Is intermittent fasting the answer to your weight loss woes?

Priscilla Barnes

Is intermittent fasting the answer to your weight loss woes?


Maybe not.

As someone who wants to prevent disease and age well, and loves to help others do the same, let me tell you, intermittent fasting has amazing research to back its health benefits.

It has been shown to help reverse the effects of aging, help with insulin resistance, and aid in weight loss.

So why wouldn’t anyone try this??

Let’s look at why these benefits exist for intermittent fasting.

  1. It reverses some effects of aging: intermittent fasting (and caloric restriction) have been shown to improve the function of mitochondria (1.)

    Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. And as we age, they become worn down and less efficient. Our overall health is directly related to our cells’ health as we age. And intermittent fasting (or as is often paired in research studies although they’re not exactly the same, calorie restriction), helps to reverse damage to mitochondria as we age (2.)

  2. It improves insulin sensitivity, reversing the major problem of insulin resistance.

    Insulin resistance is also known as pre-diabetes, and it is a major precursor to other metabolic health issues (read blog post here).

    Fasting, or periods of not eating, can help to reverse this because anytime that we consume food, insulin is released. A constant state of incessant feeding, or grazing, throughout the day leads to a constant release of insulin. As the body becomes accustomed to insulin overload, insulin becomes less effective. This leads to insulin resistance.

    For this reason, fasting can help improve insulin sensitivity. Periods of not eating allows the body to stop incessantly producing insulin, thereby aiding in the reversal of insulin resistance. (3.)

  3. Wait a second, you’re telling me, if I only eat between 1 pm and 5 pm I’ll lose weight? Get outta town.

    But seriously. That is, after all, why most people pursue intermittent fasting: for weight loss goals.

    And yes, although most of the research studies are under short time frames, they do show that intermittent fasting can aid in weight loss (4.) (Read this blog post series to understand calorie deficits.)

So with some easily available data on the effectiveness of intermittent fasting, and as a health and wellness coach helping others prevent disease, let me tell you the number of times I’ve recommended intermittent fasting to clients: zero.

Does that mean it’s not right for you? Of course not! I do believe there is a time and place for it if it fits your life. But if you’re interested, I’ll give you reasons it may not be sustainable.

And if it’s not sustainable, what’s the point?

Before understanding macronutrients and working with a coach, I tried intermittent fasting to lose weight. I lasted two days. I had done longer fasts in the past, so I didn't think it would be that hard.

The difference this time around? I had a full time job and enough stress as is.

My personal experience was that it sucked. I was hungry and grumpy and not enjoyable to be around. I felt bad for my coworkers.

I tried to suppress the morning hunger with black coffee, but looking back, that’s a recipe for disaster for most women (coffee on an empty stomach that is).

I did get a burst of energy at some point while fasting.

But you know when else you get a burst of energy? When you’re in fight or flight. When you’re extremely stressed running for your life from a bear.

Maybe that sounds extreme, but when your nervous system perceives stress, whatever the source, the cascade of stress hormones happens.

And that leads me to why I have yet to recommend intermittent fasting to any client in the last two years: it is a source of stress, and 100% of people I’ve worked with are either in a state of burnout or heading there. (If you’d like to read more about what I’ve done to reverse damage with stress, read here.)

Most people have a stress bucket that is about to overflow, or has been overflowing for years.

But shouldn’t all of the benefits of intermittent fasting override the fact that it adds stress to the body? No.

Here’s why.

We learned that intermittent fasting reverses the effects of aging by improving mitochondrial function. You know what else improves mitochondrial function?

——>Weight lifting (5.) Dietary changes, like consuming adequate minerals. (6.) And, oddly enough, that research shows chronic stress decreases mitochondrial function.

We learned that intermittent fasting reverses insulin resistance. You know what else reverses insulin resistance?

——->Walking (7.) Protein balanced meals. Building muscle. Mineral balancing (8.).

We learned that intermittent fasting aids in weight loss. You know what else aids in weight loss?

——>Avoiding a calorie surplus, or put simply, eating in a short term calorie deficit. Building muscle. Walking daily. Eating enough protein.

As with any lifestyle change you want to incorporate to improve your health, it’s always important to consider if something is sustainable.

For most people I work with, there comes a day when they want to make pancakes with their kids on a Saturday morning, or they go to dinner with friends late, or they just don’t enjoy fasting.

Understanding how to fuel your body and prevent disease goes beyond an hour on the clock.

For that purpose, it’s always important to find a lifestyle change that you can carry with you as you age. Maybe for you that’s intermittent fasting. But be informed, it’s not the only way. Side note: You know, if you eat dinner at 6 pm and don’t eat breakfast till 7 am, you’ve done a 13 hour fast.

In your effort to hit your goals, it’s important to realize that finding the happy medium is harder than choosing extremes. And most of us just don’t want to put in the work to find that happy medium.

Having trouble doing so? Click here to get my free grocery shopping guide. Or feel free to message me.

Latest posts
4 reasons you’re not losing weight eating less

You're not crazy if eating less isn't working for you. Here are important weight loss facts to remember.

What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease? And what you should do.

By 2040 over half of the population globally will have NAFLD, why is no one talking about it?