Intermittent fasting is going through a bit of a revival at the moment. The internet is full of information about its benefits. Celebrities are endorsing fasting and every other nutrition blog has an article on why you should fast. There are variations on this theme, but most intermittent fasting diets involve a period of normal eating followed by no food at all. There are some pretty outrageous claims made by some, but on the whole fasting seems to work in the short term.
We Cut Calories, We Lose Weight, Right?
People assume that fasting works because of calorie counting. Cut the amount of calories you eat and the body must lose weight because it calls on its fat reserves to fuel activity. To most, fasting is the extreme versions of this ideology that takes the concept further. Cut all calories through fasting and your body will have to burn fat to function and so weight loss will follow. And it’s true, fasting does cause weight loss, so these people must be right hey?
Fasting Isn't About Calorie Restriction
It is still unfortunate that so many people are trapped in the old paradigm of calorie counting and restrictive energy diets. Most people think that diets work because they limit calories. You cut your energy intake, you lose weight. Ask most people and they think the word diet to means ‘energy restriction’. However, caloric restriction is not why fasting causes weight loss. In fact fasting works for the same reason that all ‘diets’ work. And it has nothing to do with counting calories.
Fasting Limits Sugar Intake
The reason fasting works, is the same reason most ‘diets’ work. Because they limit the intake sugar. Sugar is the main driver of weight gain, and so ANY diet that limits its intake will cause weight loss. Sugar is a metabolic poison when ingested in high amounts, and this causes liver dysfunction and insulin resistance. The end result is a sluggish metabolism and a situation that your body becomes reluctant to burn fat or perform activity.
Calorie Restriction Does Not Cause Fat Loss
However, cutting calories is counter productive to weight loss. If you cut calories you get hungry. This hunger builds up over a number of weeks or months and then, bang. You eat and the weight goes back on again. Most people assume that we get fat because we eat too much. But this is probably not true, In fact, we get fat not because we eat too much, but because we eat the wrong foods. And that means too much sugar and too many sugar containing foods.
Should I Try Fasting?
Weight loss diets are all very different. We have high proteins diets, high fat diets, low fat diets, isocaloric diets, high carbohydrate diets, the grapefruit diet, the South Beach diet. You name it, someone has turned it into a diet. Generally most people have some short term success on most of these diets. The reason is they all limit sugar. Fasting in no exception. If you want to try fasting by all means go ahead. But you'll get just as good results from eating healthy foods and cutting out sugar, without the need to count calories.