters find this easier than a 16:8 approach.
Why does Intermittent Fasting work?
- IF makes it harder to overeat due to a strict eating window. Many do not feel the need to count calories when following an IF diet.
- IF keeps insulin levels low, helping your body to burn fat 
- IF triggers autophagy, helping your body to remove waste material from cells 
- IF increases growth hormones which help with muscle growth and fat loss 
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting combines lower caloric consumption (due to reduced overeating) with lowered, stable insulin levels (keeping your body in the fat burning zone) and broader health benefits like autophagy and improved gene expression. This makes it an extremely effective tool to help you achieve your weight loss goals.
A Typical 16:8 Day
Most followers of a 16:8 IF diet skip food for the first few hours of the day, instead enjoying black coffee, green tea, or refreshing water. They then stop eating after dinner. This makes the diet very simple to follow, and extremely effective compared to a conventional diet where you eat throughout the day. The infographic below shows a typical 16:8 day.
Intermittent Fasting Simplifies Calorie Control
For most people the 16:8 IF diet is simply the act of skipping breakfast and any other morning snacks. This isn’t the most difficult challenge, especially if swapping your morning bowl of cereal for a freshly brewed cup of black coffee. If the average breakfast and morning snack totals 500 to 750 calories each day, by skipping these you could be eating 3,500 to 5,250 fewer calories per week! The infographic below shows the difference between a conventional diet and a 16:8 diet.