The human body is built to fast. In fact, we’ve been doing it consciously for thousands of years with the intent to improve our health. But it’s only recently that science has caught up to the tradition.
For those who want to shed pounds and lose weight, intermittent fasting is a popular solution, but does it actually work?
Let’s breakdown what intermittent fasting is, how to do it, and what the science says about it.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves abstaining from eating for a set amount of time followed by a time-restricted feeding window.
While some forms of fasting allow for up to 25% of your daily caloric intake, the types of intermittent fasting we’ll discuss do not. The idea is to completely avoid all calories whether through food or beverages.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are two types of popular intermittent fasting methods: the 16:8 fasting system and the 24-hour fasting system.
The 16:8 diet involves fasting for 16 hours followed by an eight-hour feeding window. Most people will start the fast at 8 p.m. and then begin the feeding window at 12 p.m. the next day.
During your feeding window of eight hours, you can follow your normal diet. Naturally, it is encouraged to focus on whole food choices while avoiding processed foods and sugar-based items.
Looking to improve your diet with better food choices? Check out our article on the best CrossFit foods. We review some of the healthiest foods to incorporate into your diet regardless of your workout.
Here’s an example of an intermittent fasting schedule:
- Monday: 8 p.m. – Begin to fast
- Tuesday: noon – Fast ends – Feeding window begins
- Tuesday: 8 p.m. – Feeding window closes – Fast begins again
The 16:8 method of intermittent fasting is safe enough to follow every day. If you’ve never fasted before, consider starting with alternate day fasting (e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Eventually progress to five to seven days per week.
As the name suggests, this is a 24-hour fast that provides a great degree of flexibility as to when you start.
For example, if you’d like to eat your last meal at 6 p.m., you could start your 24-hour fast at 8 p.m. to allow for digestion. Your next meal wouldn’t come until 8 p.m. the following day.
Unlike the 16:8 fasting system, you would only want to do the 24-hour fast once or twice per week.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Does it Work?
The short answer is “absolutely” but let’s take a closer look at how intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and feel better:
Supports Consistent Weight Loss: One scientific review of 40 studies confirmed that intermittent fasting does encourage a steady and consistent weight loss. The average weight loss was between 7 to 11 pounds over a ten-week period. 
Both Systems Work: Studies found that both of the common intermittent fasting systems worked for weight loss. What’s more, appetite levels did not increase as a result of either type of intermittent fasting. 
No Binging on Non-Fasting Days: Unlike most trendy diets, intermittent fasting doesn’t result in binge eating on the days you don’t fast. 
Weight Loss Fasting for Beginners
If you have never fasted before, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Start with 16:8: Instead of jumping into a 24-hour fast, we recommend starting with the 16:8 system. Once you’re able to comfortably maintain a 16-hour fast for a month or two, try the 24-hour system.
16 Hours Might Be Too Much at First: You might find that 16 hours of fasting is too much for you at first. In this case, you can start with 12 hours and gradually add another hour as you adjust. For example, start your fast at 8 p.m. and then begin your feeding window at 8 a.m. the next day. A week or two after that, start your feeding window at 9 a.m. and so on until you get to 12 p.m.
Wear a Shred Belt: If your goal is to drop weight specifically from your waist, consider pairing intermittent fasting with a shred belt. Also called a thermogenic belt, this device safely increases the internal temperature around your waist to promote fat burning.
Remove Temptations: If you’ve never fasted before, you might find that the cravings rev up toward the end of the fast. Before you begin an intermittent fasting system, we would highly recommend removing those temptation foods from your home.
Use Black Coffee to Hold Off Hunger: Continuing with the point above, most people will complain that the last two hours of the fast are the toughest. This is when the hunger starts to become especially noticeable. One way to stave off your hunger is to drink black coffee or tea. The natural caffeine within acts as an appetite suppressant, ensuring you make it the full 16 or 24 hours.
Do You Use Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?
What have your results been like? Have a before and after picture after using intermittent fasting? Tag us on Instagram so we can share.
- Seimon RV, Roekenes JA, Zibellini J, Zhu B, Gibson AA, Hills AP, Wood RE, King NA, Byrne NM, Sainsbury A. Do intermittent diets provide physiological benefits over continuous diets for weight loss? A systematic review of clinical trials. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2015 Dec 15;418:153-72
- Trepanowski JF, Kroeger CM, Barnosky A, Klempel MC, Bhutani S, Hoddy KK, Gabel K, Freels S, Rigdon J, Rood J, Ravussin E. Effect of Alternate-Day Fasting on Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Cardioprotection Among Metabolically Healthy Obese Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2017 May 1.