In our quest to look cute on the beach and be healthy too, there are so many diets out there that claim to help you lose weight. The question is do they work? One of the newest ones that has gained a lot of traction is the fasting diet. There are lots of variations- fast for days, fast for hours and alternate. Is this the newest fad diet or does it work?
Most of the options for this type of diet recommend severe calorie restrictions the days that you are fasting (500 for women and 600 for men). Some recommend every other day fasting while some recommend 2 days of fasting per week. Now, if you are restricting your caloric intake like this even if it is just 2 days a week it’s not surprising that you will experience some weight loss and health benefit.
Also, most fast diets are rooted in achieving health and fitness goals. So even while they are saying on your off days you can eat what you please, their recommendations are to eat clean and stick with lean meats and limit processed foods on your non fasting days. Eating clean and avoiding sugar and highly processed foods is always beneficial to both your health and weight loss goals.
In addition, there is a physiologic reason as to why fasting if done right can be so successful. One of the theories out there is that by snacking all day, the body is constantly producing insulin spikes which can put oxidative stress on the body. This worsens the responsiveness of our cells to insulin creating an environment of resistance to insulin. Decreasing insulin levels by fasting will cause several things to happen. First, blood glucose will remain normal and the body will switch to burning fat stores in the absence of food. This is exactly what we want- we want the body to burn all that extra fat! Second, regular fasting in addition to lowering insulin levels has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. Fasting, in essence, is an efficient way of reducing insulin resistance.
Let’s review how fasting can help you lose weight. First calorie restriction and eating healthy non processed foods will help you lose weight. Second, while fasting your body will start to burn fat stores since it doesn’t have another option. Third, decreased production of insulin will combat insulin resistance and provide you with another tool to combat insulin resistance and the oxidative stress high insulin levels place on your organs and blood vessels.
Of course, there is always a catch. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it right? For many fasting even twice a week is just too cumbersome. Sticking to a 500-calorie diet on your fasting days is hard. In a society where food is so cheap and easily available, this is a much more difficult task than it appears to be.
So, will the fast diet help you lose weight? It likely will if done right. However, it will not be an easy task, and be sure to discuss any diet plan with your healthcare provider prior to starting. Hope this helps, and good luck on all your weight loss goals!