Close this search box.
True Self Care Logo

The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting is a popular and effective way to lose weight and improve your health. But how does it work? What are the benefits and risks? And what are the best methods to follow? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and more, based on the latest scientific evidence.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of eating and fasting. Unlike traditional diets that restrict calories or food groups, IF focuses on when you eat rather than what you eat. There are many different ways to do IF, but they all involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting windows.

Some of the most common methods of IF are:

  • The 16/8 method: This involves fasting for 16 hours a day and eating within an 8-hour window, such as from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. This is also known as the Leangains protocol.
  • The 5:2 diet: This involves eating normally for 5 days a week and reducing your calorie intake to 500-600 calories on 2 non-consecutive days, such as Monday and Thursday.
  • The eat-stop-eat method: This involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week, such as from dinner one day to dinner the next day.

How does intermittent fasting help you lose weight?

The main reason why intermittent fasting helps you lose weight is that it reduces your overall calorie intake, as long as you don’t overeat during your eating windows. By eating fewer calories than you burn, you create a negative energy balance that forces your body to use its stored fat for fuel.

However, intermittent fasting also has other effects on your metabolism that may enhance weight loss. For example, intermittent fasting may:

  • Increase your levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which helps you burn fat and preserve muscle mass.
  • Lower your insulin levels, which improves your blood sugar control and makes it easier for your body to access and use fat as energy.
  • Boost your levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that stimulates your nervous system and increases your metabolic rate.
  • Activate a cellular process called autophagy, which involves the breakdown and recycling of old and damaged cells, which may improve your health and longevity.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting for your health?

Besides helping you lose weight, intermittent fasting may also have several benefits for your health and well-being. Some of the potential benefits of intermittent fasting are:

  • Improved blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, which may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Enhanced brain function, memory, and mood, which may protect you from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Reduced inflammation, oxidative stress, and cellular aging, which may delay the onset of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
  • Increased lifespan and quality of life, which may be partly due to the activation of longevity genes and pathways.

What are the risks and side effects of intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is generally safe and well-tolerated for most healthy adults, but it may not be suitable for everyone. Some people may experience negative effects such as:

  • Hunger, cravings, irritability, and fatigue, especially during the initial adaptation period.
  • Headaches, dizziness, low blood sugar, and dehydration, especially if you don’t drink enough water or consume enough electrolytes.
  • Hormonal imbalances, menstrual irregularities, and fertility issues, especially for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive.
  • Muscle loss, nutrient deficiencies, and eating disorders, especially if you fast for too long, too often, or don’t eat enough protein and micronutrients.

If you have any medical conditions or take any medications, you should consult your doctor before starting intermittent fasting. You should also stop fasting and seek medical attention if you experience any severe or persistent symptoms.

How to do intermittent fasting safely and effectively?

If you want to try intermittent fasting for weight loss and health, here are some tips to help you do it safely and effectively:

  • Choose a method that suits your lifestyle, preferences, and goals. You can start with a shorter fasting window and gradually increase it as you get used to it.
  • Drink plenty of water and sugar-free beverages during your fasting periods to stay hydrated and suppress your appetite. You can also add a pinch of salt or lemon juice to your water to replenish your electrolytes.
  • Eat balanced and nutritious meals during your eating windows to meet your calorie and nutrient needs. Focus on whole foods such as lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid binge eating or overeating during your eating windows, as this may cancel out the benefits of fasting and cause weight gain or digestive issues.
  • Exercise regularly and moderately to enhance your weight loss and health outcomes. You can do any type of physical activity that you enjoy, but avoid doing too much or too intense exercise when you are fasting, as this may increase your risk of injury or dehydration.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your fasting schedule as needed. You can take a break from fasting or modify your fasting window if you feel unwell, stressed, or have a special occasion.
  • Be patient and consistent with your fasting routine, as it may take some time to see the results. Remember that intermittent fasting is not a quick fix, but a long-term lifestyle change that requires commitment and discipline.


Here are some frequently asked questions about intermittent fasting and weight loss:

  • Q: Can I drink coffee or tea during my fasting periods?
  • A: Yes, you can drink coffee or tea during your fasting periods, as long as they are black or unsweetened. Adding milk, cream, sugar, or artificial sweeteners may break your fast and affect your blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • Q: Can I take supplements during my fasting periods?
  • A: It depends on the type and dosage of the supplement. Some supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, may be better absorbed with food and may break your fast if taken on an empty stomach. Other supplements, such as electrolytes, amino acids, and caffeine, may be beneficial during your fasting periods, as they may help you stay hydrated, energized, and prevent muscle loss. You should always check the label and consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
  • Q: How often and how long should I fast for weight loss?
  • A: There is no definitive answer to this question, as different methods and durations of fasting may have different effects on your weight loss and health. However, some general guidelines are:
    • For the 16/8 method, you can fast every day or every other day, depending on your preference and tolerance.
    • For the 5:2 diet, you can fast twice a week, preferably on non-consecutive days, such as Monday and Thursday.
    • For the eat-stop-eat method, you can fast once or twice a week, preferably on non-training days, such as Wednesday and Saturday.
    • For any method, you should not fast for more than 24 hours at a time, as this may increase your risk of adverse effects and nutrient deficiencies.
  • Q: What are the best foods to eat during my eating windows?
  • A: The best foods to eat during your eating windows are those that are high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and micronutrients, as they will help you feel full, satisfied, and nourished. Some examples are:
    • Lean meats, fish, eggs, tofu, and dairy products for protein.
    • Nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and oils for healthy fats.
    • Whole grains, beans, lentils, and starchy vegetables for complex carbohydrates.
    • Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.

You should also limit or avoid foods that are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and processed ingredients, as they will spike your blood sugar, increase your appetite, and promote inflammation and weight gain. Some examples are:

  • Sweets, pastries, cakes, cookies, and candies for sugar.
  • White bread, pasta, rice, and cereals for refined carbohydrates.
  • Margarine, shortening, and fried foods for trans fats.
  • Fast food, junk food, and ready meals for processed ingredients.


Intermittent fasting is a powerful and flexible way to lose weight and improve your health. By alternating between periods of eating and fasting, you can reduce your calorie intake, boost your metabolism, and activate your body’s natural healing mechanisms. However, intermittent fasting is not a magic bullet, and it may not be suitable for everyone. You should always consult your doctor before starting intermittent fasting, and follow some basic guidelines to do it safely and effectively. If you do it right, intermittent fasting can be a rewarding and enjoyable lifestyle change that can help you achieve your weight loss and health goals.

In This Post:

Editor`s Pick:
Stay In Touch

Never miss an important update. Be the first to receive our exclusive beauty tips straight into your inbox.