Interval fasting for weight loss: the opinion of a nutritionist


Interval fasting – an interesting plan for losing weight, but how effective is it? Maybe it is better to choose a traditional low-calorie diet?

Supporters of interval starvation claim that it helps regulate hormone levels and promotes rapid, stable weight loss. But is interval fasting right for you? We have studied the topic from the point of view of safety for health and effectiveness in losing weight.


What is interval starvation?

With interval fasting, eating time comes first, not calorie or nutritional composition of foods. In the classical form, the technique requires a phase of hunger, after which there is a phase of normal food consumption. In the first phase, you do not eat anything or reduce the caloric content of the menu several times in order to create the energy deficit necessary for weight loss. This approach gives you more flexibility when choosing foods and allows you to increase the caloric content of the menu in the second phase.

Traditional low-calorie diet for weight loss involves a small deficit of 250-1000 calories per day, depending on how much kilogram you need to throw off, and how quickly you want to lose weight. Even such a deficit may seem serious, but all this is minor compared to the thousands of calories that you lose in the starvation phase of an interval fasting program.


Does interval fasting help you lose weight?

Interval fasting can be an effective strategy for losing weight, but it is not better than other methods, as shown in a meta-analysis of 12 clinical trials conducted in 2015. In 2017, a randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted on 100 healthy obese adults. It turned out that after one year, the results in the interval starvation group and the daily calorie restriction group were comparable.

The choice in favor of interval starvation or traditional daily calorie restriction depends on individual preferences and characteristics of the organism. Three full meals with snacks between them have become part of our culture, but this does not mean that this diet is suitable for everyone. Some claim that it is easier for them to skip meals, in such a situation they even feel a surge of strength and energy, while others are hungry, having missed one snack. For some people, daily calorie restriction is more suitable because they like gradual changes and regular meals. The other monotonous restriction of the menu is exhausting and deprives the remnants of willpower; they prefer interval starvation, because they only need to restrict themselves for a couple of days, after which you can give up your soul.

How to practice interval fasting without risk to health

Interval fasting can be a safe choice for losing weight, but it all depends on how you approach this issue, and how your body reacts to changes. Fasting is not for everyone. You can not even try interval fasting, if you are pregnant, have diabetes, recover from illness, injury or surgery.

Critics of interval starvation also emphasize that all these severe restrictions may have the opposite effect in the form of uncontrolled overeating and other eating disorders. Our physical and mental health is delicate and fragile matter. If you cannot decide whether interval fasting is right for you, consult your doctor. There is no reason to say that interval starvation is dangerous for healthy adults who want to lose a few pounds, but caution does not hurt.

In the course of evolution, the human body learned to cope with long periods of hunger. Evolution did not teach us to eat every hour, so fasting triggers hormonal changes that are good for health. When you are starving, the level of insulin in the blood decreases, which allows cells to release stored fats and use them effectively to generate energy.

Fasting stimulates the process of self-cleaning of cells, which is called “autophagy.” When nutrients are not supplied from the outside, your cells begin to destroy damaged proteins and proteins with a broken three-dimensional structure. It does not matter if you choose interval fasting or daily caloric restriction, a few hours without food will give the body the opportunity to perform these important tasks.

It is important to note that it is impossible to put an equal sign between fasting and a hunger strike. A few days without food or with a very low-calorie diet is an unsafe strategy that definitely does not benefit health.



3 types of interval starvation

Beginners in the issue of weight loss is easier to adhere to the traditional scheme with a daily calorie restriction menu. It is easy to calculate everything here, and this approach is no worse than interval starvation. If you want to try interval fasting, here are three popular strategies:

1. Fasting every other day

The strategy, also known as “Eat-Stop-Eat”, involves the presence of 3-4 days of famine per week. Hunger days should not go one by one. After the 24-hour fasting phase, a normal day begins when you eat as much as you want.

2. Modified fasting 5

Program 5: 2 assumes the existence of two days of famine per week, between which there must be at least one day of normal nutrition. In the days of hunger, you get 20-25% of the daily caloric need. On normal days you eat normally.

3. Power on time

The principle of nutrition in time is the basis of the popular “Warrior Diet”. The strategy assumes the presence of a hungry period of 8 to 20 hours, and the rest of the time you eat without any restrictions. And so – every day. Planning a hungry gap in the evening and night hours simplifies the implementation of this plan.


There is no universal-super-effective diet for weight loss. Interval fasting may be useful, but first determine whether it is suitable for the lifestyle you want to lead. If you have tried interval fasting and realized that this is not for you, the old-fashioned reduction in the caloric content of the menu will help you to lose those extra pounds.

Listen to your body, choose a plan that suits you best. Regardless of the chosen strategy, do not forget about the quality of calories. When losing weight, choose natural products with a rich nutritional profile. An excellent choice would be vegetables, fruits, cereals, lean sources of protein and healthy fats.


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