Even with weight loss clinics readily available, calorie counts on menus, and public policy initiatives aimed at supporting a healthier population, people are struggling to lose weight and keep it off. Of the 45 million Americans dieting each year, 80 to 90 percent of them will regain all their weight (1). The repeated cycle of weight loss and regain shows that the simple remedy of eating healthier and exercising regularly isn’t working.
A new solution is needed to help people achieve a healthy weight and maintain it. Mounting scientific evidence for intermittent fasting as an effective tool for weight loss and maintenance may be the solution for preventing repeated cycles of dieting. Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that involves going without food for several hours or up to a couple days. And it can become a lifelong habit.
Cleansing with Isagenix includes a specific form of intermittent fasting because cleansers drink the detox-supporting beverage, Cleanse for Life. Not only are cleansers benefiting from intermittent fasting, but they are also supporting their body nutritionally to rid itself of impurities. Cleanse for Life provides nutritional support in the form of antioxidant vitamins and botanicals, which are essential for effective detoxification. Additionally, nutritional support is needed to counteract the oxidative damage caused by toxins.
Studies on intermittent fasting have shown that it’s as effective for weight loss as cutting calories (2). In one study, overweight women who fasted intermittently for six months lost more weight than women who restricted their calories each day (3).
Improves insulin sensitivity
How intermittent fasting works to support weight loss and maintenance is multifaceted. One of the ways intermittent fasting helps is through improving how well insulin ushers glucose from the blood (after eating food) into cells where it is used for energy. It’s an important part of healthy weight management. Similar to how drinking coffee habitually can dull the response to caffeine, an excess of carbohydrate intake can decrease sensitivity to insulin. When people are less sensitive to insulin, they cannot efficiently use the food they eat leading to a cascade of health issues including fatigue and increased hunger—two culprits in weight gain.
Insulin sensitivity is “reset” by fasting. Healthy men who fasted for 20 hours every other day for 15 days had increased rates of glucose uptake, signifying improved insulin sensitivity and better blood sugar control (4). With insulin sensitivity becoming an increasingly common issue among aging adults (5), intermittent fasting may be especially effective for older adults with weight loss goals.
Resets calorie intake
Although it seems counter-intuitive, evidence suggests that when intermittent fasting becomes a lifestyle, less food is commonly consumed during normal calorie days. A study with overweight adults found that they consumed only 20 percent of their normal calorie intake on alternate days (6).
The exact mechanism has not been identified; however, some theories suggest alterations in calorie intake could be due to shrinking of the stomach causing people to become full faster. Another theory suggests that relying on fat for fuel during fasting can up-regulate or down-regulate certain enzymes involved in metabolism affecting appetite regulation. More research is needed, but there’s no denying the benefits of calorie control for weight loss.
One of the biggest issues with fad diets is that people cannot adhere to them long-term. They are usually restrictive, can leave people feeling sluggish and tired, and often cause muscle loss. The key to weight loss and maintenance is a diet plan that fits into your lifestyle.
There are various definitions of intermittent fasting and it’s up to the individual to choose what works best for her or him. And while it may seem daunting at first, studies show that satisfaction during fasting increases with time (7).
Maintain muscles mass
Muscle is a very greedy tissue. It requires a lot of calories just to exist and puts the body to work resulting in a higher metabolism. For that reason, muscle is an important player in weight loss. Because fasting requires a period of time without significant food intake (including protein), some fear that it would cause muscle loss. While long periods of fasting will cause the body to turn to muscle for energy, short periods (24 to 48 hours) are not going to result in significant muscle loss.
A study with 16 obese subjects who incorporated alternate day fasting had an average weight loss of 12 pounds with 99% coming from fat (8). That’s a very different outcome than on most diets—on average, typical dieters shed about 75 percent of weight as fat and 25 percent as muscle, leading to a decreased metabolism and greater risk of weight regain.
Keep weight off for good
Any diet can help you lose weight, but many times it’s at the expense of muscle mass. And once normal eating patterns resume, weight comes back on quickly.
Researchers have evaluated weight patterns for the average dieter. The key is to make a dietary changes that can be maintained for the long-term and support muscle mass. Because there are many ways to do intermittent fasting, it can be integrated into any lifestyle to support weight maintenance.
Cleanse Days, or intermittent fasting days, however, are just another tool in the weight-management toolbox. Combined with a healthy diet including “Shake Days,” regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress-relieving practices like meditation, and they can lead to long-term weight maintenance.
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- Kramer FM, Jeffery RW, Forester JL, et al. Long-term follow-up of behavioral treatment for obesity: patterns of weight regain among men and women. Int J Obes, 1989:13(2):123-36.
- Eshghinia S, Mohammadzadeh F. The effects of modified alternate-day fasting diet on weight loss and CAD risk factors in overweight and obese women. J Diabetes Metab Disord 2013;12:4.
- Harvie MN, Pegington M, Mattson MP et al. The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomized trial in young overweight women. Int J Obes (Lond) 2011;35:714-27.
- Halberg N, Henriksen M, Soderhamn N et al. Effect of intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men. J Appl Physiol 2005;99:2128-36.
- Viljoen A, Sinclair AJ. Diabetes and insulin resistance in older people. Med Clin North Am, 2011;95(3):615-29.
- Johnson JB, Summer W, Cutler RG, et al. Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in
overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radic Biol Med, 2007;43(5):665-74.
- Klempel MC, Bhutani S, Fitzgibbon, et al. Dietary and physical activity adaptations to alternate day modified fasting: implications for optimal weight loss. Nutr J, 2010;9(35).
- Varady KA, Bhutani S, Church EC, et al. Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009;90(5):1138-43.