If you have clicked on this article, you have most likely clicked on an article called something like: “Benefits of Intermittent Fasting” before. You have heard of celebrities who swear by IF, you have seen the impressive stats of the positive health effects and you have learned a new word: “autophagy”.
Fasting does have a great effect on our bodies. Our insulin levels drop, our cells regenerate faster and our brain health gets better. You have read it in John Hopkins University reports, blogs of avid IF followers and Harvard Health Blog. There is one area of life, however, where IF is not a panacea and it is weight loss.
If an article says “Intermittent Fasting is the Most Powerful Tool for Weight Loss Like Nobody Has Ever Seen Before”, it is lying. It is also a clickbait preying on insecure people who are in a desperate search of a magic potion to finally end the vicious circle of diets and weight-loss teas. IF on itself does not help you lose weight — this is as sure as death and taxes.
Here comes the best part: I actually love IF for all the freedom and benefits it gives me. I turn on the “Start Fasting” reminder in my app and I am no longer thinking about macros, calories and butter in my coffee. I get high on the clarity it gives me for my writing. I am not mindlessly snacking at my work table or trying to have my breakfast in the midst of a deadline. The first thing I do in the morning is write with a clear head.
Everybody is different. For some working out on an empty stomach is just like coffee in terms of energy. Others may pass out at a thought of hitting the gym without any carbs in their system. You do YOU and you consult a specialist before introducing anything radical into your routine. However, even three workouts a day with IF together will not equal weight loss.
The only thing that counts for weight loss is calories in — calories out. As long as you’re are consuming less energy than you are spending, you will lose weight. Even if your IF window is 23 hours long but you manage to squeeze in the daily calories of a hardworking lumberjack into you eating hours, you will gain weight.
Yes, your insulin levels will go down during your fasting window. If they are down long enough, your fat will start burning. However, catching up on your fasting time with processed food high in sugar and unhealthy fats will not only stop the weight loss process.
It will also create a huge insulin rush in your blood where it will be extremely difficult to stop cravings during your fasting window. I’ve definitely tried and my willpower went out of the window while I went out to get a chocolate fudge brownie.
IF works if what you consume in your eating time is reasonable. While it may seem extremely obvious for many, the number of articles defending IF as the one and only solution for weight loss is astonishing.
IF + reason = miracle. Or, more precisely, a science-based fact. Want to get rid of those extra pounds? Count your macros, stick that butter into your coffee if you want, go paleo or adopt a Mediterranean diet, as long as your intake is less than what you produce in terms of energy. IF is not a diet, it is a lifestyle that is extremely helpful on many levels. The beauty of IF is in its simplicity and that it takes a lot of unnecessary thinking out of the decision-making process.
The “IF doesn’t work” applies to other benefits of this lifestyle. If you spend your eating window binge drinking and your fasting window — recovering from a hangover, your brain cells have a very little chance of rebuilding themselves. Regardless of the result you want to get from IF, it always comes with a “but” and something you have to add.
The miracle solution is science. Unlike the practice of Intermittent Fasting itself, science is complex and there is always more than one ingredient to the recipe of success.