Fasting journal

Fasting for Fast Weight Loss Results

Fasting, particularly intermittent fasting (IF), has gained popularity for its potential health benefits. By alternating periods of eating and fasting, intermittent fasting can improve metabolic health, enhance insulin sensitivity, and promote weight loss. This article will delve into various IF methods, their benefits, and how to implement them into your lifestyle.

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. Unlike traditional diets that focus on what to eat, IF emphasises when you eat. This eating pattern can help you lose weight, improve your metabolic health, and even extend your lifespan. The flexibility and simplicity of intermittent fasting make it a popular choice for many people seeking a sustainable approach to health and wellness.

Popular Intermittent Fasting Methods

Time-Restricted Eating (TRE)

Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) requires fasting for a specific number of hours each day and aligning eating periods with your natural circadian rhythm. This method is flexible and can be gradually adjusted to fit individual preferences and goals. By starting with a more manageable fasting window and gradually increasing the fasting period, TRE can be seamlessly incorporated into your lifestyle.

Starting with a 12-Hour Fast/12-Hour Eating Window

For those new to this way of eating, beginning with a 12-hour fast and a 12-hour eating window is a gentle introduction. This approach requires fasting for 12 hours, most of which you will be asleep, making it easier. You will then be eating during the remaining 12 hours.

To illustrate 12-hour fasting, if you finish eating your evening meal around 7 p.m., you will not eat again until 7 a.m. the next morning. This simple adjustment aligns with natural mealtimes and allows your body to get used to a fasting routine without significant disruption to daily habits. The initial way of fasting has the benefit that it helps your body adjust to longer periods without food. Also, leaving a few hours between eating and going to bed can improve your digestion. Just remember that you won’t be indulging in any late-night snacking, which often leads to weight gain.

Progressing to a 14-Hour Fast/10-Hour Eating Window

After a few weeks of maintaining a 12-hour fasting window, you can extend the fasting period to 14 hours with a 10-hour eating window. In other words, instead of eating within a 12-hour period, you reduce it by a couple of hours to 10 hours. Therefore, after you have had your 7 p.m. evening meal, you will not eat again until 9 a.m. the next morning. This slight extension continues to train your body to rely on stored energy between meals and also reduces opportunities for unnecessary snacking. You may find it easier to eat your evening meal at 6 p.m. and have breakfast at 8 a.m., especially if you have to go out to work.

A 14-hour fast can enhance the metabolic benefits of fasting, such as improved insulin sensitivity and more efficient fat burning. A 14-hour fast is more manageable for beginners, making it easier to maintain long-term compared to longer fasting periods. It also aligns well with natural eating patterns and sleep cycles.

Moving to a 16-Hour Fast/8-Hour Eating Window (16/8 Method)

Once comfortable with a 14-hour fast, you can progress to the popular 16/8 method. This calls for not eating anything for 16 hours and then eating across the remaining 8 hours.

For example, if you eat dinner at 7 p.m., once you have finished your meal, you will not eat again until 11 a.m. the next morning. Many people find this method convenient and relatively easy, as it typically just involves skipping breakfast and eating lunch and dinner within the 8-hour window.

The 16/8 method helps reduce calorie intake by limiting eating hours, and can significantly improve metabolic health, support weight loss, and enhance fat-burning. The 16/8 method is often more sustainable and easier to integrate into daily routines compared to more restrictive fasting methods. Additionally, it helps maintain consistent energy levels and mental clarity throughout the day, making it a practical choice for many people.

Advancing to an 18-Hour Fast/6-Hour Eating Window

Once you have successfully embedded the 16/8 method into your life, you might like to try extending the fasting period, either long-term or now and again. The next step is to extend the fasting period to 18 hours with a 6-hour eating window can be the next step and can have more pronounced benefits. This is because fasting for longer periods can accelerate fat loss by extending the time the body spends in a fasted state, during which it primarily burns fat for energy. Extended fasting periods increase the duration of lipolysis (fat breakdown) and ketogenesis (the production of ketones from fat), boosting the efficiency of the body to use stored fat as fuel for energy.

This method of fasting also involves skipping breakfast, but you can have lunch at 1 p.m. if you had dinner at 7 p.m. the evening before. This compels the body to rely more on fat stores for energy. An 18-hour fast can also trigger autophagy (the body’s process of cleaning out damaged cells), improve insulin sensitivity, and boost fat loss.

20-Hour Fast/4-Hour Eating Window

For those looking for a more intense fasting regimen, the 4-hour window restricts eating to just four hours a day, resulting in a 20-hour fast. This extended fasting period can enhance fat burning and improve insulin sensitivity more significantly than shorter fasting periods. This pushes the first meal of the day back to 3 p.m. This longer fasting period maximises the time your body spends in the fasted state, enhancing fat burning and metabolic health, and you may feel the benefit of enhanced mental clarity and focus too. However, it is worth weighing up the pros and cons of the health benefits over the convenience and manageability of a longer fasting protocol.

Alternate-day Fasting

Alternate-day fasting involves alternating between days of normal eating and days of fasting. On full-fast days, you abstain from food completely, and no calories pass your lips. This allows your body to enter a deeper fasted state. It boosts fat burning and autophagy, and as far as sustainability is concerned, just keep reminding yourself that you can eat again tomorrow. It is only one day!

One Meal a Day (OMAD)

Finally, there is the OMAD fasting protocol, which involves eating just one meal per day, typically within a one-hour window, resulting in a 23-hour fast. This method can lead to rapid weight loss and significant metabolic improvements due to the prolonged fasting period. It also simplifies meal planning and reduces the temptation to snack throughout the day. The long fasting period can also potentially increase longevity.

You do need to be aware that OMAD can be challenging to maintain, especially for beginners. It is best to build up to this way of fasting, and maybe just do it one day a month. Because you only eat one meal, make that meal count and include nutrient-dense whole foods to keep your energy levels up and provide a diversity of necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet isn’t strictly fasting, but has become a popular, manageable diet. It involves eating normally for five days of the week and restricting calorie intake to 500-600 calories on the remaining two days. This approach offers flexibility, allowing you to choose which days of the week to fast based on your schedule. The moderate calorie restriction on fasting days can still provide significant health benefits without the intensity of longer fasts.

The 5:2 diet is also more sustainable long-term compared to more restrictive fasting methods. It allows for normal social eating on most days while still incorporating the benefits of intermittent fasting. Choose two days as your fasting days, when you are more likely to be relaxed and are not tied to a strict schedule. It is often better to choose separate days rather than consecutive ones to make it even more convenient and achievable.

Extended Fasts

Fasting for 36, 48, or even 72 hours can provide even better health benefits, including enhanced autophagy, improved insulin sensitivity, and significant reductions in inflammation. However, extended fasting should be approached with caution and, ideally, under medical supervision.

Tips for Success

Remember to stay hydrated when fastingStay Hydrated

It is really important to stay hydrated when you are fasting, as it helps maintain all your bodily functions, supports metabolism, and controls hunger. After all, you can survive for weeks without food, but only a few days without water.

To stay hydrated, drink plenty of water, herbal teas, and black coffee. Avoid sugary drinks and so-called diet drinks that contain artificial sweeteners, as they can break your fast and cause insulin spikes. A great tip is to carry a water bottle with you as a reminder to drink regularly throughout the day. You can also try adding a pinch of Himalayan salt to your water. This can help replenish electrolytes, especially during longer fasts.

Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods

It is vital that you eat plenty of nutrient-dense whole foods to make sure that your body gets all the essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that it needs to function well and stay healthy.

Focus on whole foods such as vegetables, especially leafy greens; fruits, lean chicken, fish, and tofu; quinoa, brown rice, beans, legumes, and lentils; and avocado, olive oil, seeds, and nuts.

A great tip is to plan and prepare your meals in advance. This helps to avoid the temptation to make unhealthy choices. Make sure that you eat a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables to include a broad spectrum of nutrients. Batch cooking is another strategy to save time and reduce the stress of deciding what to eat each day.

Listen to Your Body

When fasting, it is a good idea to get used to paying attention to how your body responds. This helps you tailor your approach to suit your individual needs and make sure it is sustainable. Notice how you feel during and after fasting periods; be aware of signs of fatigue, irritability, and dizziness.

A way to monitor this is to keep a journal to track your energy levels, mood, and any physical symptoms. This can help you identify patterns and make the necessary adjustments.

Start Gradually

It is human nature to want to go “all in,” but it is sound advice to begin with a shorter fast. Starting slowly and gradually allows your body to adapt to fasting and reduces the risk of negative side effects. Begin with the 12/12 method (12 hours fasting, 12 hours eating) and gradually increase to 14/10, 16/8, and so on.

You could maybe even start with the 5:2 method as a great way to ease yourself into the protocol. Gradual progression also makes it easier to identify and address any issues early on.

Avoid Overeating

Overeating during the eating window can negate the benefits of time-restricted eating, especially if you are looking to lose weight or improve insulin sensitivity. Practice portion control, eat slowly, and be mindful of your hunger cues. Choose smaller, balanced meals over large, calorie-dense ones. If you struggle with portion size, try using smaller plates. Prioritise proteins and fibre-rich foods, which keep you feeling fuller for longer and prevent overeating.

Stay Active

Regular physical activity can increase the benefits of IF, including weight loss and improved metabolic health.

Incorporate both cardio and strength training exercises into your routine and adjust the intensity of your workout intensity based on how you feel. Fasted cardio (exercise on an empty stomach) can increase fat burning. However, do listen to your body and make sure you’re not overexerting yourself.

Stay Consistent

Consistency is key to seeing the benefits of intermittent fasting. Regular practice helps your body adapt and optimise metabolic processes. Choose a fasting schedule that fits your lifestyle and is sustainable long-term. A great tip is to set reminders or use apps designed to help track fasting periods and eating windows, making it easier to maintain consistency.

By following these tips and gradually incorporating intermittent fasting into your routine, you can maximise its health benefits while ensuring it remains a sustainable and enjoyable practice.

Health Benefits

Improved Insulin Sensitivity and Reduced Insulin Resistance

One of the most significant benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) is improved insulin sensitivity. This improvement is crucial because insulin sensitivity plays a vital role in how effectively our bodies use glucose (sugar) for energy. Understanding the mechanisms behind this can provide deeper insights into why intermittent fasting is beneficial for metabolic health.

Understanding Insulin and Insulin Sensitivity

The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that enables cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream for energy or to store it as glycogen in the liver and muscles.

Insulin sensitivity refers to how responsive the body’s cells are to insulin’s effects. When insulin sensitivity is high, cells readily respond to insulin, allowing glucose to enter the cells efficiently, which maintains normal blood sugar levels.

Insulin resistance occurs when cells in the body become less responsive to insulin. As a result, higher levels of insulin are needed to keep blood glucose levels in check. Over time, this can lead to higher insulin production, elevated blood sugar levels, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

How Intermittent Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Reduction in Insulin Levels

During fasting periods, insulin levels naturally decrease because there is no food intake to trigger the production of this fat-storing hormone. Lower insulin levels signal the body to switch from using glucose as the primary energy source to using stored fat.

Lower insulin levels reduce the likelihood of developing insulin resistance and, in turn, type 2 diabetes. Persistently high insulin levels, often caused by frequent eating, especially of carbohydrate-rich foods, can desensitise insulin receptors on cells, known as insulin resistance.

Enhancement of Insulin Receptor Function

Fasting periods enable insulin receptors on cell surfaces to reset, becoming more sensitive to the hormone, which improves their functionality. This means that lower amounts of insulin are required to manage blood glucose levels, reducing the overall demand on the pancreas and reducing the risk of insulin resistance.

Reduction in Visceral Fat

Fasting promotes the burning of fat stores for energy. Visceral fat, which surrounds internal organs, contributes to insulin resistance when present in excess. By reducing visceral fat, intermittent fasting helps lower inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity. Visceral fat, is very active and releases substances that cause inflammation. This inflammation can interfere with how well your body uses insulin, making it harder to control blood sugar levels.

Improvement in Autophagy and Cellular Repair

Fasting triggers autophagy, a process where cells clean out damaged components and recycle them. This cellular housekeeping not only boosts the functionality of insulin receptors but also improves overall cellular health, reduces damaging oxidative stress, increases longevity, and helps us protect against disease, viruses, and even cancer.

Impact on Hormonal Regulation

Intermittent fasting affects the production and release of various hormones involved in metabolism, such as adiponectin, ghrelin, and leptin. Adiponectin increases insulin sensitivity, ghrelin controls appetite, while leptin helps regulate hunger, energy balance, and fat storage. Optimising the levels of these hormones is another way that intermittent fasting reduces overeating and supports better insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism, and efficient fat utilisation. This hormonal balance is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing metabolic disorders.

Fasting helps reduce inflammation in the bodyDecrease in Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a key driver of insulin resistance and weight gain. Fasting reduces levels of pro-inflammatory substances known as cytokines as well as oxidative stress, thereby lowering inflammation and mitigating its negative effects on metabolic functions.

Lower inflammation levels improve insulin sensitivity, enhance cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Enhanced Metabolic Health through Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) has been shown to improve metabolic health by promoting weight loss, reducing high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, and optimising various metabolic functions. Understanding how intermittent fasting influences these factors provides a comprehensive view of its benefits.

How Intermittent Fasting Improves Metabolic Health

Promotion of Fat Loss

During fasting periods, your body uses up its glycogen stores, which signals your body to start burning fat for energy. This fat-burning process, known as lipolysis, breaks down stored triglycerides into free fatty acids and glycerol, which are then used for energy. By promoting fat loss, especially visceral fat around the organs, intermittent fasting reduces the risk of metabolic diseases. These include type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Visceral fat is particularly harmful because it is metabolically active and contributes to insulin resistance and inflammation. Luckily, when glucose levels are low it is the first type of fat to be broken down and used for energy.

Reduction in High Blood Pressure

Intermittent fasting can lower blood pressure, although the mechanism is not yet known. However, lowering blood pressure reduces the workload on the heart and decreases the pressure exerted on the arterial walls. This has the overall benefit of reducing the risk of complications related to hypertension (high blood pressure), such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage. Improved vascular health also enhances overall cardiovascular function.

Improvement in Cholesterol Levels

Fasting impacts lipid metabolism, leading to reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. The body uses stored fat for energy during fasting, which can improve lipid profiles.

Improved cholesterol levels decrease the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. A healthier lipid profile also improves cardiovascular health outcomes.

Fasting helps boost mitochondriaBoosted Metabolism

Fasting increases the production of norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline), a hormone that boosts metabolism by stimulating the breakdown of fat. Fasting can also increase the development, growth, and multiplication of mitochondria. Having plenty of healthy, efficient mitochondria enhances the energy-producing capacity of cells, metabolic function, and longevity.

A higher metabolic rate helps the body burn calories more efficiently, contributing to weight loss and preventing metabolic slowdowns often associated with calorie-restrictive diets.

Practical Implications of Intermittent Fasting for Metabolic Health

Consistent Fasting Schedule

Establishing a regular fasting schedule, such as the 16/8 protocol, can provide a routine that supports metabolic health. Consistency helps the body adapt to fasting periods and maximises the benefits.

Balanced Diet During Eating Windows

Consuming nutrient-dense, balanced meals during eating windows ensures that the body receives essential nutrients while avoiding excessive calorie intake. This supports overall metabolic health and prevents nutritional deficiencies.

Physical Activity

Combining intermittent fasting with regular physical activity can enhance metabolic benefits. Exercise increases energy expenditure, promotes fat loss, and further improves insulin sensitivity.


Staying hydrated during fasting periods is crucial for maintaining metabolic functions and overall health. Water, fruit and herbal teas, and black coffee are good options to stay hydrated without breaking your fast.

Monitoring Health Markers

Regularly monitoring health markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar can help track the impact of intermittent fasting on metabolic health. Adjustments to the fasting regimen can be made based on these indicators.

Reduced Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

Fasting helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation, which is linked to various health issues, including heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. By lowering oxidative stress, intermittent fasting supports overall health and longevity.

Implementing an Intermittent Fasting Plan

Choosing the Right Type of Fasting

Selecting the best intermittent fasting plan depends on your lifestyle, health goals, and personal preferences. Time-restricted eating, such as the 16/8 protocol, is a popular starting point due to its flexibility. For those seeking more significant benefits, longer fasts or the OMAD diet might be more suitable.

Incorporating Healthy Foods

Eat nutrient dense foods while fastingWhile intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat, what you eat is just as important. Eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables and healthy fats during your eating window ensures you get essential vitamins, and minerals. Remember to include plenty of fresh fruits, whole grains, and lean protein too.

Balancing Smaller Meals and Calorie Restriction

Even though you are fasting, it’s beneficial to eat smaller meals and consider the calories in those meals. Overindulging during your eating window can thwart your efforts and the benefits of fasting. This means avoiding processed foods and high-sugar snacks.

Intermittent fasting offers a flexible approach to improving health, from enhancing insulin sensitivity and metabolic health to reducing oxidative stress and promoting fat burning. By choosing a suitable type of intermittent fasting and incorporating healthy foods, you can reap the myriad benefits of this eating pattern. Whether you opt for a 16/8 plan, alternate-day fasting, or the OMAD diet, intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool for achieving better health and well-being.

The difference between intermittent fasting and eating a low calorie diet

Intermittent fasting and a low-calorie diet are two distinct approaches to weight management, each with unique implications for metabolism and overall health. A low-calorie diet involves consistently consuming fewer calories than the body needs. This leads to an energy deficit that helps to promote weight loss. However, this approach can trigger the body’s survival mechanisms, including the down-regulation of thyroid hormones, which are crucial for maintaining metabolic rate.

As the metabolism slows, the body becomes more efficient at conserving energy, making weight loss progressively harder and often leading to weight gain when you start eating normally again. This adaptive response, often referred to as “metabolic adaptation” or “starvation mode,” underscores the challenge of sustaining long-term weight loss through calorie restriction alone.

In contrast, intermittent fasting focuses on the timing of food intake rather than reducing calorie consumption. It involves eating within a specific time window, such as an 8-hour period, and fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day. This allows the body time to digest and metabolise food, and facilitate the breakdown of the enzymes and hormones involved in digestion. During the fasting period, when the digestive system is empty, the body can then shift to utilising stored fat for energy through a process called lipolysis. This process is biologically expensive and is only initiated when there is no food readily available in the digestive system to use as energy.

Therefore, intermittent fasting can promote fat loss by encouraging and getting the body more adapted to tapping into its fat reserves, particularly in areas like the hips, bum, and tummy, without the negative metabolic effects associated with continuous calorie restriction. This method can support weight management while maintaining a healthier metabolic rate, offering a much more sustainable approach to achieving and maintaining weight loss.


The Beneficial and Adverse Effects of Autophagic Response to Caloric Restriction and Fasting 

Autophagy: cellular and molecular mechanisms 

Safety, health improvement and well-being during a 4 to 21-day fasting period in an observational study including 1422 subjects 

Impact of Intermittent Fasting on Lipid Profile–A Quasi-Randomized Clinical Trial 

Intermittent Fasting & Mitochondria