Many women are interested in using intermittent fasting for weight loss, especially those who have already adopted a keto lifestyle. There are benefits to time-restricted eating for both weight loss and for health optimization (2) and maybe easier practices for people to stick to or adapt to overtime.
Here are some reasons why intermittent fasting works for weight loss:
- Allows the body to use stored macronutrients for fuel
- Allows the body to make ketones
- Increases autophagy (cellular repair) and cellular efficiency
- Decreases insulin levels and balances blood sugar
- Supports hormone balance and circadian rhythm
- Increases awareness around meal timing (often reduces snacking or mindless eating)
- You will naturally eat less without feeling restricted
It’s been long known that most diets don’t work. Dieting has primarily been based on the outdated notion that calories in minus calories out somehow determines weight and that restricting calories is the cure for being overweight. This has led to a huge industry of low-fat diets, calorie counting, severely restricted meal plans or even meal replacements and more, many of which can work but only in the short-term.
However, when we are looking for long-term results (which, as you know, is what I’m most interested in), calorie-restrictive diets don’t work. Each year the statistics vary a bit, but somewhere between 95% and 98% of people who lose weight on a short-term calorie-restricted diet, will gain the weight back within a year or two. Often, they will gain more back and have a harder time losing it when the next diet comes around. Maybe you can relate to this story as many women can.
Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet, it’s a practice. It complements keto rather nicely, but truly can be incorporated into any diet philosophy, making it a helpful stair step as you work on implementing a keto diet, modified keto diet or another whole food lifestyle approach.
As intermittent fasting women, it is helpful to see that different fasting schedules work for different people. And actually, it is very important to note that what works for you right now, will likely ebb and flow throughout your life, so the less you can be attached to one “right” way to fast, or to keto for that matter, the better.
Earlier, I talked about how 16:8 is the most common schedule for intermittent fasting, but other protocols work as well. Some start slowly with 12:12 or 14:10 while others find they feel best with a longer fast such as 18:6. Some may even choose one meal per day approach and then fast for the 23 hours before their next meal. When restricting food to just one meal, or even two, it takes some careful consideration to make sure you are getting enough food and enough nutrients, especially if these restrictions are happening daily.
And as discussed above, although some will intermittent fast daily, others, especially women looking for weight loss, may find that alternate day fasting provides just enough benefit without being too stressful on the body creating an environment that is more conducive to weight loss in some cases. With so many options, there are many ways you can incorporate intermittent fasting into your weight loss strategy. When it doesn’t seem to work anymore, you can mix it up and give your body a new rhythm to adapt to.
Remember, that less is sometimes more. If you desire more weight loss or weight loss has slowed, you might be tempted to fast more and more, but that extra restriction may not always produce the desired results. It is about finding your sweet spot with fasting, where you look and feel your best and where your body naturally moves to your optimal weight.