How to Lose Weight With Intermittent Fasting
While there are many different strategies for losing weight that vary in effectiveness and restrictiveness, one of the most popular strategies that has captured public attention time and time again within the past decade is intermittent fasting — an eating pattern that involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. Whether you’re interested in intermittent fasting as a way to shed off the few extra pounds you packed on during quarantine or looking to lower your risk for certain health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, the first step toward a new lifestyle is always challenging.
Fortunately, you’re not alone in this process. Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC, a nutrition-focused heart specialist in Tampa, helps transform his patients’ lifestyles by recommending daily exercise and a shift to a heart-healthy eating pattern, like intermittent fasting. He can educate you on all of your options for cardiovascular nutrition and guide you through every step of the process of uncovering the benefits of this eating pattern. In this editorial, we’ll explain some of the most effective methods to help you lose weight via intermittent fasting.
The 16/8 Method
The 16/8 method, also known as the Leangains protocol, was popularized by Swedish nutritionist and personal trainer Martin Berkhan and involves restricting your consumption of foods to a set window of eight hours per day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. This cycle of eating and fasting can be repeated as frequently as you like, from once a week to every day, depending on your personal preference and goals. Doing this method of intermittent fasting can be as easy as not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast the following morning.
For example, if you finish dinner at 8 p.m. and don’t eat anything until noon the next day, you’re fasting for 16 hours. During this 8-hour eating window from noon to 8 p.m., you can then fit in another 2 or 3 meals. The only catch is that you must eat nutrient-rich whole foods and beverages during this eating period in order to reap the full rewards of this fasting method.
The 5:2 Method
The 5:2 method is a straightforward intermittent fasting regimen that involves eating as you normally would for 5 days of the week and restricting your caloric intake to 500-600 calories for the remaining 2 days of the week. Unlike a true fast, which would involve you eating nothing for a select period, the method aims to reduce your caloric intake on fasting days to a quarter of your daily needs. For example, a woman who normally eats about 2,000 calories per day would only eat 500 calories on her fasting days.
It’s crucial that these fasting days are not consecutive so that your body may receive the calories and nutrients it needs to function properly. The most popular form of this method involves taking their reduced-calorie days on Monday and Thursday, with regular days of eating in between. As with any form of intermittent fasting, it’s important to avoid loading up on processed or sugary foods during your regular eating days.
Finally, alternate-day fasting is a method of intermittent fasting that involves fasting every other day and eating whatever you’d like on the non-fasting days. Some versions of this method embrace “modified” fasting, where you eat around 500-600 calories on fasting days. Other versions involve eliminating calories altogether on fasting days.
A full fast every other day can be difficult for beginners, so it’s often recommended that you start with modified fasting and eat only a few hundred calories on your fasting days. This is also much more sustainable and just as effective than doing full fasts on those days. If you’re ready to transition to one of these methods of intermittent fasting and take the next step towards transforming your life, consult one of the best Tampa cardiac specialists — Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC.
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