“Does intermittent fasting work? Can’t I just eat less?”
You’re probably wondering if intermittent fasting works or if it’s just better to try to eat less to lose weight and get some abs.
I know how you feel. You want to lose some weight, look leaner, and feel better. You’re just not sure if you should be fasting or trying to limit what you eat with every meal.
Keep on reading to see if you really need to be fasting or if you could just count calories to lose weight to reveal those abs…
A buddy once told me that he couldn’t get into this fasting stuff because he hated feeling hungry in the morning. He wanted to count every calorie to ensure that he was in a calorie deficit. He used an app on his phone and inputted every single calorie that he consumed into this app.
I respect that and the commitment to tracking everything. I’m just not a fan of counting chips at a party. I’m not a fan of restrictive diets and being told that I can’t eat food that I enjoy.
I’m willing to embrace the slight discomfort that comes with waiting to eat than to deal with the hassle of counting calories.
Where am I going with this?
Whenever I talk to friends at events about diets and getting into shape, the idea of fasting comes up.
Does intermittent fasting work?
The obvious criticism of intermittent fasting is that you can just cut calories. Fitness experts will mock fasting by saying that it’s just calorie restriction. We’re going to look at fasting and counting calories.
Can’t I just eat less to lose weight? Do I really have to start fasting?
You can do whatever you want to. The reality is that we all suck at counting calories (actually tracking them and getting them correct when we do track), cutting back with every meal, dealing with hunger, and getting into a calorie deficit. If it was easy to lose weight and have abs, we all would have done it already.
With that being said…
You can track calories to lose weight without intermittent fasting.
If you want to ensure that you lose weight, you can be rigid and track calories every single day. For some people, they need to track everything that they consume. I can understand that and respect that. I just can’t do that myself.
If you track every single calorie that you consume and ensure that you get into a calorie deficit consistently, then you’re going to lose weight. It’s basic science. I just have a feeling that you’re not a robot.
I can confirm that a tight eating window along with tracking calories will ensure that you’re in a daily calorie deficit.
[Not sure about how many calories you burn in a day? Check out this calculator to see what your maintenance calories are. The goal should be to get in a deficit of about 500 calories or so. This tool will show you roughly how many calories you burn in a day. Your goal will be to eat 500 calories under this. You can use an app to track your calories. You may be surprised by how many calories there are in some of the food that you eat so don’t be alarmed. You can use a calculator like this one or one of the many apps out there to play around with calories.]
Intermittent fasting helps you control your hunger.
Most of us don’t know if we’re actually hungry, just bored, or simply craving something because we walked past the donut shop. Since I have an eating window, I know that I don’t eat before this time and this is what helps me curb my hunger throughout the day.
This new study makes some interesting observations:
“We suspect that a majority of people may find meal timing strategies helpful for losing weight or to maintain their weight since these strategies naturally appear to curb appetite, which may help people eat less,” said Courtney M. Peterson, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Long story short: most people get hungrier when they eat breakfast compared to not eating breakfast.
[Check out our article on dealing with hunger for more help.]
We all suck at eating less.
It’s not easy to just cut calories by eating less.
You have to deal with some sort of hunger if you want to lose weight and it sucks.
Why do you think friends who compete in bodybuilding or those who work professionally in some sort of a fitness field hate dieting so much?
Cutting calories sucks.
Fasting works because by having a tight eating window, you can sneak in an occasional treat to ensure that your compliance stays on track.
It’s easier to focus on when you eat first. Then you can work on what you eat.
“I’m going keto and giving up carbs tomorrow.” — a friend who’s likely to last 10 minutes on their new diet plan.
I often hear from friends who are fed up with how they look. They want to make drastic changes so that they can see immediate results.
Here’s the truth on restrictive diets: they don’t work. Most people need to focus on when we eat first. Then we can focus on what we eat.
There are many health benefits to fasting.
There are more benefits to fasting than just trying to lose a few pounds.
According to this article at Harvard Health:
“Short-term studies suggest that people stick to intermittent fasting diets as well as or better than they do to other diets. And according to a 2019 review article in the journal Nutrients, intermittent fasting promotes weight loss and may reduce risk factors linked to heart disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy blood lipid levels, and inflammation.”
I obviously had no idea that any of these benefits would come from simply doing nothing.
Here are some of the health-related benefits of intermittent fasting:
- You may live longer.
- Autophagy (cleaning out damaged cells in your body).
- You can have better skin.
- More motivation to train.
- A decrease in hunger (read up on these two hormones: ghrelin and leptin).
I don’t have the time or intelligence to get into each of these in today’s article.
I personally fast because I enjoy feasting, but many people out there fast for health benefits mainly. You also absolutely don’t need to eat first thing in the morning to boost your metabolism.
What’s the best way to lose weight? Is it intermittent fasting or tracking calories?
The best way to lose weight is to find a system that you can actually follow.
Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to find that system.
Check out the following video comparing intermittent fasting to counting calories for a quick summary:
How do you find a system that helps you lose weight?
Experiment and track the progress.
There’s just so much chatting that we can do. You eventually have to put ideas and systems to the test. You have to experiment with everything and then track how those experiments go.
You may find that tracking calories is easy for you. You may also discover that fasting and keeping busy will help you blast the fat away.
Here are a few tips for experimenting:
- Try tracking calories for a few days to see how much you eat. Do you eat too much?
- Track how you feel when you skip breakfast.
- See how your body reacts to fasted training.
It’s important to note that experimenting doesn’t mean you jump around from program to program. It means that you try things out for a period of time to see how you react.
Find a way to lose weight that suits your lifestyle.
It’s always impossible to give a one-size-fits-all answer on this topic because everyone has a different lifestyle.
What does lifestyle have to do with losing weight?
- The intensity of your job can hinder your progress.
- You may not have the time to devote to fitness.
- You may have a busy life.
- You may enjoy going out.
There are too many fitness articles out there that ignore real life. This is why you have to find a system that fits your unique lifestyle. As a self-employed writer, I have enough going on. I want to wake up, drink coffee, work, and then train. I want to feast daily. I don’t want to track calories.
Check out this intro guide to intermittent fasting:
Does intermittent fasting work? Yes.
Does counting calories work? Yes.
You have to find what works for you and treat yourself to results. I personally enjoy having a daily feast. Some people like to eat every few hours. It doesn’t matter, as long as you feel your best and get the results you’re after.
Let us know in the comments if you’re going to track calories or try intermittent fasting to lose weight (or both)…
I am considering the “Simple-Intermittent Fasting Program or the “Eat Stop Eat” Book plan.
I am 73 yrs young and weight approx. 170 lbs. and 5’3″. Which plan would you suggest, if either?