One of the most common things to do today in the health world is fasting, most specifically, intermittent fasting. Yet, even intermittent fasters seem to struggle with seeing results when it comes to weight loss. Yet, this is one of the crazes that advertise weight loss as one of the beneifts. Therefore, I decided to research and ask, “Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work?”
After researching this question, metabolism is the biggest thing mentioned as the key component to the benefit of intermittent fasting. Some say it will increase and others that it will decrease. You can find posts of all kinds of other areas of diet and fitness discussing your metabolism and what affects it.
–“If you do this workout it will increase your metabolism, 5 foods to spike your metabolism, can’t lose weight–you must have a slow metabolism”–
It’s just the perfect go-to for any article or marketing gimmick. Therefore, to really get down to the honest answer of intermittent fasting’s effectiveness to weight loss, you obviously have to understand how your metabolism works…if it indeed can be increased and lowered as many product pushers and so called “experts” say it can. I think what your about to find will surprise you as we get to all that in a moment!
With all of this being stated, fasting in general is also a growing topic much like the topic of metabolism. In fact, now they often say if you fast periodically on a regular basis, you will awake your metabolism and get it going again.
Yet, there are others that say just the opposite. Again, I just find it interesting that they now have taken two growing health and fitness crazes (metabolism and intermittent fasting) and linked them together. It sounds like the miracle fix that is going to solve everything…RIGHT?!
So based on this logic and so called “science” if you are struggling to keep energy and lose weight it is because you are suffering from a slow metabolism. Therefore, your answer is to periodically starve yourself through intermittent fasting and you will increase your metabolism. This to many sounds legit because it’s what all the “experts” have been feeding us, and yes, part of this is true. However, it is a twisted truth.
As you read further I will be breaking down the two topics of metabolism and fasting to really find out if either one actually works in direct relationship with each other. I will even go further to figuring out how much metabolism has to do in anything from eating to working out. Get ready cause all that money spent buying those special foods or exercise programs to boost metabolism may turn out to be a waste!
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One of the most common beliefs associated with intermittent fasting is the benefit of it speeding up Metabolism. Metabolism isn’t just a part or function of your body. It is simply your body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Your BMR is a measuring of the number of calories your body uses to carry out basic bodily functions like breathing, repairing and replacing cells, circulating blood, etc.. There are only a factors that really determine your metabolism.
The key factors are:
- Your Sex Men typically have higher metabolic rates and burn more calories than women because their biological advantage of having more muscle and less body fat compared to women of the same age and weight. Being that many intermittent fasters are often women, this may explain some of the struggle for many intermittent fasters.
- Your Body Mass Index (BMI) Larger people are going to come packing with more muscle and burn more calories even while at rest. Even if you consider the fact that the heart has to work that much harder to circulate the blood. Knowing your BMI will say a lot about your metabolism. Surprisley, even those who are obese, and have a significant amount of muscle mass, actually have strong or high metabolisms which goes against what many may have originally thought.
- Your Age Muscle mass tends to decrease in age and fat percentage begins to rise. Your metabolic rate is greatly affected by this. Your ratio of muscle to fat will really say a lot about your BMR.
- Physical Activity Your physical activity can change everything when it comes to how many calories you burn in a day. too many times however, people mix calories burned in a from metabolic rate with physical activity. Physical activity may increase the burning in calories, but keep in mind, a aerobic workout of 1 solid hour burns only enough calories to maintain current body wait.
- Food Processing (Thermogenesis) Knowing your metabolic rate can help in this arena. Our bodies burn about 10% of the calories we intake from the carbs and proteins we eat. Anything more is being stored as fat. Your physical activity can help combat the stored fat.
Fasting is a growing topic in the health industry much like the topic of metabolism. In fact, now they often say if you fast periodically on a regular basis, you will awake your metabolism and get it going again. However, there are benefits to fasting outside of weight loss.
Fasting is the restriction or elimination of food for a period of time. This can be intermittent with a length of time anywhere from a meal, or a few days, or even just restricting certain foods.
A general fast however, usually can be for a long length of time such as a few days or a week. I have even known people to fast for a month. The goal with these long fasts are usually related to a cleansing or spiritual nature.
Recent studies have even shown that fasting for several days a week could ward off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and bring improved memory and mood. A 2014 study, has also shown fasting to help in the heart health arena by helping cholesterol and reducing risk for weight gain and development of diabetes.
No matter the reason, it is important to realize that no food intake for over a week can be very dangerous to the body and create numerous long term issues. Always consult with an experienced doctor, or better yet, a good nutritionist.
Intermittent fasting is restricting yourself off from any food or beverages (other than water) for a certain amount of time, and then returning back to a normal eating pattern. The purpose of intermittent fasting, other than religious reasons, is to lose weight and/or cleanse the body. Intermittent fasting is known to be one of the healthy ways to do it.
This pattern of eating and not eating is known to help you lose weight, reduce risk to many diseases, and also increase your lifespan. Some experts claim that fasting in this manner will increase ones metabolism, and others argue it can slow your metabolism. We will get into this shortly.
There are two common types of fasting. the 5:2 method and the 16/8 method. The 5:2 diet is when you fast for 2 days a week. The alternate way is the 16/8 method of alternate-day fasting.
I feel the 16/8 way is the most extreme and for the more discipline faster. However, really it is just a matter of personal preference.
Once the desired result is achieved, the person on the fast goes back to their normal eating routine. This length of time is usually a key rather than energy levels or weight.
It could be dangerous using weight and energy as a sign to stop as these can vary from person to person. Over time many experience a healthier feeling from a cleansing of the body achieving lower toxicity levels, increased energy, and/or weight loss.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Burn Fat?
When fasting intermittently, your metabolism immediately responds to the change. Hormones are released that act as messengers to the body that play an important roll in the regulation of your weight.
Therefore, these messengers have a strong influence on your appetite and what food gets stored or burned in the body. Here are some of those types of hormones.
Insulin is one of the most well known and common hormones involved in handling your sugar levels and the burning of fat. It sends the message to the body whether to break down the food into fat or to store it as fat.
For this reason, many diabetics, who suffer from an inability to balance insulin levels, struggle with obesity among other many things that come with chronically high insulin levels.
Human Growth Hormones are an important part in creating fat loss in the body and preserving muscle mass along with other benefits.
Studies reveal an increase in human growth hormones…in fact, men can expect a five-fold increase while fasting.
Norepinephrine increases during fasting. It is a stress hormone that increases alertness and attention which actually has a big role with your “fight or flight” response.
When fasting, a rise in norepinephrine levels hits your bloodstream which tells your body to release fat cells to burn. Keep in mind that the fat burned in this process contains calories. Therefore your small diet or little fast is actually still producing calorie intake.
This explains why in intermittent fasting many experience quick weight loss and a spike in energy levels, and also, why many researchers do not see a decrease in metabolism and sometimes even will even discover a spike. However, this is all short-term.
Where All This Fails
All of this sounds great in the short-run and the benefits are proven with people just starting out with intermittent fasting, but there is another side of this many do not bring to attention. The honeymoon soon will end and the adverse affects will arrive.
During the beginning stage of the fast many experience spikes in energy and rapid weight loss as for reasons described above. However, energy will soon come of short supply and begin to affect your long-term metabolism. This can bring on many physical and psychological defects.
The continuous practice of fasting and feeling hunger for days on end is a dangerous line to walk. You will begin to connect your success to the feeling of hunger. This is an eating disorder waiting to happen.
Many fasters find themselves binge eating instead of just getting back to their normal eating routine which in there guilt causes them to fast more and even longer wanting to make up for the lapse. As you can imagine this is a vicious cycle.
Jenn Stofferahn, Vice President of nutrition at True Fitness and Nutrition in Virginia states, “I have never met anybody ever who’s done intermittent fasting for any significant amount of time and found results in their physique, especially lasting results.”
However, James Clear, a professional weightlifter from Columbus, Ohio (and intermittent faster for four years) believes that with a good nutritionist, intermittent fasting can work for your lifestyle and be healthy. However, even he himself agrees that intermittent fasting has not yielded him any “rapid” changes, but that he is in good health.
The Bottom Line
Does Intermittent Fasting Slow Metabolism? Well…yes and no! Intermittent fasting itself will not cause a decrease in metabolism. In fact, you will usually experience an increase for a short time.
However, the effects of continuously fasting for short periods of time will soon begin to yield less and less results. During which time you could be unknowingly training your body and mind into a psychological and physical struggle leading to a possible eating disorder.
An intermittent fast can be effective and healthy with a good nutritionist. However, will only yield short lived results in many cases. When your time is up and you go back to your regular eating you will just most likely gain it all back and possible even faster than before.
Which ever way you look at it, based on the research and understanding of metabolism and the body, it seems as though intermittent fasting is more of a gimmick than a solution when it comes to your metabolism and burning fat.
Unless for spiritual and cleansing purposes it really will not benefit you much compared to a well balanced and portioned diet. You would most likely get much better results using that “good nutritionist” for an awesome meal plan that for an intermittent fasting regimen.