Is there an actual difference between eating less food and eating no food? Is intermittent fasting easy, and is it actually safe for weight loss and overall health so opposed to a low-calorie diet?
The answer to these questions is a resounding “yes!” Believe it or not, not eating anything at all for planned times throughout your day can be substantially better for long-term weight loss when compared to strict caloric restriction. Intermittent fasting can also have some pretty substantial health benefits as well, from improved mood to increased energy to sharper focus to clearer skin.
But how does intermittent fasting for weight loss work? Can excessive IF become dangerous? On the contrary, when controlled, efficient intermittent fasting could do a lot of good for your body.
In this guide, we’ll break down why fasting is a better way to lose weight over chronic calorie restriction– especially for long-term success and overall health.
Intermittent Fasting vs Normal Diet: The Difference Between Eating Less Food and Eating No Food
Normally, “going on a diet” means restricting the number of calories that you can consume. The caloric limit of a diet like this will vary, but many will involve cutting 500 to 1,000 calories from one’s normal intake of about 2,000 calories.
Intermittent fasting involves not consuming anything other than water (and other liquids in some cases) for a set period of time every day. One of the most popular intermittent fasting approaches is the “16:8” approach, in which a person will fast from food for 16 hours a day and eat for eight hours around the same time every day. Most IF diet plans don’t involve restricting calories at all during the “feeding” window, though it is recommended to consume healthy and nutritious foods as opposed to processed or “fast” foods.
You might be wondering, “Is intermittent fasting hard?” If you’re not used to fasting or have a tendency to snack throughout the day, taking on IF may be tricky at first. However, in the long run, IF becomes much easier over time as it is incorporated into your life as a lifestyle change.
The Facts and the History
To get a more solid idea of the factual evidence surrounding intermittent fasting’s effectiveness, let’s look at some experiments from the past.
In 1944, the Minnesota Starvation Experiment was conducted to understand the effects of caloric restriction. The experiment was designed to gain more insight into the recovery of starving people after the end of World War II. In the experiment, 36 healthy men with an average weight of 153 pounds were given a diet of 3200 calories a day for three months. Then, that caloric amount was reduced to only 1570 calories for six months. Throughout the last six months, some men needed to have their limit adjusted to ensure they lost at least 1.1 kilograms a week, meaning some were left with less than 1000 calories per day.
The results were profound, as the men experienced what many would believe to be symptoms of eating disorders. They complained of being very cold, as their body temperatures dropped to 95.8 degrees on average. Physical endurance dropped by nearly half and overall strength decreased by 21%. The men also became completely obsessed with food and because disinterested in everything else. Plagued with constant hunger, neurotic behaviors like hoarding, and the urge to steal, the men suffered quite a bit during the experiment.
We can compare this to another scenario. In 1965, a man named Angus Barbieri fasted for over 380 days straight. He ate nothing but water, black coffee, and tea for over a year. During this time, he went from 456 pounds to 180, losing an astounding 276 pounds overall. According to a case report from the time, Barbieri had no symptoms of starvation, had no trouble walking, and didn’t seem to have any negative effects. Compared to those in the Minnesota experiment, Barbieri did not complain of hunger and went on to keep the weight off long-term.
Of course, a single subject isn’t the most perfect comparison. However, the case of Barbieri showed that fasting could create an extremely different (and much more positive) physiological response compared to restricting caloric intake.
Why Do Intermittent Fasting? The Benefits of Not Eating All Day
The benefits of intermittent fasting vs normal diet restriction are almost endless:
- Your body will initiate cellular repair processes and hormonal changes.
- You’ll lose weight by consuming fewer meals and increases your metabolic rate during your fasting period.
- Some studies have found that intermittent fasting could extend your lifespan and add years to your life.
- Newbies to the IF world may experience some less-than-ideal side effects within the first month of incorporating IF, such as hunger, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and headaches. However, when implemented as a lifestyle change, IF helps dieters lose weight without dealing with excessive cravings or unhealthy behavior.
- Research supports the idea that IF could reduce the risk for asthma, arthritis, MS, and stroke.
- Insulin resistance and the risk of type 2 diabetes are reduced significantly during fasting periods.
- Oxidative stress and inflammation can also be reduced during fasting periods.
- Your heart health may improve, as IF has been shown to improve risk factors like blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Your cells will initiate “autophagy”, which is a cellular waste removal process that could protect against cancer.
- Brain health could improve with fasting, as several studies have shown that new nerve cells grow during long-term intermittent fasting.
- Intermittent fasting could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The benefits of intermittent fasting are numerous, but generally, there’s one single thing that gets in the way of starting and sticking with it: cravings. That’s where our Citravarin fasting mints can help, reducing your cravings for junky foods, so you can focus on what you’re really hungry for.