Intermittent fasting programs correctly assume that weight loss can only be achieved by consuming less calories that you burn off. The simplest way to achieve this is to abstain from eating any food at all, in other words “fasting”. In most cases the fast itself should only be sustained for short periods of 24-48 hours. However some research studies had people abstain from food for 90 days achieving massive weight loss results approaching 100 pounds. This is an extreme example of what is possible but is only conducted in medically supervised settings and only used in cases of server morbid obesity requiring dramatic weight loss. For most people this is not necessary or advisable. A scaled down version called ‘intermittent fasting’ is becoming a popular method of weight loss.
Intermittent fasting is the practice of fasting on a semi regular schedule. In its strictest definition people who following an intermittent fasting program take every second day off from eating. For example, if you decide to eat on Saturday, you would then abstain from eating on Sunday then resume eating again on Monday. This is the purest definition of true intermittent fasting of ‘one day on, one day off’ of eating. The exact time you start and stop your fasts with this kind of eating may also vary. You may choose to start and stop your fast based on a particular time of day, or perhaps time it with your sleep cycle, or even the rise and fall of the sun. There is no hard and fast rule with intermittent fasting. The purpose is to simply eat less calories over the course of the week or month by adding in prolonged periods of abstaining from eating food.
Intermittent Fasting has been shown scientifically to produce lasting weight loss when compared to other diets such as low fat or low carb. In fact when compared head to head to head, over the course of one year, only people on an intermittent fasting diet managed to keep the weight they lost off whereas people on the low carb and low fat diets regained all the weight they had lost within a year. When the researchers asked the people on the low fat and low carb diets why they gained the weight back the people said that the diets were too difficult to follow and gave up, simply returning back to their old ways of eating. When researchers asked the intermittent fasting people how they kept the weight off for the whole year the people said that every time they felt like they were starting to over eat and gain a bit of weight they simply added in a fasting day to burn the extra calories off. This is a good example of how the simplicity of a diet is the most important factor to its effectiveness. While most other diet styles have multiple rules and entire categories of foods they recommend you avoid eating (like low carbs or low fat), fasting allows you to eat whatever you like whenever you like on your ‘eating’ days.
The only rule in an intermittent fasting program is the fast itself. True intermittent fasting of one day on/one day off is too strict for many people, however flexible intermittent fasting that allows you to choose your fasting days according to your social eating schedule makes intermittent fasting much more sustainable for long term weight loss success. Another main reason why other diets fail is because they get in the way of food culture and many of the rituals that surround food. Intermittent fasting can be incorporated into your life without removing you from the food culture and social traditions you enjoy.