Fasting is a popular weight loss method, likely due to its simplicity. Intermittent fasting is perhaps the most popular at the moment. There are other types of fasts that have gained popularity over the years as well.
On the extreme side of things you have long fasts. These include a day or more without food. These are absolutely not recommended and will likely make you cranky more than anything else.
When you don’t eat for a while, you lose energy. That sounds obvious, but the implications are not. Not eating causes you to move less, workout with less intensity, and burn fewer calories. Starving yourself like this results in weight loss, but much of that comes from muscle.
Intermittent fasting is more popular than long fasts because it’s realistic. There are many forms, but the basic premise is that you go without food for a certain period of time every day. For example, you could skip breakfast and only eat lunch and dinner. If you eat dinner at 8pm and have lunch the next day at 12pm, you’ve just done a 16-hour fast.
If you already skip breakfast, you’re doing some type of intermittent fasting without knowing it. The benefit of this style of eating is that you don’t need to worry as much about what you’re consuming. Plus, research shows that it can help you lose weight.
Unfortunately, there’s no big secret behind why it works. Many theories have been thrown around including: increased metabolism, changes in hormones, improved insulin sensitivity. These theories haven’t panned out, yet research shows that people who do small fasts tend to lose more weight. Why is that?
For most people, fasting causes them to eat less. It’s true that you’ll be hungry and try to eat a lot by the time you get to your meals, but most people get full before they have the chance to eat too much. When you fast, you’re cramming three meals into two. That’s hard to do.
A separate study showed that people who skip breakfast tended to consume a couple hundred calories less per day. In the short-term that’s not a lot, but it adds up. Over time, 200 calories per day equates to a pound of weight loss per week, approximately.
If fasting works well for you, go for it. Some people don’t mind skipping breakfast or lunch. If the thought of skipping meals strikes fear in your heart, don’t do it! There are other ways to cut calories from your diet.