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The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

When you think of a diet program, strategies such as counting calories or following a low-fat or reduced carbohydrate diet probably come to mind. While these programs are common, an alternative method that is becoming increasingly popular is intermittent fasting.


With intermittent fasting, a dieter completes fasts, during which he or she consumes no food or caloric beverages for a specific period of time, and then has periods where food and calories are consumed. Sometimes fasts can last for several days, or people may have blocks of time during which they fast. For instance, those who choose to do intermittent fasts may eat only between 12 pm and 6 pm and then fast for the 18 hours between 6 pm and 12 pm the next day. Other people may do alternate day fasts, eating one day and then fasting the next.


The HCG Diet Protocol has intermittent fasting naturally incorporated into the diet. According to Dr. Simeons' menu, breakfast consists of coffee or tea, (not really breakfast!) In all reality, you're eating lunch at noon and dinner around 6pm. That's intermittent fasting! Note that Dr. Simeons, the doctor who formulated the HCG Diet Protocol, did allow patients to break the fruit or breadstick away from the lunch meal to eat at breakfast time but the default is no breakfast.


Regardless of the type of fasting program chosen, this form of dieting has received attention for its health benefits. Here, learn about the ways that intermittent fasting promotes weight loss and improves health.


What the Research Says about Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss


Scientists have conducted numerous studies on intermittent fasting to determine its effectiveness for weight loss, and the results have been promising. A research review published in a 2011 publication of Obesity Reviews shows that intermittent restriction is just as effective as a daily low-calorie diet is for reducing body weight and body fat, but people tend to lose less lean mass with intermittent strategies. That is to say, intermittent fasting can help people to lose weight without burning off lean muscle mass.


A second research review, published in 2016 in Obesity Science & Practice, found that alternate day fasting produced more fat loss when compared to a low-calorie diet. This study also found that alternate day fasting was effective for maintaining lean body mass during weight loss. Based on the research, intermittent fasting methods make it possible to lose a significant amount of body fat without losing lean body weight.


Specific Health Benefits


The research shows that intermittent fasting can promote weight loss, and there are specific health benefits associated with the weight loss that occurs with this eating pattern. One such benefit is a reduction in diabetes risk. For example, a study in a 2011 publication of the International Journal of Obesity found that when compared to standard low-calorie diets, intermittent restriction was more effective for reducing insulin levels and insulin resistance, which are associated with diabetes risk.


Intermittent fasting can also lower heart disease risk. The same study found that intermittent restriction reduced LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides levels to the same extent as a typical reduced calorie diet did.


The Ease of Intermittent Fasting


While intermittent fasting is comparable in effectiveness to low-calorie diets for reducing heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol and blood pressure, long-term success might be more likely with intermittent approaches. Scientists who reviewed the research with alternate day fasting for the 2016 report in Obesity Science & Practice concluded that this type of eating strategy may be easier to adhere to when compared to reduced calorie diets.


With intermittent fasting, whether it be alternate day, for several days, or for a certain portion of each day, you do not have to restrict food or calories continuously, as there are periods during which you are able to eat. This can make it easier to follow the diet. During eating periods, you can enjoy the foods that you like, and during fasting periods, you know that soon enough, you will be able to again enjoy food.


Intermittent fasting can be a simple eating strategy that promotes weight loss and improves health. If traditional low-calorie diets have not been effective for you, an intermittent fasting regimen may help you to shed unwanted pounds. If you have concerns about the safety of such an eating program, contact your physician or another licensed medical professional.