The Facts About Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

White dinner plate with knife and fork as clock hands

If you have done any research into health and fitness lately you have probably heard about intermittent fasting. It is the latest rage, but is it safe, and does it work?

We've all done it, tried all kinds of diet plans that promise unrealistic and fast weight loss results.

While they may boost short-term weight loss quickly, most fad diets promote unhealthy eating habits. In fact, some can severely jeopardize your health because you don’t meet all your daily nutritional needs, which can lead to a serious nutritional deficiency.

Above all things, your body needs the energy to work at its optimum and keep you alive, and you can only obtain this essential energy from nutrients in the food that you eat, mainly digestible fiber, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamins.

As a person who has tried just about every diet out there, my goal is to find lifestyle changes that will give long-lasting weight loss results. As in all things, health, nutrition, and fitness are evolving with each, and intermittent fasting is one of the latest evolutions.

Also referred to as IF, intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating which alternates between fasting and feeding. You allocate a time window for eating, you eat only within that window and fast the rest of the time.

Intermittent fasting has become a popular and healthy way to boost weight loss for women over 60, as well as individuals who are looking to improve their overall health.

There are different types of intermittent fasting, each with varying timeframes for fasting and eating.

However, the basic rules for all are pretty straightforward – stay hydrated during the fasting window by only drinking water, black coffee, or tea to help reduce feelings of hunger and eat high-quality foods during feeding times.

Popular Fasting Schedules

The 5:2 Fast Diet

This plan involves consuming a recommended calorie intake for five days a week, then reducing calorie intake for the remaining two days down to 500 calories a day for women.

Not only is this diet customizable and flexible, but studies have found that women over 60 who are on this program can lower their risks of breast cancer.

The 16/8 Method

The 16/8 Method limits eating to an eight-hour window, with 16 hours of fasting. An example would be eating your breakfast at 10:00 a.m. and your dinner at 6:00 p.m. and fasting the rest of the time.

During your eating window, you can eat whatever you want, however, for the best results it is recommended that you choose healthy nutritious foods.

The 16 hours of fasting allow your body to go into ketosis (yup, just like the Keto diet) and burn fat for energy.


Eat-Stop-Eat (ESE) is an intermittent fasting method created by author and weight-loss guru Brad Pilon. In this method, you fast at least 2 non-consecutive days each week for 20-24 hours.

On your eating days, you can eat anything, but it is recommended that you stay within 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 calories for men. Also, strength training on your eating days is highly recommended as muscle building helps increase the body's metabolism.

Alternate-Day fasting  

Alternate-Day fasting is pretty much what it sounds like, with a little twist.

With this plan, you fast and eat on alternate days, but your fast days are not completely food-free and your eating days are more controlled than those with longer fasting periods.

You should plan on eating a normal amount of calories based on your metabolic rate and on your fast day you will plan on eating 25% fewer calories than you do on your feast days.

For example, if your normal caloric intake is 1,800 calories, you would eat 450 calories on your fast day.

The Warrior Diet is another intermittent fasting diet, although compared to the previous choices this one does come with some major caveats.

With this plan, you basically don't eat at all during the day (some small snacks are allowed) and then eat a large meal in the evening. There is no scientific data backing up this eating plan and it can lead to eating less healthy foods.

In the evening most people are tired and when hungry likely to pick up fast food or pizza. Also, there is scientific proof that eating a large meal before going to bed is less than ideal.

The Science

Intermittent Fasting has gained popularity in recent years and research carried out among people using IF reports seeing a vast improvement in their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, a reboot of their immune system, and much more.

Evidence-based facts suggest that during fasting the body is unable to get its energy from food and consequently dips into the glucose reservoir that is stored in the liver and muscles 8 hours after the last meal is consumed.

Once the body uses up all the stored glucose, it begins to burn fat as a source of energy, which can result in weight loss and do so while preserving muscle and reducing cholesterol levels.

Intermittent fasting also serves as a healthy way of detoxing the body, especially when you consume plenty of fruit and light vegetables because any toxins stored in the body's fat are dissolved and removed even after a few days of fasting.

Ridding the body of harmful toxins has been found to be effective not only for regenerating immune cells, but also has a positive impact on mental well-being.

Improved Sleep with IF

While the biggest draw to intermittent fasting today is mainly weight loss, time-restricted feeding can remodel the microbial communities in our guts and consequently mitigate systemic inflammation, reduce gut permeability, and enhance gut integrity.

We all love to have a late-night snack once in a while as a way to unwind from a stressful day. But did you know that in addition to heartburn and indigestion, binging close to bedtime makes for restless sleep, and will increase your blood sugar levels for a full 24 hours?

Lack of sleep and eating at night has long been associated with weight gain, insulin resistance, and increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Studies on intermittent fasting suggest that that increasing the nightly fasting duration to more than 14 hours reduces nighttime eating, leads to a significant reduction in caloric intake and weight gain.

You will begin to experience significant improvements in your sleep satisfaction, you remain sated throughout the night and have increased energy levels the next day.

IF is not just for weight loss

A study that used the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting showed that it stimulated the growth of new brain cells, or Neurogenesis, and boosted the production of an important protein called BDNF that plays a role in producing and protecting new brain cells.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) makes your brain more resilient to stress, and intermittent fasting has been shown to boost it by 50–400.  

Additionally, free radicals that cause oxidative stress to the body and cause many chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, can be eliminated from the body during intermittent fasting because it forces the brain to use ketones, which are cleaner and more efficient than sugar.

Surprisingly, fasting has been shown to boost human growth hormone levels (HGH) to nourish our body with anti-aging, energy, and longevity benefits. What’s not to love about IF? 

Warning label

It is, however, important to mention that individuals with eating disorders, underweight people, those under the age of 18, pregnant women, as well as people with type II diabetes, and those recovering from surgery should not attempt intermittent fasting without first consulting with a doctor or nutritionist.


Intermittent fasting works for me and I feel my best when I fast 16-18 hours. There are many great resources if you want to learn more about IF before jumping in. 

The book that got me started was "Delay, Don't Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle" by Gin Stephens. She has a very active and informative Facebook group and a podcast called Intermittent Fasting Stories. 

Another person I follow is Amanda Rose and her "Eat Like a Bear" Facebook group.

There are many other great books to read, especially if you are interested in the science behind why IF works, but these are the 2 ladies that got me started. They speak directly to women, especially older women, who have struggled with weight issues for a very long time. 

Rebecca Signature    

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