Intermittent fasting for weight loss? Image of a clock on a plate with cutlery and a tape measure

Will Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Weight?

nutrition May 05, 2023

Let's talk about a hot topic that a lot of people are experimenting with to lose weight —intermittent fasting!

Before we get into what intermittent fasting is, we want to mention that there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition or fitness. What works for one individual may not work for you (which is why we stand by coaching practices that are 100% individualized!).

What's most important when you're on a health and fitness journey is figuring out what is sustainable for you and your lifestyle. 

 If you've been thinking about starting intermittent fasting because you heard it will help you lose weight or that it has other health benefits, this post is for you. We'll dive into what intermittent fasting is, different forms of intermittent fasting, the pros and cons of fasting, and whether fasting periods are superior for helping you burn body fat.

Hint: There is no such thing as a superior approach to fat loss.


What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is more accurately called time-restricted-feeding. It means you're eating only during a certain window of time within the day. 

Usually, with intermittent fasting, that period of eating is only 6-8 hours a day, and you spend the remaining 16-18 hours in a fasted state. You may also see this online as a 16:8 or 18:6 eating pattern. The larger number indicates the fasting period, and the lower number indicates the eating period.

Some people practice intermittent fasting a set number of days a week or alternate day fasting, while others practice it every day. If you choose to try this approach, select the intermittent fasting pattern that works best for you.

Many people think of intermittent fasting as a diet; however, it's really not a diet in the traditional sense. 

Typically, diets are determined by certain “rules" (e.g., eat X amount of calories or cut out carbs), whereas intermittent fasting is not. It just looks at when you eat.

Regardless of whether intermittent fasting is technically a diet, what you likely want to know is does intermittent fasting work for weight loss and is intermittent fasting an efficient way to lose weight.

Important note: Intermittent fasting is not a good idea for everyone. Children, people with eating disorders, and people with certain health conditions should not practice intermittent fasting and should instead look for other ways to follow a healthy diet (we can help with that).

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Many people turn to intermittent fasting either because they feel they've tried every weight loss diet under the sun and it didn't work or they've heard it's a superior way to help your body burn fat.

There are several benefits people claim they get from intermittent fasting, including:

Fat Loss

Eating during a time-restricted window also usually means restricting calories consumed because you can't eat as much in a short period. After you go through continuous calorie restriction for a while, you'll start experiencing fat loss. But that will only continue happening as long as you're in a calorie deficit.

Better Metabolic Health

Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting may improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, Some research suggests that intermittent fasting may help reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is linked to various metabolic disorders, including insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.

Improved Heart Health

Speaking of cardiovascular disease, intermittent fasting may have cardiovascular benefits. These benefits include improved blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other risk factors for heart disease.

While more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of intermittent fasting on blood pressure, some studies suggest it can reduce blood pressure due to reduced inflammation, improved insulin sensitivity, and decreasing sodium retention.

The Downsides of Intermittent Fasting

Before you jump on the bandwagon and decide some form of intermittent fasting is the best option for you, take a look at these drawbacks to the approach. Because, just like anything else, there are drawbacks to intermittent fasting.

Nutrient Intake

You may not get enough nutrients if you don't properly plan your nutrition while intermittent fasting. Since you likely won't be able to eat as much in such a short period of time, it's essential that you plan ahead to get enough protein, fiber, healthy fats, and other essential nutrients.

Lower Energy Levels

Some people may experience low energy levels, fatigue, or irritability, especially during the initial phases of intermittent fasting. This may result from the lack of food, being hungry throughout most of the day, or from the sense of restriction due to your chosen intermittent fasting plan.

Your lack of energy can then impact your productivity, daily activities, and workouts.

Intermittent Fasting May Lead to Overeating

There's a risk of overeating during non-fasting periods, especially if you compensate for the fasting period by consuming excessive amounts of food, which could negate the potential benefits of fasting.

If you skip breakfast and lunch, by the time your eating period rolls around, you may start with some low-calorie foods but end up overeating highly palatable processed foods by the end of it and end up eating more than you originally intended.

Intermittent Fasting Can Lead to Disordered Eating

Intermittent fasting may trigger or worsen disordered eating patterns in some people. It's important for those with a history of eating disorders to approach intermittent fasting cautiously or consult with a healthcare professional before trying the approach.

While these are not the only potential downsides of intermittent fasting, this gives you an idea of the potential good and bad of following this approach. Intermittent fasting can help some people achieve their goals, but it's definitely not for everyone.

Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss

The short of it? 

Intermittent fasting is not the solution for sustainable fat loss for most people. 

One of the main reasons people see success with intermittent fasting is that when you condense the total volume of calories that you were eating previously in, say, a 12-hour window into just 4-8 hours, naturally, you begin to eat a little less.

It's pretty hard to eat 2,500 calories or nutrient-dense food in a 4-hour window, but it's pretty easy to eat that many calories in a 12-hour window. For that reason, intermittent fasting creates a natural decrease in calorie intake, which then results in fat loss.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of intermittent fasting will depend on a variety of individual factors, including adherence, overall diet quality (macro and nutrient composition), and physical activity levels. 

If you spend your 4-hour eating window bingeing on burgers, chips, and candy, intermittent fasting won't help your weight loss goals or provide you with health benefits.

Like any other diet approach, it's important to prioritize whole, nutrient-dense foods and listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues. And most importantly, prioritize a method that is sustainable for you

It's also important to note that there's a difference between WEIGHT LOSS and FAT LOSS. We assume what you're really looking for is to lose fat since weight fluctuates a lot more than your level of body fat due to things like food or sodium intake and water retention. If you're trying to get "lean" or "toned," you're looking to lose fat.

The Best Way to Lose Weight

We're gonna go out on a limb here and say that any form of intermittent fasting isn't the ideal weight loss plan for the vast majority of people largely because it tends to be unsustainable.

You don't need to follow a rigid eating pattern to burn fat. You need to find something that you can do for life.

That's not to say you need to be in a calorie deficit for the rest of your life! We actually want you to spend the majority of your time at maintenance calories, but the eating habits you develop while in a calorie deficit should translate to your maintenance phase as well.

So, if your calorie deficit phase has you focusing on eating healthy foods like whole grains, lean protein, and fiber, your maintenance phase should look relatively similar. Yes, you'll be able to eat more "fun" foods while in maintenance, but if you want to sustain your results, you need to follow similar nutrition practices.

For most people, a sustainable approach involves fasting between dinner and breakfast and NOT for the vast majority of the day. But if you find intermittent fasting can help you stay consistent with your nutrition, then, by all means, pursue that approach! You have to find what works for you!

Lose Weight Without a "Fast Diet" Approach

The number one thing you have to understand when looking to optimize your health is that your health and fitness journey will take time.

We understand if you feel like you've tried every diet out there and still haven't seen results, and maybe you read this blog post hoping to learn that intermittent fasting is the secret to losing weight.

Unfortunately, there is no secret to losing weight. Different approaches work for different people, and long-term results always take time to achieve.

But that doesn't mean you can't develop healthy habits and fall in love with how you look and feel! And it doesn't mean you can't try intermittent fasting, too! You just want to make sure the protocols you're trying are the best fit for your goals and lifestyle.

At KJO Coaching, we specialize in helping high-achieving women like you reach their fitness goals by taking a customized approach that considers their lifestyle and goals. 

We help you prioritize your health, fitness, wellness, and mindset so you can spend less time worrying about what to eat or how to get enough workouts in.

Click here if you want a sustainable approach to fitness so you can achieve long-term results. Our stellar team of coaches would be happy to help you along on your fitness journey. 

You can even get started on improving your health before you start working with a coach!

Check out our FREE self-sabotage workshop to learn the why behind your cravings, all-or-nothing thinking, and other psychological barriers that are preventing you from reaching your health and fitness goals. 

Click here to get started for free today!

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Vasim, I., Majeed, C. N., & DeBoer, M. D. (2022). Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health. Nutrients, 14(3).

Yuan, X., Wang, J., Yang, S., Gao, M., Cao, L., Li, X., Hong, D., Tian, S., & Sun, C. (2022). Effect of Intermittent Fasting Diet on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Insulin Resistance in Patients with Impaired Glucose and Lipid Metabolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2022.

Hi, I'm Kasey!

I coach, mentor, write, and teach with one main focus: Build strong bodies and healthy lifestyles, starting with your mindset.


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