Lose weight using intermittent fasting

Do you want to lose weight? I’m currently updating my page with the most important tips on How to lose weight. The page is structured so that you can start at the top with tip #1 and then keep going as long as you like – perhaps you only need one or two of them.

Today it’s time for a new piece of advice at number 14. First a quick recap of all the earlier tips:

Choose a low-carb diet, eat when hungryeat real foodeat only when hungrymeasure your progress wiselybe patientwomen: avoid fruitmen: avoid beer, avoid artificial sweetenersreview any medicationsstress less and sleep moreeat less of dairy products and nuts… and supplement vitamins and minerals.

So there are many things to consider before moving on to this thing, but don’t let that fool you. This is one of the most effective weapons available to lose weight. It’s perfect if you are stuck at a weight-loss plateau despite “doing everything right” – or to speed up your weight loss.

Use intermittent fasting

This super weapon is called intermittent fasting. It means exactly what it sounds like… not eating, during a specified time interval. Here’s how to do it:

Recommended first option – 16:8

Probably the most popular option is fasting for 16 hours (including sleep), which is usually easy to do on an LCHF diet. It only requires trading breakfast for a cup of coffee (or some other non-caloric fluid) and having lunch as the first meal of the day. Fasting from 8 pm to 12 noon – for example – equals 16 hours of fasting.

Of course there are many other variants of intermittent fasting, but this 16:8 method (16 hours of not eating, 8 hours of eating during a day) is the one I recommend as a first option. It’s effective, easy to do and does not require counting calories.

You can do a 16:8 fast as often as you like. For example twice a week, or on weekdays only… or every single day. The more often you do it, the more effective it is.

In fact on an LCHF diet some people spontaneously fall into this habit, as their appetite is reduced (see weight loss tip #4, eat only when hungry).

Other kinds of intermittent fasting

There are many other options. Basically the longer periods are harder to do but more effective. Here are two more common options:

  • Fasting for 24 hours (often dinner – dinner) once or twice a week. Effective and can be surprisingly easy to do, especially on an LCHF diet.
  • The 5:2 diet. Eat as much as you need to feel satisfied 5 days of the week and then eat calorie-restricted on two days (500 calories per day for women, 600 calories for men). I don’t recommend this as it requires calorie counting and extra planning, but some people still find they enjoy it.

What about eating when hungry?

Doesn’t advice on intermittent fasting contradict the advice to eat when hungry? Yes it does, somewhat.

I recommend eating when hungry as a first option, and I recommend always eating until you feel satisfied at meals. But if this is not effective enough then intermittent fasting is a very effective addition. Remember – and this is crucial – that between fasting periods you’re still supposed to eat until satisfied.

Intermittent fasting is not the same thing as obsessively counting calories and starving yourself 24-7, i.e. “caloric restriction as primary” (CRaP) diets. Starving yourself is a recipe for misery and failure.

Intermittent fasting is about eating all that your body needs… while still allowing it to sometimes briefly rest from constant feeding.

What’s acceptable to drink during fasts?

During a fast you can’t eat, but you should definitely drink. Water is the drink of choice, but coffee and tea are also great options. During longer fasts it can be wise to add a little salt too, or drink bouillon.

Anything you drink should ideally be zero calories. But it may be acceptable to cheat by adding a small amount of milk in your coffee or tea – if you absolutely need it to enjoy your drink.

What to eat between fasts

So what should you eat when you are not fasting? Well, if your goal is to lose weight I suggest following all the tips above, including eating an LCHF diet. Combining this with intermittent fasting is a great combination.

On a LCHF diet your hunger is reduced and it’s much easier to do a period of fasting. Also, your fat burning is already very good – so when fasting you’ll easily burn lots of fat.

So, while on an LCHF diet the fasting periods become both easier to do and more effective. 1 + 1 equals 3.

Who should not do intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting can be a great idea, but not everyone should do it:

  • If you are addicted to food or sugar then intermittent fasting will increase food cravings and increases the risk of a relapse… so be very careful. I recommend always eating when hungry.
  • If you are totally stressed out or sleep deprived then take care of that problem first (see weight loss tip #11) or fasting may be too stressful for your body.
  • If you are on any medication – especially insulin – the doses may need to be adjusted when fasting. Discuss it with your doctor first.
  • Growing children, pregnant women and breastfeeding women should not do longer fasting periods, as they have an increased need of nutrients. I recommend eating when hungry and using the 14 tips above if you need to lose weight.

More

For more on fasting check out our material with our top fasting expert, Dr. Jason Fung:

What is Fasting? – Dr. Jason Fung
How to Maximize Fat Burning – Dr. Jason Fung
How to Fast – The Different Options – Dr. Jason Fung
The 7 Benefits of Fasting – Dr. Jason Fung
The Top 5 Myths of Fasting – Dr. Jason Fung
Breakfast! Is It Really That Important? – Dr. Jason Fung
The Perfect Treatment for Weight Loss and Diabetes – Dr. Jason Fung
Ask Dr. Jason Fung

All 18 tips about weight loss on the page How to Lose Weight.

82 Comments

Top Comments

  1. Caroline
    Why even bother writing that comment? Not remotely constructive. And to call someone 'that guy' when you know his name, just plain rude.
    Read more →
  2. Murray
    Who cares who popularized something first? One can bet numerous cultures homed in on similar principles and embedded them in rituals. Many religions have fasting rituals. What matters is whether fasting works, different ways in which it works, and why it works.

    I don't understand the reference to capitalism. Are you suggesting the way intermittent fasting is being presented is breaching intellectual property in the idea? Isn't copyright (property in the expression of ideas) the epitome of capitalism?

    Read more →
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All Comments

  1. 2 comments removed
  2. A. C.
    I’ve been on for 4 days now. I’ve been binging between the 8 because I didn’t read and understand the fast better, but however my Sleep and energy is pretty constant. Now I’m focusing on the low calories.
  3. 9 comments removed
  4. Aj dimal
    I have a question for 16:8 pattern in 12 noon to 8pm you can eat lunch and dinner in that period of time right? Or in that 8 whole hours you can just eat one meal?
    Reply: #164
  5. Will
    Typically people eat lunch and dinner in the 12 noon to 8pm window... to start with you might also have a mid afternoon snack too as your appetite adjusts.
    I fast from about 5.30pm until about 9.30am.... but thats just what works for me. I did loose about 20lbs though which I'm pleased with and feel overall better, sleep better etc.
  6. 1 comment removed
  7. Nita
    I am going to try this out soon..wish me luck:)
  8. Mark
    Good Luck Nita! I have been on it for a week now with great results. Always good to check with your doctor. I do not have to take any medications and in good health. Already excited about getting sculpted. Definitely do the 12pm to 8pm to eat, eat healthy and if you are working out, make sure you put enough good food(fuel) in your body.
  9. L.A
    hi! if i do the 16:8 intermittent fasting and my 1st meal is at 2pm and last meal is at 10pm, can i drink water after waking up at around 11am?thank you
  10. Anne
    HI L.A. You can drink lots of water on IF -- it is recommended.
  11. Charlie
    I’ve been practicing 16:8 for 2 months and after a week my cravings disappeared and I’ve lost 13 lbs. Not to mention, I feel great! Best diet I’ve ever tried and I eat whatever I want. Except I have celiac disease and natural eat low carb, but still enjoy rice and gf noodles or potatoes.
  12. Karen
    I've been doing the 16:8 for about 9 days now, in conjunction with the Keto Diet. It actually works well I think. The only time I get hungry is the last 2 hours (I do 11am to 7pm) between 9 and 11. I figure it doesn't hurt me to be hungry for 2 hours. I bring my lunch to work so there is no danger of me binging on something I shouldn't. I also work out in the morning on an empty stomach (well I do drink 2 cups of coffee first). I feel great and the heartburn I had at night is starting to go away. Pants are feeling looser also.
  13. MissPriss
    Is it productive to fast M-T only?
  14. 1 comment removed
  15. Elssy
    I’m trying this on Monday hope it work it for me
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