Can Intermittent Fasting Help in Treating Obesity?

Among the numerous strategies gaining prominence, intermittent fasting has emerged as a groundbreaking approach for treating obesity and other metabolic disorders. Intermittent fasting derives from the body’s innate ability to optimize metabolism and utilize stored fat, offering hope for millions struggling with excess body weight. Intermittent fasting offers several potential benefits for treating obesity, making it a popular approach to weight management. Some of the benefits include promoting weight loss, enhancing fat burning, improving metabolic health, encouraging healthy eating habits, and more.

Intermittent fasting can be highly individualized and tailored based on hunger levels, goals, and interests.

Types of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting focuses on timing of meals not specific foods. It involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. This can be achieved in multiple forms, such as the 16/8 method (fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8-hour window) or the 5:2 method (eating normally for five days and restricting calorie intake on two non-consecutive days).

Below we explore the two main methods of fasting each of which has a variety of approaches as well as pros and cons:

  • Whole day fasting: involves not eating for one or more days at regularly scheduled intervals. A more aggressive approach is alternate day fasting, where a day of regular eating (feasting) is cycled with a day of complete fasting (where only non-caloric drinks are consumed) on a regular basis. This approach is challenging to do, most people, who opt for whole day fasting, follow the 5:2 diet, where fasting is done only two days a week, and a small number of calories (up to 500) is allowed on those two days. This is a less aggressive approach.
  • Time-restricted eating (TRE) or Modified IF: This is a less aggressive but a more sustainable approach for some people. With this method, the same scheduled eating time is followed daily. Eating is restricted to a certain number of hours per day. Some examples include, limiting food intake to an 8-hour window of the day between 10 AM and 6 PM, followed by 16 hours of fasting. Others limit food intake to a 6-hour window between noon and 6 PM.

Research on intermittent fasting for weight loss

Recent research on intermittent fasting as a weight loss strategy has gained attention and highlighted potential effectiveness and impact on overall health. *

It is important to acknowledge that individual responses to intermittent fasting can vary, and more long-term studies are needed to ascertain its effectiveness compared to other weight loss methods.

Precautions for intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is safe for most people, but it is not for everyone. Fasting is not recommended in children or in pregnant and nursing women. Caution is recommended with certain medications, especially medications for diabetes or high blood pressure. You should consult with a healthcare provider before trying intermittent fasting.

Incorporating intermittent fasting into a comprehensive health treatment plan, alongside a balanced meal and regular physical activity, may lead to more successful long-lasting outcomes. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that one approach does not fit all, and adopting a holistic lifestyle change that includes healthier eating habits and increased physical activity remains the cornerstone in addressing obesity and maintaining overall health.