Does Fasting Help You Lose Weight?


More dieters are turning to fasting or more precisely, intermittent fasting, to help them lose weight. But does fasting work to help you shed those extra pounds?

Brittany Diehl, MS, RDN, LD, Registered Dietitian at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center says, “There are pros and cons to every diet. Intermittent fasting works for many people and it can provide some additional health benefits.”

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting means that you go periods of time without food, ranging from a few hours to a few days at a time. It focuses more on your eating patterns, rather than what you are actually eating. The most common types of intermittent fasting are:

  • Alternate day fasting—this type of fasting is explained in the name, you fast for 24 hours followed by eating a normal, healthy diet during the next 24 hour period.
  • Modified fasting—also known as a 5:2 fasting plan, during this type of intermittent fasting you eat 20-25% of your daily calorie needs for two non-consecutive days per week and you eat a normal, healthy diet the other five days.
  • Time-restricted fasting—each day you limit your eating to eight consecutive hours and fast for the remaining 16 hours.

Intermittent fasting allows your body to create a predictable rhythm in food availability and your body’s naturally occurring biological processes, or your circadian rhythm. A predictable schedule allows your body to anticipate daily changes and optimize your fitness. According to a 2017 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, intermittent fasting does promote weight loss.

Other Health Benefits to Intermittent Fasting

Time-restricted fasting is one of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting. If you limit your daily eating from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. it puts rules into place that help you limit over-eating and late-night snacking.

“Restricting eating to daytime hours can help your body with a natural cleanse process,” says Brittany. “This cleanse period is said to improve focus, reduce inflammation and improve sleep patterns.”

Another benefit of intermittent fasting is it forces you to eat more mindfully. When you have restrictions set on your eating times you tend to plan your meals and stop some of the mindless snacking that can happen. Non-restricted eating hours should not be an excuse to eat whatever you want. People still need to be focused on making healthy choices.

“No matter which diet you try, eating more mindfully is a key to weight loss. There are many different types of diets you can try to lose weight,” says Brittany. “It is important you choose a diet that works for you and is approved by your doctor.”

If you need help keeping your weight goals on track, talk to your primary care physician or schedule an appointment at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center by calling (859) 212-4625. You can also learn more about our medical weight-loss options available by watching our online information session.