With obesity in the West rising to (and beyond) dangerous levels, putting millions and millions of people at risk for deadly diseases and cutting years off their lives, reasonable, easy to implement weight loss strategies are of the utmost importance.
Think it’s not a big deal?
Take a look at this chart from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and World Health Organization. It shows the number of COVID19 deaths in each country correlated with the percentage of each country’s population that is considered overweight, or a BMI above 25.
The results are striking. The countries with at least 50% of their population having a BMI above 25 lost far, far more people to COVID19 than those who did not.
The obesity-disease-early death connection exists across the spectrum, so combatting obesity might be the most serious health issue plaguing out planet.
But the problem is, losing weight is hard!
If it was so easy, we probably wouldn’t have the issue at all.
Because there is such a great need, that also means that the soil is ripe for marketers and product developers to pitch the next easy, lose weight fast scheme.
Which usually serves to muddy the waters and make the process of maintaining a healthy weight even more confusing.
So I try to look for potential solutions that can be implemented by virtually anybody and at low or no cost.
There should be no barriers to entry when it comes to weight loss, so that is what I search for.
The question is, could intermittent fasting be one of those solutions?
In full disclosure, I have practiced intermittent fasting for a number of years so I will do my best, as always, to look past my personal biases when reporting on it.
With that said, there is some pretty good research in support of it that I would like to bring your attention to.
In this case, researchers out of Canada did the heavy lifting for us and performed a systematic review of 27 trials that examined intermittent fasting’s potential effect on weight loss.
Before we go further, though, let’s define what intermittent fasting is.
What is intermittent fasting?
Most of us will recognize fasting as the practice of going extended periods of time without eating.
Sometimes, fasting can include juices, or juice fasting, or simply no solid food.
Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, includes daily eating within shorter windows of time.
Meaning, you may fast for a few hours or so each day, rather than for a day or days at a time.
It is typically recommended to eat only during a maximum 8-hour window each day. So, if your first meal of the day is at noon, you would not allow yourself to eat anything after 8pm that night.
This is close to what I adhere to on most days.
Many people find this type of fasting is much easier to accomplish, myself included.
You still get to eat every day, and in many cases eat as much as you normally do. You either skip breakfast or those post-dinner nighttime snacks.
It can still be hard, but many of us can at least wrap our heads around it.
Now let’s get back to the study.
Is there evidence intermittent fasting can aid in weight loss?
Published in February 2022 in the journal Canadian Family Physician, the researchers found weight loss of 0.8 to 13.0% with no serious adverse events among the 27 identified trials that addressed weight loss in overweight and obese patients.
Significant weight loss with no serious adverse events using a program that does not cost anyone an additional penny is a very good result in the weight loss world.
So we should all just start intmermittent fasting then, right?
Not so fast, my friends.
And I say that as someone who loves intermittent fasting.
Here are some issues with what we know of the results.
Even though there were 27 trials identified, they were typically pretty small and short in duration. To better see the effects of intermittent fasting on weight loss, more participants of varying health, genetic, age, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds in longer studies that can demonstrate the longer term impact would be very helpful.
Of particular note is the fact that of the 27 studies, only five included patients with type 2 diabetes.
Now, those studies showed favorable results that documented improved glycemic control. However, it is very important to have a very solid idea of how a diet might affect blood sugar in diabetic patients before undertaking it as unsafe drops in blood sugar can be, well, unsafe.
With all of that said, there is plenty of evidence and positive results here to warrant considering intermittent fasting as a potential dietary habit to help aid weight loss, in consultation with your doctor to ensure it is safe for you before beginning.
Is there an easy way to get started with intermittent fasting?
One easy way to get started is to literally ease into it.
When I began intermittent fasting, I started by pushing my first meal of the day back to 10am.
That was a pretty easy adjustment that did not impact me much at all.
From there, I continued pushing it back incrementally.
10:30am, then 11am, so on and so forth.
All until I got to the point where I was eating in an 8-hour window most days and it had become extremely easy for me to do.
Now that does not mean it will be easy for you. Just because it worked for me and is suitable for me does not mean it would be the same for everybody.
But if you are interested and have cleared it with your doctor, this might be an effective way to get into the habit.
I hope this article was helpful for you today. Thanks for being here and be sure to share this with anyone you think might be helped by it!
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