“How does this stuff work? Can I really lose weight by eating whatever I want for a few hours? How am I supposed to not eat for 16 hours?”
People who are new to the world of intermittent fasting often can’t understand how it works. You likely want to try this stuff because you want to shed some fat, but you’re just not sure of how it even works.
This is why I want to show you how intermittent fasting works to lose weight even when already you’ve tried everything possible already.
We’re going to look at how fasting works, why it helps you lose weight, and how you can start right now to get lean ASAP…
Why does losing weight have to be so stressful?
I tried to figure out how intermittent fastings works because I was at the point where I was fed up with unrealistic diets that I couldn’t follow. I didn’t want to live in the gym and feel miserable 24/7 because I was “on a diet.”
There was just one problem with trying to lose weight with intermittent fasting.
I couldn’t figure out how I would skip breakfast and go an entire 16 hours without eating.
When I first read about this space in 2012, I just couldn’t fathom the idea of not eating first thing in the morning. This made no sense to me and I didn’t think that I could survive. I thought that my metabolism would just give up on me. I thought that I would have no energy.
Then after a few months, I realized how easy this system was. I couldn’t stop telling everyone about it. I got to enjoy my meals while still burning off the weight and seeing abs for the first time in years. I got my mornings back too since I didn’t have to force myself to be eating every few hours.
We’re trained to eat every few hours. We think that if we go until lunch without eating that we’re going to starve to death. We worry about what will happen if we don’t constantly eat.
How does intermittent fasting work?
“How exactly do I do this?”
This is the number one question that I get through social media. It seems like the idea of fasting and feasting is simple, but there’s more to it when you begin to attempt it. It’s no surprise that many people search through Google and social media to ask about how does intermittent fasting work in hopes of finding answers.
The whole concept of time-restricted eating involves going a period without eating any food or consuming any calories followed by a period of eating.
Dave Asprey tries to summarize it best with this line in, “Fast This Way” about the basics of intermittent fasting:
“The basic principle of intermittent fasting is that you toggle between short periods of doing without and periods of returning to your baseline behavior. This idea has been catching on lately, so you may have seen books and articles promoting specific ideas about the right way to do intermittent fasting. Some people cite scientific research in support of the so-called 16:8 intermittent fast, built around sixteen hours of going without. Others argue that an eighteen-hour fast might be somewhat better. Or twenty-four hours, based on yet another study. ”
So how does this work?
You go through a period of eating and a phase of not eating.
You pick a style of fasting that works for you so that you go a certain amount of time without food before getting to feast.
There are people who do one meal a day, some who just skip breakfast, and there are others who engage in longer fasts.
So some people will fast 16 hours from dinner until lunch, some will fast for 24 hours by not eating from dinner to dinner, and some will even do a 72-hour fast occasionally to reset.
You go a period without consuming any calories followed by a period of consuming calories.
You find a fasting style that suits you.
There are so many different ways to do this. We’ve gone over every style of fasting in the past (check out this article here).
You have to find a style that fits your lifestyle and goals. We all have different schedules and goals. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to your health.
I personally found that skipping breakfast can be really easy for me since I like to get straight to work in the mornings. I get to work and then I usually do one meal a day or I have a few meals if I’m training in the evening.
Now you’re probably wondering how this actually leads to weight loss. I get that it can seem confusing. We look at this in the next section…
Why does intermittent fasting work?
There are many reasons for why skipping breakfast or trying any form of fasting helps you burn the pounds off in the easiest possible way. We’re going to look at the simple reasons and the more advanced logic for trying any form of fasting to lose weight.
How does intermittent fasting work when it comes to losing weight?
You consume fewer calories with intermittent fasting.
There are people who fast for the health benefits. Then there’s the simple approach to this whole concept.
You cut out calories from your day and it’s easier to get into a calorie deficit when you eat less frequently.
That’s it. There’s the magic revealed for many who lose weight with intermittent fasting. You limit your chances of screwing up when you only eat for a few hours during the day.
It’s tougher to go over your daily calories when you take one meal out of the equation. You eat less. You have less opportunity to go over your daily calories.
Since you’re limited in how long you can eat for, the goal is to eat less.
On that note…
You finally have a system that works with intermittent fasting.
Most of us don’t know how to lose weight realistically. We know that we should be eating better. We know that we should be training harder. We just don’t know how to make this possible. We get stuck and confused. This frustration leads to confusion which then causes a vicious cycle of binge eating
The truth is that most of us just don’t have a system in place when it comes to seeing progress.
We know that we want to lean down, but we don’t know where to start.
I once saw a friend tracking how many chips he snacked on. I asked him about it and he said that he was trying to lose some weight. His logic was that he would eat a bit less with every meal to get into a calorie deficit. That’s a fair idea that makes sense logically.
However, for most of us, it’s so much easier to just delay a meal than it is to cut back a little from every meal. Fasting is the easiest system to follow. You go a period without eating, then you get your food in, and then you move on with your life.
According to Miracle Morning, your habits are everything. This one point from Hal Elrod on creating systems really stuck out to me:
“It’s been said that our quality of life is created by the quality of our habits. If a person is living a successful life, then that person simply has the habits in place that are creating and sustaining their levels of success. On the other hand, if someone is not experiencing the levels of success they want—no matter what the area—they simply haven’t committed to putting the necessary habits in place which will create the results they want.”
What this means is that you create a system with easy-to-follow daily habits (fast and then you feast). You have a process that you can follow effortlessly for losing weight. You don’t have to worry about living in the kitchen, weighing your food, or trying to follow some restrictive diet.
You can eat food that you enjoy without feeling guilty.
The reason that most diets don’t work is that you simply aren’t allowed to eat food that you enjoy. You look through any diet plan and you get a laundry list of food that you’re not allowed to eat.
When you feel restricted, you struggle with compliance. Your compliance will increase when your restrictions decrease. With time-restricted eating, you focus on when you eat instead of what you eat. This means that you don’t have to be as strict with your diet.
You also get more energy from following a fasting plan.
I have more energy in the morning when I don’t stuff my face first thing. I wake up after a 7-8 hour rest, hydrate, and then have some coffee. I get to work, I go for a walk, and I try to get a workout in. I have the energy to get so much done before it’s time to feast.
Ben Greenfield made this interesting point about intermittent fasting and increased energy:
“As counter-intuitive as it might sound, energy levels tend to increase during extended fasts due to a rise in the hormone adrenaline. Humans have likely evolved this mechanism as a way to give the body a boost to go hunt down some grub when food is scarce.”
I have more energy when I don’t have a meal in me. It’s easier to train, to focus on work, and to get things done.
In this article at the Huffington Post, Sharon Zarabi (a registered dietician) was quoted as saying:
“Your body becomes more efficient at using energy and this helps improve mood, mental ability and long-term performance.”
You’re not as hungry with intermittent fasting.
You may think that you’re going to starve to death if you don’t eat by lunch. The opposite actually happens. When you skip breakfast and just start your day without food, you often don’t get hungry until the afternoon.
“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.” -Courtney M. Peterson, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“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.”
Your hormones are on your side when it comes to controlling hunger.
This article from the Health Department from the University of Michigan
“Insulin levels drop when a person is not consuming food. During a period of fasting, decreasing insulin levels cause cells to release stored glucose as energy. Repeating this process regularly, as with intermittent fasting, leads to weight loss. “
Dave Asprey summarizes it best in the aforementioned book when it comes to ghrelin and leptin:
“Ghrelin is the primary hunger hormone, activated to tell your body it’s time to eat. Leptin is the antihunger hormone, which tells you when you’re full. Ghrelin levels decline after a meal as leptin levels rise.”
Asprey goes on to state this:
“Small portions of most foods will make you hungrier. I say these things as a former fat person who is no longer fat. The reason I’m not fat anymore is that I’m not hungry anymore. It’s not because I eat fewer calories! I did learn to say no to food, but in the right way—in a way that works with rather than against the biological systems inside me, by doing without food at the right time and for the right period of time.”
Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone.” Fasting can regulate your ghrelin levels. Leptin on the other hand tells you when you’re satiated. Check out this study on ghrelin and fasting for more research.
That’s why intermittent fasting works even if you’ve tried everything in the past to lose weight.
We will save the health benefits of fasting for another article.
How can you start intermittent fasting to lose weight?
Most people can’t figure out how to get started with intermittent fasting. We tend to overcomplicate this fitness world. We want all kinds of ironclad rules that can never be broken.
In reality, life is supposed to be flexible. Things happen and rarely does everything go according to plan.
Here’s how you can start with intermittent fasting right now:
- Decide on a style of time-restricted eating that you want to follow.
- Replace your breakfast with a glass of water and some black coffee.
- Sleep in. Focus on getting your sleep. You’re going to struggle with fasting and dieting if you’re not properly rested.
- Stay busy until it’s time to eat. The goal isn’t to be idle. The goal is to get more done.
- Eat your meals. Eat your meals and enjoy them. You can do lunch and dinner, a big dinner, or you can do alternate day fasting.
- Move on with your life after eating. You move on. You don’t have to think about food all of the time. You can do whatever you want.
That’s how intermittent fasting works. There are many benefits to doing nothing. You get your time back, you can still eat food that you actually enjoy, and you’re going to burn the pounds off.