Alarm clock

By Dr John Barnett

It’s a known fact that people are struggling to lose weight and keep it off…. Of the 45 million Americans dieting each year, 80 to 90 percent of them will regain all their lost weight and even more. The repeated cycle of weight loss and regain shows that the simple remedy of eating healthier and exercising regularly isn’t working. A new solution is needed to help people achieve a healthy weight and maintain it. There is mounting scientific evidence behind intermittent fasting as an effective tool for weight loss and preventing repeated cycles of dieting. So what is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that involves going without food for several hours or up to a couple days. And it can become a lifelong habit. A lot of people practice intermittent fasting without even realizing it. Let’s say you go without eating from 7pm to 7am, well you just completed an intermittent fast. Here are five reasons why intermittent fasting works.

Improves insulin sensitivity

One of the ways intermittent fasting helps is through improving how well insulin ushers glucose from the blood (after eating food) into cells where it is used for energy. It’s an important part of healthy weight management. Similar to how drinking coffee habitually can dull the response to caffeine, an excess of carbohydrate intake can decrease sensitivity to insulin. When people are less sensitive to insulin, they cannot efficiently use the food they eat leading to a cascade of health issues including fatigue and increased hunger—two culprits in weight gain.

Insulin sensitivity is “reset” by fasting. Healthy men who fasted for 20 hours every other day for 15 days had increased rates of glucose uptake, signifying improved insulin sensitivity and better blood sugar control. With insulin sensitivity becoming an increasingly common issue among aging adults, intermittent fasting may be especially effective for older adults with weight loss goals.
Resets calorie intake

Although it seems counter-intuitive, evidence suggests that when intermittent fasting becomes a lifestyle, less food is commonly consumed during normal calorie days. A study with overweight adults found that they consumed only 20 percent of their normal calorie intake on alternate days.

The exact mechanism has not been identified; however, some theories suggest alterations in calorie intake could be due to shrinking of the stomach causing people to become full faster. Another theory suggests that relying on fat for fuel during fasting can up-regulate or down-regulate certain enzymes involved in metabolism affecting appetite regulation.
Encourages adherence

One of the biggest issues with fad diets is that people cannot adhere to them long-term. They are usually restrictive, can leave people feeling sluggish and tired, and often cause muscle loss. The key to weight loss and maintenance is a diet plan that fits into your lifestyle.

There are various definitions of intermittent fasting and it’s up to the individual to choose what works best for her or him. And while it may seem daunting at first, studies show that satisfaction during fasting increases with time.
Maintain muscles mass

Muscle is a very greedy tissue. It requires a lot of calories just to exist and puts the body to work resulting in a higher metabolism. For that reason, muscle is an important player in weight loss. Because fasting requires a period of time without significant food intake (including protein), some fear that it would cause muscle loss. While long periods of fasting will cause the body to turn to muscle for energy, short periods (24 to 48 hours) are not going to result in significant muscle loss.

Keep weight off for good

Any diet can help you lose weight, but many times it’s at the expense of muscle mass. And once normal eating patterns resume, weight comes back on quickly.

Researchers have evaluated weight patterns for the average dieter. The key is to make dietary changes that can be maintained for the long-term and support muscle mass. Because there are many ways to do intermittent fasting, it can be integrated into any lifestyle to support weight maintenance.