I often get asked by clients and members of the gym about my thoughts on intermittent fasting and whether I think it has any merit when you are looking to loose body fat. Like with many questions like this the answer is “it depends”.
For those of you who are not aware of what intermittent fasting is, it’s basically where you choose to “fast” for a longer period each day and give yourself a smaller window in which to eat in. The most common of which you hear about is a 16:8 fast which means you have an 8 hour period each day to eat in and then you don’t eat anything for the remaining 16 hours of the day.
Most of the research done on intermitted fasting and its benefits on weight loss are based from longer fasting periods, normally around 24 hours and above. Unfortunately this research has been misinterpreted to saying that any period of fasting is beneficial for weight loss. There is very little evidence to suggest that shorter periods of fasting on a regular basis have any significant benefit to an individual who is aiming to loose weight. The most important thing for any individual for weight loss is to remain in a calorie deficit.
Now just because it isn’t proven to have any benefits in increasing your rate of weight loss it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be of benefit for you. I am personally currently using intermittent fasting in my diet for my show for one very simple reason. It fits very well with my current lifestyle. Being a personal trainer I am normally booked everyday in the evenings back to back from 1700-2200. This means thats unless i decided to start eating chicken and broccoli in the middle of a training session (which i would never do) it’s impossible for me to eat during these times. If I decided to wait to eat until after this time its very likely i would have digestive distress as I would be going to sleep directly after eating. Therefore the intermitted fasting approach works very well with my diary, I personally eat all on my food between 0600- 1600.
Other than using this approach because of diary requirements I have listed the two other reasons why I believe this approach may be of benefit to you.
1. Mental focus
Many people find that that they work best in the mornings on an empty stomach. If this is you there is no reason why you couldn’t get a load of work done first thing in the morning and get your food in later on in the day. Assuming you do not have high energy demands first thing in the morning!
2. Appetite management
If one of your problems for struggling to loose weight is that you cannot control portion size this approach may work well for you. Because you have a smaller time in which you’re able to eat your calories for the day it will be harder to overeat as you are likely to become “full” quicker as your meals will inherently be closer together.
At the end of the day like always with nutrition and loosing weight it all comes down to being in a calorie deficit. This approach on its own will not cause you to loose extra body fat. It can however suit your personal situation well.
If you have any questions about anything I have mentioned about please feel free to contact me on: