Obesity and overweight are silent killers and have been identified as the fifth leading risk for deaths, globally. According to the European Association for the Study of Obesity, 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. It has proven to be one of the greatest health challenges of millennials.
Intermittent fasting, also known as intermittent energy restriction, is simply an umbrella term that refers to various meal timing schedules. The concept denotes a popular way to lose weight which usually revolves around voluntarily staying away from food over a given period. Yet, there are people who seem to gain weight no matter how hard they work out or how little their calorie intake.
The puzzling question is – does fasting to lose weight really work? If yes, how? Or are some persons fated to be overweight or obese?
Intermittent fasting: How hard is it to lose weight?
Experts maintain that it is possible to shed on average, 1% to 3% of your body fat per month. However, reality is subject to a wide range of variations. These include age, gender, amount of body fat, muscle mass, and a myriad of hormones that control how your body processes fat.
The challenge in this alchemic endeavor is discipline. An instance stands out for me. My sister once decided on a cucumber challenge’ as a weight-loss strategy. Cucumber contains 95% water and sadly just about 2g of dietary fiber. The ‘challenge’ was meant to cut down her calorie intake while maintaining her water and fiber intake.
Apparently, staying loyal to the cause proved difficult since she prepared the family meals. Despite the constant reminder to keep her from throwing things into her mouth during food preparation, she couldn’t withstand it and eventually succumbed. The lesson from her is that it is okay to fail, but not okay to fail to start again.
Sticking to the routine is paramount; be it exercise, intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet, or little, frequent portions. Our physiologic energy requirements differ. Hence, it is important to understand one’s metabolism for any fitness goal to be achieved. One of such is how insulin stores fat in your body and which foods trigger an insulin response.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to weight management. Decisions should be taken with prior consultation with a specialist to avoid sheer waste of effort and resources.
How did you gain all that weight?
Consuming more calories than required isn’t safe. Like many other medical conditions, obesity is an interplay between the environment and genes.
Let’s assume a scenario where you give your body exactly what it needs, says 2000 calories per day to maintain your current weight. Consequently, you wouldn’t need any rocket science routine to maintain your statuesque.
If the need to shed weight then arises, there are two simple ways to go about it;
- Instead of 2000 calories, you can decide to take in only 1800. As expected, your body would go-ahead to burn 2000 calories (in excess of 200 calories), thereby reducing your initial storage. This can continue until you reach the desired weight goal.
- You can still eat whatever food worth 2,000 calories per day but as an alternative, you can indulge in more exercise to burn calories.
- Men burn 1 900 to 2 500 calories per day, depending on their level of activity.
- Women burn 1 600 to 2 000 calories per day.
As a result, if you consume more energy (calories) than you use, you will definitely gain weight. So, why does our body store the excess instead of discarding it?
The hormone, insulin, helps our body absorb glucose and burn it for energy. It also causes weight gain when the cells absorb too much glucose that ends up being converted into fat. Your body stores this fat within specific fat cells (adipose tissue) either by enlarging fat cells, which are always present in the body or by creating more of them. Some persons, in spite of this, still appear superb.
Why can’t I lose weight?
Besides calorie balance, the reason any weight loss routine might be less effective is genetic. Scientists maintain that over 400 different genes are responsible for being overweight or obese.
Many of these genes directly contribute to this by influencing appetite, satiety – knowing when one is full, metabolism –how our bodies breakdown food, food yearning, distribution of fat-cell around the body, and the tendency to use eating as a way to cope with stress.
These factors vary from person to person. To a large extent, the notion of weight shedding or weight loss is grossly misconstrued.
As a professional dealing with numerous patients, it is common to hear statements such as, ‘I feel light, so why is my weight still 120kg after all the exercise?’.
So many are left in ‘awe’ as I explain to them that it is not a case of how much activity they do daily (passive or active). If they are not consuming the right amount of calories ( according to their physiologic needs), much isn’t going to change about their weight.
While it is easy to assume a false sense of accomplishment after a brisk exercise, the actual impact may just be minimal or at least just good for the heart but not good enough to qualify as a weight loss strategy.
Can Intermittent fasting alone fast track your way to fat loss?
The combination of intermittent fasting and the right kind of diet works fine but not in isolation.
It requires discipline. Each day presents your body with a different dietary challenge. For example, your body will require more energy on the days you go for a hike so consuming a high carb diet may be useful. If in the process of hiking you sustain an injury, your body will require more protein and vitamin-rich diet to help repair itself.
For some, the results from fasting manifest quickly while for others, it may take longer. Consistency is key. Taking ‘before and after’ pictures also help you see the results you feel are nonexistent.
Now, anyone can lose weight if they alter their diet and exercise wittingly. But then again, not all exercise works in the same way. Depending on your goal, you can be rest assured weight training doesn’t provide the results as marathons or squats for hips – yet, they are all termed exercise!
In addition to this, exercise or physical activity is ideal for healthy living but you do not have to increase your activity to the point of exhaustion, just to burn body fat!
Don’t give up!
Without mincing words, intermittent fasting is your best shot. How it works is simply logical. The balance of calories your body stores and burns is tied to your genetic makeup but your level of physical activity (passive or active), and the amount of energy you expend while at rest would gradually make your body burn the desired weight.
It gets a little rusty and uncomfortable in the beginning. Most beginners are likely to feel uncomfortable, but in hindsight, its the best, most affordable, and most effective way to lose weight.
Intermittent fasting is easy and cheap because you do less cooking. You are also less tempted and don’t require calorie-controlled meals, supplements, or shakes. It eliminates many diseases. Fasting properly practiced is one way to allow the body to cleanse and eliminate toxins.
If you want to know more about fasting, please feel free to comment or connect with me on social media. Share what you enjoy doing and when you’re going to make this happen. Contact us