December 6, 2023 4:46 pm

It’s been all over the media and may be one of the most controversial diet trends to emerge in years. Doctors, nutritionists, scientific researchers, and celebrities have touted intermittent fasting, or IF. However, many other fad diets and nutrition trends have received similar acclaim in the past, only to be later exposed as relatively ineffective. Does intermittent fasting really work? Is it dangerous? Is it the proper diet for you? In this article, we will thoroughly discuss intermittent fasting and answer these questions and more. We will also discuss some scientifically proven alternatives to intermittent fasting.

Understanding the Basics: What is Intermittent Fasting?

Before you begin with any significant change in lifestyle, it’s in your best interest to research it from credible sources to the best of your ability. Nowhere is this more important than when making dietary changes. If you have any questions about whether intermittent fasting is right for you, you should consult your physician.

What is Fasting?

Fasting is voluntarily and intentionally abstaining from food and drink to achieve a goal. While this article focuses on the type of intermittent fasting associated with fat reduction and weight loss, fasting is also exercised in connection with religious rites as well as in attempts to achieve altered mental states.

Most health and medical experts — and fortunately, most laypeople — recognize that extended fasting can be unhealthy and counterproductive. That’s why they recommend intermittent fasting, which usually encompasses sleep time.

The Fasting Process

One of the more common forms of intermittent fasting involves periods of up to 12 hours without food. This usually includes the time that you’re asleep. This is easily achievable if you have dinner around 7:00 p.m. and breakfast at 7:00 a.m. Some practitioners fast for longer periods of 12 to 18 hours.

Another type of intermittent fasting involves choosing a pattern of days, like 6-1 or 5-2. For six days, the practitioner eats a full diet and then fasts for one full day. Or five days of eating and two days without food.

The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting: How Does it Promote Weight Loss?

Most people who want to experiment with intermittent fasting want to lose weight or reduce fat without causing adverse health effects. Individuals who are successful at intermittent fasting lead otherwise healthy lifestyles and incorporate some form of exercise into their routines. That means that they’re trying to strike a balance between weight loss and performance, whether that means performance on the job, in athletic endeavors, etc.

Most Americans eat and consume caloric beverages throughout the day. These include meals, snacks, sugary beverages, and alcoholic drinks. The body uses this supply of food to maintain biological functions and to perform work. Because there is such a ready supply of calories, the body does not need to rely on its fat stores. In fact, additional calories that aren’t burned off are converted to fat.

On the other hand, when the glucose levels in the bloodstream fall because the individual has not been ingesting calories, it begins to burn fat stores. Intermittent fasting aims to cut off the supply of glucose to the bloodstream and trigger this fat-burning.

Evidence that Intermittent Fasting Works

If you randomly poll your friends who have tried intermittent fasting, you may find that some of them believe that it helped them lose weight, while others had no success with it. It’s difficult to gauge the success of any dietary plan with anecdotal evidence. Individuals have different eating patterns, metabolisms, and medical profiles. Additionally, genetics, age, and gender may play a substantial role in the success of any weight loss or fat reduction plan.

Six-Hour vs. Four-Hour Intermittent Fasting

However, there have been studies that indicate that there may be weight-loss benefits to intermittent fasting. In one 2020 study, participants were restricted into three groups of obese subjects. One group engaged in a four-hour time-restricted feeding (TRF). In other words, they were only able to eat during a four-hour period from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The second group engaged in a six-hour time-restricted feeding from 1 p.m. to 7:00 p.m, and the third group had no feeding restrictions.

All participant’s intakes were reduced by 550 calories per day over the course of eight weeks. The study concluded that the two groups involved in intermittent fasting experienced “mild reductions in body weight.” In addition to the weight loss, the study groups experienced reductions in insulin resistance and oxidative controls.

Calorie Restrictions With and Without Time Restrictions

However, in a 2022 study exploring calorie restrictions with and without time-restricted feeding, the efficacy of intermittent fasting was less apparent. Researchers took 139 patients with obesity and only allowed them to eat during the eight-hour period of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The study took place over the course of the year. Men were placed on a 1500-1800 calorie-per-day diet, while women were allowed 1200-1500 calories per day.

A control group of men and women had similar calorie restrictions but no time restrictions. The conclusion was that there was no significant difference in weight, body fat, or metabolic calorie restrictions. This study relied heavily on self-monitoring and patient reporting after the 12-month period had elapsed.

While these two studies produced conflicting results, participants did lose weight. It’s just not entirely clear that the weight and fat loss was facilitated by intermittent fasting.

Potential Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss

Most people try intermittent fasting because they want to lose weight. However, there are other perceived benefits to intermittent fasting. It’s important to note that many of these potential benefits may correlate to weight loss, as opposed to the process that achieved the weight loss. In other words, if you have excess fat, a healthy reduction plan is generally advisable.

Regular Metabolic Processes

Some research indicates that intermittent fasting improves metabolic processes.

Reduction of Insulin Resistance

One study involving eight healthy men with an average BMI of 25.7 who participated in a four-hour time-restricted feeding schedule for 14 days showed a reduction in insulin resistance in tissues.

Reduced Cholesterol

Theoretically, the increase in metabolism has an inverse effect on cholesterol levels. With all other factors being equal, a faster metabolism will use lipids instead of storing them. Consequently, the cholesterol levels begin to fall.

Lower Risk of Diabetes 

Intermittent fasting is not necessarily a silver bullet that will eliminate the risk of type 2 diabetes, but it has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity. This is a helpful tool, if not the only preventative someone who is at risk may need.

Reduced Inflammation

Excess fat has been linked to pro-inflammatory cytokines. Additionally, higher blood sugar levels can lead to inflammation. Improved insulin sensitivity can reduce blood sugar, potentially reducing inflammation.

Risks and Concerns: Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Everyone?

As is the case with most diet trends, proponents of intermittent fasting are quick to espouse its benefits. However, many of the claims of intermittent fasting are based on animal studies or human studies that have provided inconclusive evidence. If you are considering intermittent fasting, you should consult your physician and routinely monitor your results. While you may be able to determine whether or not you are losing weight using a scale, intermittent fasting may have effects on your body that are not as easy to detect. Here are some of the possible risks of intermittent fasting:

Nutrient Deficiency

If you are reducing your calorie intake, it’s essential to ensure that you are still getting the nutrients you require. The best way to achieve this is to include plenty of nutrient-rich foods in your diet. You should also consider taking vitamin supplements.

Food Over-Indulgence

Fasting can be difficult for some, and they often make up for it by gorging during their eating periods. You can eat a sizeable number of calories in an eight-hour window if you’re not monitoring your foods. If you’re attempting to lose weight, it’s important to reduce your calorie intake in a responsible way.

Fatigue and Physical Weakness

Calories are energy, and it’s common to experience fatigue, especially as your fasting period is about to elapse. If you participate in regular exercise, your performance may decrease.

Do Not Fast During Pregnancy or While Nursing

Intermittent fasting is not recommended for pregnant women or mothers who are nursing. If you believe that you need to reduce your weight during or after pregnancy, speak to your doctor.

Mood Swings

Significant changes in eating habits can affect your mood, particularly at the end of your fasting period when you’re the hungriest.

Even if intermittent fasting is working for you, you may require food during your fasting period for a variety of reasons. Do not jeopardize your physical or mental well-being just to stick to the schedule you’ve planned on keeping. If your doctor has recommended intermittent fasting for you and you’re experiencing adverse effects, contact them immediately to report what’s happening.

Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting

There has been extensive research on intermittent fasting. The following represents some of the pluses and minuses of this dietary trend.

Pros of Intermittent Fasting

  • Effective – While the evidence that intermittent fasting and calorie reduction are more effective than calorie reduction is a matter of debate, it is often an easier way for participants to reduce their calorie intake.
  • Easy Implementation – Although intermittent fasting can be difficult, it’s easy to understand. Additionally, there are numerous apps to help track fasting periods and calorie intake during eating windows.
  • Additional Health Benefits – As was previously mentioned, many of the health benefits could be attributed to weight loss, but studies indicate that intermittent fasting can improve metabolism, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and cholesterol levels.
  • Flexibility – There are several common fasting diets, and numerous that have not gained as much popularity. Most people who are interested in pursuing intermittent fasting can find one that suits their lifestyles.
  • Convenience – Not adhering to a three-meal-per-day regimen can be freeing. Instead of planning for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you only have to plan one or two meals.

Cons of Intermittent Fasting 

  • Hunger – Chances are you’re going to be extremely hungry at the end of your fast. This can make sticking to the diet difficult.
  • Overeating – Many practitioners simply eat way too much during their eating windows.
  • Social Inconvenience – Because most people aren’t intermittent fasting, they can make plans that are not convenient to your schedule — particularly if you’re on one of the more rigorous time-restricted feeding schedules.
  • Overdoing It – Some individuals may push their diet to the point where it’s dangerous. Always consult a physician who can routinely monitor your vital statistics and bloodwork.

Real-life Testimonials: Success Stories and Challenges Faced 

Many celebrities with aspirational bodies have claimed to owe part of their success to intermittent fasting. Here are a few famous proponents of IF.

Gisele Bündchen – The supermodel claims to follow a 5:2 intermittent fasting schedule where she eats normally for five days and then limits herself to 500 to 600 calories on the two fasting days.

Halle Berry – The famous actress revealed via an Instagram post that she doesn’t have her first meal of the day until 2:00 p.m.

Vanessa Hudgens – In a 2019 interview, Ms. Hudgens announced that she has been using the 16-8 intermittent fasting schedule, limiting her meals to an eight-hour period. Hugh Jackman and Mindy Kaling are also proponents of this regimen.

Laser Lipolysis and How it Works

Many people who participate in intermittent fasting have a similar goal: to lose weight and/or reduce fat. These two terms are often conflated, but they’re slightly different concepts. Losing weight actually means reducing pounds, but what most people want to do is reduce fat on their bodies.

While diet and exercise can help reduce weight and trim fat, they often fail to result in the sculpted, defined physique that is often the goal. Emerald Laser lipolysis is an effective, FDA-approved cold fat removal treatment that can help remove fat from the body. Here’s how it works. A technician targets the fat cells in a specific region of the body with ten 532-nanometer cool lasers. These lasers painlessly bore microscopic holes in the walls of fat cells while simultaneously emulsifying the lipids (fats) inside the cells. The liquified fats then seep out through the pores created by the lasers, where they are safely disposed of by the body’s lymphatic system. Here are the advantages:

  • Proven Effective – Emerald Laser was proven effective with no known side effects in three double-blind studies. It’s also the only laser fat removal system on the market recommended for individuals with a BMI over 30.
  • Non-Invasive – Laser lipolysis is a non-surgical procedure that does not require anesthesia. There is no downtime, and patients can resume full activities immediately after each session.
  • Fast and Convenient – Each session only takes 30 minutes. You can schedule an appointment before or after work or during your lunch break.
  • Quick Results – Patients see some improvement within two weeks and full results within 12.

Laser Fat Removal Compared to Intermittent Fasting

Laser lipolysis and intermittent fasting are vastly different approaches to fat reduction. While both are effective in their own right, they work on different principles.

Intermittent fasting works by reducing blood glucose levels, causing the body to burn its own fat for energy. As was described in the previous section, laser fat removal works by melting stubborn fat deposits and allowing them to drain from the body. It’s important to keep in mind that both of these approaches can work together. In fact, Emerald Laser recommends a calorie-neutral diet for patients who wish to maintain their fat losses. There are a few differences when it comes to results, though. Laser lipolysis targets specific pockets of fat, while intermittent fasting is for overall fat reduction via weight loss.

Additionally, while intermittent fasting takes a certain degree of discipline, laser fat removal only requires showing up for appointments. Many Emerald Laser patients participate in intermittent fasting, even if they have successfully lost weight using IF.

Frequently Asked Questions About Intermittent Fasting and Other Weight Loss Techniques

The following are some of the most common questions patients ask about fasting and weight loss. If you have any questions regarding either, contact your primary physician or a specialist.

What Are Some of the Most Common Intermittent Fasting Plans?

Some of the more popular intermittent fasting plans include the following:

  • 5:2 Diet – This involves eating normally (not excessively) for five days and a reduced calorie count of 500 to 600 calories for two days.
  • Alternate-day Fasting – This is a one-day-on, one-day-off approach to intermittent fasting. It works similarly to the 5:2 diet, but fasting and normal days alternate.
  • Time-restricted Fasting – This popular form of fasting involves allowing a daily eating window. The practitioner chooses a period of time, like 16 hours, and eats within the remaining eight.

There are multiple variations of each plan, so if these seem extreme, consider talking to a nutritionist or doctor about modifications.

Is it Safe to Fast While Doing Laser Lipolysis?

Providing that you are in good health and not experiencing symptoms of fatigue, malnutrition, or some other fasting-related issue, laser lipolysis is safe. If you have any concerns about side effects related to fasting, consult your physician.

Can I Exercise While Fasting?

It’s important that you don’t deplete your body of nutrients if you regularly exercise. Examine your net calories: your caloric intake minus your resting caloric burn minus the calories you burn during exercise. So, for instance, if you consume 1,800 calories on a given day, and your body naturally burns 2,000, your net calories would be -200. If you also burn 300 while riding your bike, your net calories fall to -500. If you continue at this pace, you’ll lose weight.

How Do I Find Laser Lipolysis Near Me?

There are dozens of Emerald Laser providers all over the globe. If you are interested in a free consultation with a specialist, contact an Emerald Laser center today!