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Does intermittent fasting help you lose weight?

Statistics show that 95 percent of people fail at their diets, which has led some to consider intermittent fasting.

“Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle change rather than a diet,” says Kristen Smith, MS, RD, a bariatric surgery coordinator at Piedmont. “It's an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. Most of the plans allow you to eat your favorite foods during non-fasting days and non-fasting time-periods. The goal is for you to incorporate this into your lifestyle and do it for the long haul.”

Why does intermittent fasting work?

Intermittent fasting alters the way your body attains energy, Smith explains.

“Your body goes into starvation mode and when it runs out of a carbohydrate source for fuel, it will start going to fat sources,” she says. “That puts your body into ketosis where it starts burning fat.”

 This process helps with weight loss and may provide additional health benefits, which include:

Types of intermittent fasting plans

Most intermittent fasting plans fall into two categories: whole-day fasting plans or time-restricted feeding.

With whole-day fasting plans, people fast a few days per week for an entire day,” says Smith. “Then they are able to eat what they want on the other days of the week. Some of the whole-day fasting plans allow people to eat 500 to 600 calories per day during the fasting periods.”

Time-restricted feeding plans allow people to eat during an eight-hour window and then they fast for the remaining 16 hours.

Regardless of the plan you choose, Smith recommends eating every three to four hours and listening to your body's hunger cues to determine when it's time to eat.

“It's really important to make sure you're still eating balanced meals to meet your nutritional needs,” says Smith. “Most of the plans don't designate how much you can eat, but you should try not to overindulge because you could end up consuming more than twice your caloric needs in one day.”

Things to consider before starting intermittent fasting

Following an intermittent fasting lifestyle is not for everyone. If you choose to do it, select the version that best accommodates your lifestyle.

“I also recommend checking with your physician before you start this plan,” says Smith.

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