In a world where there is always a new diet trend, it is important to determine the safety and validity of each one. Intermittent fasting is a trend that has been increasing in popularity. Proponents of the diet claim it helps you lose weight without having to make many changes to your diet. Less changes may make the diet more sustainable, but does it actually help you lose weight? Let’s talk about what intermittent fasting is, the ideas behind how it works, and if it is something you should be trying.

Intermittent fasting, or IF, focuses more on when you eat than what you eat. Different IF programs have you eating your daily allotted calories in shorter periods of time throughout the day. This means there is a large window, between 16-20 hours, where you aren’t consuming any calories. Eventually, during the fasting hours, your body will run out of glycogen. This is the fuel your body prefers to use for energy. Once depleted, the body will begin to rely on stored fat for energy.

This transition from burning glycogen to burning fat is called a metabolic switch. If you consume 3 meals a day, spread out from 9am to 6pm, that fuel will last through the entire day. When you consume your calories in a shorter time frame, that energy will only last for so long, and a switch to burning fat will take place. The fasting time will differ for everyone, but the most common starting point for people is 16 hours. This means you have an 8 hour window though the day to eat your daily allotted calories.

There are two main ideas behind what makes intermittent fasting an effective tool in weight loss. First, cutting down the period of time you can eat usually decreases the amount of calories you can consume. Burning more calories than what you consume will always lead to weight loss as long as you are still getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals. Second, a long fast decreases the body's insulin response. Eating food results in secretion of insulin which tells your body to store sugar either as glycogen or fat. When fasting, insulin levels are lower for a longer period of time. During lower insulin periods, the body will store less fat. Also, stored fat will be released more easily and burned for energy.

Should you try intermittent fasting to help with your weight loss goals? There are a few individuals who should talk to their doctor before making these diet changes. Type 1 diabetics who have difficulty controlling insulin and sugar levels definitely need to be careful. Something to remember about intermittent fasting is that it is not a guarantee that you will lose weight. If you are consuming more calories than you burn, even if the time you eat them is shorter, weight loss still won't occur. Tracking food and calories is important for every diet if you wish to lose weight. 

If you are having trouble keeping track of what you eat, come talk to our nutritionist here at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic. Located in Rochester, NY, our nutrition program teaches you how to keep track of your foods and take control of your health. Give us a call to schedule your free consultation.