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Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss – Do’s and Don’ts

If you are about to begin a weight loss program, there is a very good chance that it involves eating less.  When “eating less” involves skipping one or more meals, then we say that you are following a “fasting” strategy. The most popular of the fasting techniques is “intermittent fasting” which involves skipping meals on one or more days per week.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss is a very popular option that can be effective depending on how you manage it.  Here are a few do’s and don’ts for those who are considering using fasting as a method of weight loss.  

Do: Speak to your doctor before embarking on a fasting diet.

Check with your doctor before beginning a fasting program.  This is because while not eating at regular intervals, or intermittent fasting, can be effective, this approach to weight loss is not for everyone. Women who are pregnant, children and teenagers as well as people with diabetes and blood sugar problems, anemia and a number of other chronic conditions should not consider fasting as a weight loss option.    Your doctor will be able to let you know if fasting is a viable option for you based on your overall health.

Don’t: Eat badly when you are not fasting.

Be sure to eat healthily when you are not fasting.  Your body will benefit the most when you combine intermittent fasting with eating fresh, low-calorie foods and regular portion sizes.  Going for a lot of fast food, high-fat, high-sugar and high-calorie food and drink or monster portion sizes can quickly eliminate all the benefits of fasting in the first place.

Do: Include fasting as part of a comprehensive weight loss plan.

To achieve optimal success, dieters using fasting as a weight loss tool can consider it as part of a program that includes a way to measure success, implements lifestyle interventions, includes meal replacement plans and, for some people, may even include prescription weight loss medications.   

“Intermittent fasting for weight loss is a very popular option that can be effective depending on how you manage it.“

Don’t: Over do it.

An effective fasting strategy involves fasting intermittently.  Depending on the individual, this might mean going for hours without eating a few days a week.  Doing more than the recommended amount of fasting time could backfire: your body may start to store more fat as an emergency response to starvation. Give yourself some time to settle into an intermittant fasting protol as it takes a week or two to get accostomed to a new eating pattern. All the while, listen to your body. Pay attention to how you feel while following the specific protocol you have chosen. Watch out for feeling faint from going too long without eating while practicing intermittent fasting. Feeling faint can be a warning sign that the body needs to re-evaluate the fasting protocol being followed. Working with a doctor with expertise in weight loss and obesity medicine would be another way to know how much fasting is healthy and effective for you as an individual. If intermittent fasting ends up not being for you, it is important to acknowledge that it may not be a good fit and consider exploring other options that align better with your body’s needs and signals.

Do: Research your options

There are a number of different intermittent fasting protocols and it may take some digging and experimentation to find the right approach for you. The most popular intermittent fasting protocols include

  1. Fasting for 12 hours each day, during week days and eating regularly in the weekends
  2. Fasting for 12 hours each day, every day
  3. Fasting for 16 hours a day, leaving an eating window of 8 hours. This is sometimes called the “16:8 Method” or the “Leangains diet”.
  4. Fasting for 2 days per week. You can still eat on those two days, just restrict calories to the equivalent of one smaller meals on those days, around 600 calories.
  5. Alternate day fasting. You eat regulary on one day and fast on the next. Many choose to eat a small meal on the fasting day and some do not eat any solid food at all.
  6. Fasting for one 24 hour period each week. May be a full day, or a period from breakfast to breakfast or dinner to dinner, etc

Other variations and fasting/eating ratios exist. All adherents can benefit from drinking more water than usual during fasting periods and getting adequate rest.

Don’t: Attempt a “cold turkey” approach

Research shows that transitioning into intermittent fasting is best approached gradually and thoughtfully. It’s essential to plan ahead and thoroughly research various intermittent fasting methods before diving in. A recommended strategy is to start slowly, perhaps by initially trying a less strict protocol like the 16/8 approach for a few days a week instead of every day. Another suggestion is to ease into fasting by beginning with shorter fasting periods, such as fasting for 12 hours initially, then gradually extending the fasting window to reach 16 hours over time. This gradual transition allows your body to adjust more comfortably to the intermittent fasting routine while minimizing potential stress or negative impacts on your overall well-being.

Do: Maintain intermittent fasting as a lifestyle in the long term.

Once your body is accustomed to intermittent fasting and you have decided that this format of diet is for you, you may very well benefit from keeping it up for the long term. Maintaining your fasting habits indefinitely can help you keep weight off in the long term.  After all, for much of history, humankind lived with intermittent fasting and there is a growing body of evidence that eating less than the standard American three meals a day is healthier for you. Intermittent fasting may help you to manage a number of chronic diseases and inflammation as well as make you feel more energized and mentally sharper.

Don’t: Attempt it alone.

Managing weight loss can be complex.  This is especially true if you are obese (BMI more than 30) or overweight (BMI more 26) with chronic conditions such as diabetes or COPD. To protect your health and for best results, it is highly recommended that you work with an doctor with expertise in weight loss and obesity medicine as you plan and execute your weight loss strategy.   

Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center

Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center’s program is proven scientific medical weight loss. The program features both in-person and telehealth plans to meet your needs.

You take control of your weight loss goals with a specialized plan that is tailored to your physique, lifestyle and food preferences. We serve adolescents, adults and families alike with full medical consultations, goal setting, individualized programs to fit your health status and needs. Dr. Amir is a Cleveland Clinic Trained and Board Certified Obesity/Weight Physician with advanced training from Harvard and Cornell Obesity programs with 18 years of general medical experience.

If you are looking for a program that can be tailored to you and is based on medical science, then contact Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center today for a first consultation.

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