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Intermittent Fasting: Can It Help With Weight Loss?


Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 01-Jun-2023

Intermittent fasting has become a popular trend in recent years, especially for those who want to lose weight. But what exactly is intermittent fasting, and does it really help with weight loss? In this blog post, we’ll dive into the science behind intermittent fasting and how it works. We’ll explore the different types of intermittent fasting and their potential benefits. Additionally, we’ll look at how intermittent fasting helps with weight loss by regulating appetite and impacting metabolism. Finally, we’ll provide tips on how you can get started with intermittent fasting. If you’re struggling with obesity or are simply looking to lose a little weight through intermittent fasting, here’s what you need to know.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a dietary pattern that involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. It has gained popularity in recent years because of its potential health benefits, which include weight loss. Time-restricted feeding and alternate-day fasting are the most common types of intermittent fasting. Both methods restrict daily calorie intake, resulting in a calorie deficit over time that can lead to weight loss. Studies have also shown that it may improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and promote longevity. However, it’s important to note that intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with certain health conditions or specific dietary needs. Because of the potential impact on your body and overall health, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet or weight loss focused program.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting offers several potential benefits. It can aid in weight loss by promoting fat burning and reducing calorie intake. It improves insulin sensitivity which helps regulate blood sugar levels and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. The process of fasting triggers autophagy, promoting cellular repair and potential anti-aging effects. It may also reduce chronic inflammation, benefit heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. It also shows promise in supporting brain health and cognitive function. Its simplicity and flexibility also make it easy to incorporate into your lifestyle.

How Intermittent Fasting Works

Intermittent fasting depletes the body of its glycogen stores. As glycogen runs out, the body shifts to utilizing stored fat as an energy source. It also causes hormonal changes to occur including decreased insulin, ghrelin and leptin levels, and increased growth hormone release. These changes help regulate appetite and promote efficient glucose utilization. Additionally, fasting decreases mTOR activity which initiates the autophagy process. This is a cellular cleaning and repair process that removes damaged components. This cellular rejuvenation may have potential anti-aging effects. Fasting also reduces oxidative stress, regulating immune responses, and modulating inflammatory pathways. It’s all part of the body’s adaptive response to periods of reduced food availability.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

While intermittent fasting has been shown to have numerous health benefits, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks or side effects. During the adjustment period, individuals may experience temporary side effects like hunger, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and disrupted sleep patterns. Nutritional deficiencies are also a concern if meals during the feeding window lack essential nutrients. People with diabetes or at risk of low blood sugar need to closely monitor their levels. Those with a history of eating disorders or obsessive thoughts about food may worsen their condition. Sustainability can be challenging, as consistent adherence may be difficult, leading to weight regain or frustration.

What Are The Most Common Types of Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular as an effective way to lose weight, and there are various methods to choose from. The 16/8 method involves eating within an 8-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. This method is one of the simplest and most popular approaches. The 5:2 diet involves eating normally for five days of the week and restricting calorie intake for two non-consecutive days. This method can be challenging but may provide more flexibility than other approaches. Finally, alternate-day fasting involves alternating between days of normal eating and days of restricted caloric intake. With so many options available, it’s essential to choose a method that works best for your lifestyle and goals while considering any potential risks or side effects associated with each approach.

16/8 Method

Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for good health, but what you eat is just as important. The 16/8 method involves fasting for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window. This pattern can be easily incorporated into your daily routine by skipping breakfast and eating within a specific period of time during the day. This can help to regulate your appetite and decrease snacking throughout the day. Studies have shown that, in addition to helping with weight loss, the 16/8 method can also lead to improved blood sugar levels, and other health benefits. 

5:2 Method

The 5:2 method of intermittent fasting is another popular approach for weight loss. This method involves eating normally for five days and restricting calorie intake to 500-600 for two non-consecutive days. It’s essential to consume nutrient-dense foods during the non-fasting days to ensure proper nutrition. Several studies have suggested that the 5:2 method can lead to significant weight loss and improved metabolic health. Additionally, this approach may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation in the body. However, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider before starting any type of intermittent fasting, especially if you have a history of disordered eating or any medical conditions.

Alternate-Day Fasting

Restricting calorie intake on alternate days is the main principle behind this type of intermittent fasting. While it can be challenging for some people to adhere to, studies have shown that alternate-day fasting can lead to significant weight loss and improvements in overall health markers such as blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, it’s important to note that consuming nutrient-dense foods on non-fasting days is crucial to ensure proper nutrition. Alternate-day fasting may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with a history of disordered eating or certain medical conditions. As with any dietary change, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting an intermittent fasting regimen.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Help With Weight Loss?

Intermittent fasting has gained popularity as a weight loss technique over the past few years. It offers a simple and flexible approach to weight management, without strict dietary restrictions or complicated meal plans. Intermittent fasting can also be easily incorporated into various lifestyles. It helps control caloric intake, can regulate appetite hormones and promotes fat burning. Not only is it supported by anecdotal evidence of successful weight loss, it has shown promising results in scientific studies. Plus, it’s also seen as a sustainable long-term strategy that can be combined with other healthy lifestyle habits.

Appetite Regulation & Calorie Reduction

Intermittent fasting can have a significant impact on appetite regulation and calorie reduction, which leads to weight loss. Here’s how it works:

  1. Hormonal Regulation: Intermittent fasting helps regulate hormones specific involved in appetite control, such as ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone,” is typically reduced during fasting periods. This decrease in ghrelin levels leads to decreased feelings of hunger. Leptin, the “satiety hormone,” can become more sensitive during fasting. This enhanced sensitivity promotes a stronger feeling of fullness and helps to reduce your overall food intake.
  2. Caloric Restriction: One of the main ways that intermittent fasting helps with weight loss is through the creation of a calorie deficit. By restricting the time window for eating, you’re more likely to consume fewer calories. This reduction in calories is a key factor contributing to weight loss.
  3. Increased Meal Awareness: With a limited eating window, you may become more aware of your body’s signals of hunger and satiety. This heightened awareness makes it easier to control portion sizes and make conscious food choices. By eating mindfully, you’re more likely to consume an appropriate amount of food and avoid overeating.
  4. Improved Food Choices: A reduced eating window can also encourage you to make healthier food choices. Since there is a limited time available for eating, you’re more likely to prioritize nutrient-dense, satisfying meals in order to avoid being hungry later. This focus on high-quality, whole foods can contribute to overall reduced calorie intake and better weight management.
  5. Reduced Snacking and Late-Night Eating: By limiting your eating to a specific window of time, often excluding late-night hours, you’re more likely to eliminate or reduce mindless snacking and late-night eating. These are common contributors to excessive calorie intake.

It’s important to note that individual responses to appetite regulation and calorie reduction can vary. It’s important to listen to your body, monitor your hunger and fullness cues.

Metabolism & Fat Burning Impacts

Intermittent fasting can have significant impacts on your metabolism and your body’s ability to burn fat:

  1. Increased Fat Utilization: When you fast, your body exhausts its glycogen (stored glucose) reserves, typically within 12-24 hours. Once glycogen is depleted, your body transitions to utilizing stored fat as its primary energy source. This metabolic shift, known as ketosis, promotes fat burning and helps facilitate weight loss.
  2. Enhanced Hormone Sensitivity: Intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity, which is the body’s ability to respond effectively to insulin. When insulin sensitivity is high, cells become more receptive to insulin, facilitating the transport of glucose from the bloodstream into cells for energy. This helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduces your risk of insulin resistance, which is a condition associated with weight gain and metabolic disorders.
  3. Thermogenesis and Metabolic Rate: Intermittent fasting may increase thermogenesis, which is the body’s production of heat. This process can raise your metabolic rate, leading to an increased expenditure of calories. Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting can boost your metabolic rate by 3-14%, which improves your fat burning potential.
  4. Increased Growth Hormone Release: Intermittent fasting stimulates the release of growth hormone (GH), a hormone involved in fat metabolism and muscle preservation. GH promotes the breakdown of stored fat, enabling your body to utilize fat as an energy source and support weight loss. It also helps maintain lean muscle mass, which is important for your overall metabolic health.
  5. Cellular and Molecular Adaptations: Fasting triggers cellular processes such as autophagy and mitochondrial biogenesis. Autophagy involves the breakdown and recycling of damaged cellular components, including dysfunctional mitochondria. Eliminating these damaged components promotes cellular health and function. Mitochondrial biogenesis refers to the generation of new mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouses responsible for energy production. This process improves overall metabolic efficiency, allowing your body to burn fat more effectively.
  6. Reduced Inflammation: Intermittent fasting has been associated with reduced levels of inflammatory markers in the body. Chronic inflammation is linked to obesity and metabolic disorders. Lowering inflammation supports a healthier metabolic environment, facilitating fat burning and weight loss.

It’s important to note that individual responses may vary, and factors such as age, gender, body composition, and overall health can influence the effects.

Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting

If you’re considering intermittent fasting as a weight loss strategy, it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your fasting period. Begin with a shorter fasting period and see how your body responds before extending it further. It’s also essential to choose a fasting schedule that works best for your lifestyle and preferences, whether it’s the 16/8 method, the 5:2 method, or alternate-day fasting. To support weight loss, focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods during eating periods and avoid overeating to compensate for the fasting periods. Keep in mind that intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions like diabetes or eating disorders. Therefore, it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new dietary plan, including intermittent fasting.

To increase your chances of success with intermittent fasting, it’s important to stay hydrated during your fasting periods and prioritize sleep to support healthy hormone levels and energy levels. Additionally, incorporating regular exercise and physical activity can help to enhance weight loss and improve overall health outcomes. Remember that intermittent fasting is not a magic solution for weight loss, but rather an approach that can be used as part of a comprehensive plan that includes a healthy diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors. By taking a responsible approach, and with guidance from healthcare professionals, it may be possible to achieve both healthy and sustainable weight loss results.

In Conclusion

Intermittent fasting can be an effective way to lose weight. By reducing your calorie intake, regulating you appetite, and increasing your metabolism, intermittent fasting can help you to reach your weight loss goals. Of course, you should always understand the potential risks and side effects associated with any diet or weight loss program and consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet or weight loss focused program is always recommended.

If you’re considering intermittent fasting for weight loss or have any questions, contact us today and let us show you why, at Physiomed, Healthier Starts Here.


FAQs on Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

Q1: What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a dietary method that involves alternating periods of eating and fasting. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential benefits for weight loss and overall health. There are different types of intermittent fasting, but the most common include the 16/8 method, the 5:2 diet and alternate-day fasting. This eating pattern can help with weight loss by reducing calorie intake and increasing metabolism. Additionally, it has been shown to provide other health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and improving brain function.

Q2: Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Everyone?

Intermittent can provide many benefits but may not be suitable for everyone, particularly for those with a history of underlying health conditions or specific dietary requirements. Fasting for extended periods or excessively restricting calories can cause adverse effects such as fatigue, headaches, and dehydration. Nutritional deficiencies are also a concern if meals during the feeding window lack essential nutrients. People with diabetes or at risk of low blood sugar need to closely monitor their levels. Those with a history of eating disorders or obsessive thoughts about food may worsen their condition. Sustainability can be challenging, as consistent adherence may be difficult, leading to weight regain or frustration. So, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before embarking on any intermittent fasting regimen.

Q3: How Much Weight Can You Lose with Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting can be an effective tool for weight loss. However, the amount of weight you can lose varies depending on several factors. Your starting weight, diet, exercise routine, and other lifestyle habits all play a role in determining your success. According to studies, individuals who practice intermittent fasting have reported losing anywhere from 3-8% of their body weight over a period of 3-24 weeks. With proper guidance and patience, intermittent fasting can be a valuable tool for achieving your weight loss goals while promoting overall health and well-being.

Dr. Scott Wilson

Dr. Scott Wilson is the Founder & Chairman of Physiomed; one of Canada’s largest franchised networks of inter-disciplinary healthcare clinics. A graduate of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Dr. Wilson founded Physiomed in 1994 and has since grown Physiomed to over 30 clinics in Southern Ontario and British Columbia. With hundreds of practitioners from over a dozen disciplines, Dr. Wilson and Physiomed have helped over 100,000 Canadians with physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, orthotic therapy, compression therapy and clinical conditioning as part of a program of rehabilitation and health optimization. In addition to helping patients improve their physical and mental well-being, Dr. Wilson has also mentored hundreds of practitioners to provide better care while enjoying more fulfilling careers. He is also a keynote speaker on many health related topics including how physiotherapy, chiropractic and health & wellness treatment can help with stress, weight loss, and unlocking the true potential within to achieve lasting physical well-being.

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