Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss: How Does It Work And Is It Healthy?

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Traditional wisdom dictates that fasting for weight loss isn't a very good idea and makes one gain more weight, than it helps to lose. However, when done in a planned and healthy manner, fasting may actually help you in shedding those extra kilos. A number of fasting diets have lately become popular around the world and they are variations of the intermittent fasting diet. Intermittent fasting is a diet which helps you to lose weight by putting you on regular short term fasts. This means that while following intermittent fasting, you will be cyclically fasting by eating nothing or dramatically reducing calorie intake, followed by periods of unrestricted food consumption. The fasting diet has been said to lead to fat burn and fat loss and is said to have a number of other health benefits like improvement in blood pressure and levels of blood cholesterol. Intermittent fasting draws heavily from traditional fasting practiced by various cultures around the world, for religious or spiritual purposes.

Just like the original fasting practices, intermittent fasting also has periods of abstinence, where dieters shun high-calorie foods or even all food. Intermittent fasting is said to be a middle ground between prolonged very low calorie diets, which are said to be harmful in the long run, as well as unrestricted eating and unhealthy diets. The diet prevents any long term physiological changes in the body by alternating between calorie restriction and periods of normal eating patterns.

How Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss Works

Long term fasting is said to be bad for the body and weight loss both. However, short term fasting like the one followed in intermittent fasting is said to promote fat burn and even boost metabolism, leading to weight loss. Studies have shown that short term fasts of upto 48 hours can have positive and desired results on the body. This happens because the period of fasting results in several changes in the levels of various key hormones in the body- insulin, growth hormone and norepinephrine. During the period of abstinence or fast, the levels of insulin go down while those of growth hormone increase, both resulting in fat burn. Additionally, norepinephrine or noradrenaline is sent to the fat cells, breaking them down in fatty acids, which can be directly burned for energy. Moreover, because dieters are restricting the hours of their food consumption, they're automatically consuming lesser amount of calories than before. This is another reason intermittent fasting may lead to weight loss.

Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy For Weight Loss?

Intermittent fasting diet can certainly be helpful in weight loss, as is proven by certain research studies. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, concluded that the 5:2 method of intermittent fasting was more effective for weight loss, than a regular long term low calorie diet. In the 5:2 method of intermittent fasting, dieters eat normally for five days a week, but restrict their calorie intake and bring it down dramatically for the rest of the two days. The study also concluded that people who followed intermittent fasting also had a drop in systolic blood pressure and their bodies were able to metabolise fat more rapidly, after each meal. The fasting method seems to be an effective one for weight loss, provided that it is followed in a planned manner and after due consultation with a certified nutritionist or dietitian. Moreover, people with diabetes or any other metabolic disease which necessitates eating food after every few hours, can obviously not follow intermittent fasting for weight loss.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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