Food and eating sometimes is such a huge part of our social lives. What if there was a way that you could go out with friends and eat whatever you wanted…and still lose weight. Is that possible? Well, it can be with the intermittent fasting meal plan.
Although fasting has been part of some religions for centuries, fasting recently has been found to be a good method for weight loss. This meal plan is not right for everyone, but it can be a great way to lose weight for some people. Also, there may be some health benefits of fasting beyond just the benefits of the weight loss itself.
Does intermittent fasting really cause weight loss?
Yes, intermittent fasting can really cause weight loss. Intermittent calorie restricted meal plans, usually called “intermittent fasting,” lead to about as much weight loss as daily calorie restricted meal plans (keeping calories low every day). A 2018 review looked at several studies of obese people who used intermittent fasting and found that this meal plan was effective for reducing body weight. People lost an average of 6.6 to 11.4 pounds in three months and an average of 18 pounds in a year.
Is the intermittent fasting diet right for me?
There are several advantages to an intermittent fasting meal plan. You do not have to track calories everyday and, depending on the type of plan that you follow, a good portion of your eating could be unchanged from your current eating patterns. Also, fasting is only intermittent, so if you plan your schedule correctly, you can eat out with friends and not have to consider what you order on the menu. I have had many patients who follow this plan and find it quite easy and successful for themselves.
Who does not do well with intermittent fasting?
If you are often hungry, then intermittent fasting may not be optimal for you. You could be quite cranky or uncomfortable during fasting. If you have a lot of hunger, you may even overeat when you are not fasting. This could result in less weight lost, or even weight gain. Also, if you have a tendency to binge eat, or eat excessively in an uncontrolled way, then it may not be healthy for you to follow an intermittent fasting meal plan. Fasting and then overeating can lead to unhealthy patterns of eating. I personally, am not able to do well on an intermittent fasting diet because I tend to get very hungry and overeat after fasting.
Are the health benefits of intermittent fasting?
Anytime that a person loses weight there may be health benefits, but is there anything uniquely beneficial to losing weight with intermittent fasting? There is some evidence that intermittent fasting decreases inflammation. People who are fasting intermittently because of the month-long holiday of Ramadan were studied and were shown to have some reduced markers of inflammation.
There are also some health benefits that have been shown in mice and rats that are forced to fast intermittently, but these haven’t yet been shown in humans.
- Mice that were forced to intermittently fast had improved brain function.
- Rats that were forced to intermittently fast live longer.
How do you do intermittently fast?
There are two main categories of intermittent fasting plans: time restricted eating, and whole day fasting.
In time restricted eating, you pick a small window of time each day when you eat and then you fast for the rest of the day. One common plan in time restricted eating includes fasting for 16 hours each day and only eating during the remaining eight. There are variations to this type of plan, including times that range from 12 hours of fasting to 23 hours of fasting (which means you eat just once a day). During the hours that you are fasting, you only drink water or non-caloric beverages.
In whole day fasting, you fast on some days and eat regularly on other days. Also, you are not usually strictly fasting on your “fasting “days. In strict fasting, you eat zero calories, you would only have water and non-caloric beverages. If you are following a whole day fasting diet, then you are usually following a “modified fast”, which means that you eat about 500-600 calories on the fasting days.
Some whole day fasting plans recommend fasting every other day, while others ask you to fast on any two of the seven days of the week. This plan of fasting 2 days a week and eating regularly 5 days a week is often called the 5:2 diet, or The Fast Diet, and this is currently the most popular intermittent fasting meal plan. The Fast Diet became popular after August 2012 when the British journalist Michael Mosley featured the 5:2 diet in the BBC2 Horizon documentary Eat, Fast & Live Longer.
How to follow The Fast Diet
In the 5:2 diet or The Fast Diet, you eat normally on 5 days of the week, and you do a modified fast (eating about 500-600 calories) on 2 days of the week. So what do you eat on those 2 days a week when you are doing a modified fast?
There is not a specific type of food that you have to eat on those days, but you will want to eat foods that have low calories and have a lot of volume to fill you. Vegetables and lean proteins are good choices. An omelette with egg whites and lots of vegetables might be a good choice for breakfast. Also, a protein shake with a lot of ice can fill you without many calories. There are also many low calorie vegetable soups that can be filling without many calories.
Here are 27 days of 500 calorie or less plans that you can check out to see what you might eat on those 2 days a week during a modified fast.
Would you like more information about how to lose weight? Check out my e-book, The Obesity Solution, A Compassionate Step-by-Step Guide to Finally Losing the Weight and Keeping it off.