Fasting to Weight Loss; Or Is It?


The interest to lose some pounds is rapidly growing and this is brought about by the desire to get our sexy back while trying to be healthy to keep lifestyle diseases at bay.  This desire has contributed to the majority of those in the weight loss journey to opt for a quick fix by adopting the various diet fads which may bring about rapid weight loss but are not sustainable.  The current practice that has taken the majority by storm is intermittent fasting.

Fasting is one of the longest religious practice that is highlighted as a way of getting closer to their God (read Supreme being) however, this practice has now been adopted by various individuals to accelerate their weight loss.  The many questions those who have not yet indulged in have in mind are; What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)? is it effective? How sustainable is it? How do I go about doing it? And is it safe for everyone?

IF is an eating cycle that juggles between eating time and when to fast and there are several techniques to go about it.  Among them are;

  1. Alternate-Day Fasting: This eating pattern involves fasting every other day. On fast days, one can eat either very small amounts of food or refrain altogether. On the non-fast days, one can enjoy a normal diet rich in healthy, nutrient-rich ingredients.
  2. 16/8 Diet: This type of fasting entails limiting your food intake to an eight-hour block of time each day. This can be customized based on the individual’s schedule although some people prefer to eat between 1-9 pm.
  3. 5:2 Diet: This diet allows you to follow a normal, healthy diet for five days out of the week whereas, on the remaining two days, one should minimize their intake to 500-600 calories per day.
  4. Eat-Stop-Eat: With this method, you pick one or two non-consecutive days during the week and abstain from eating for 24 hours straight. During the other days, you can eat normally as you would throughout the week.
  5. The Warrior Diet: On this plan, you should only eat fruits and vegetables during the day, followed by one large meal each evening.

If there is one mode of dieting that requires extreme discipline is fasting.  It is important to note that when you initialize the fasting process, your body goes into a conservation mode where calories are burned more slowly.  However, the initial weight lost is ‘water weight’ and not fat and in case one goes back to their former eating habits all the weight is regained. To some their concern is muscle loss, well, with every weight loss diet, muscle is lost and it is therefore important to maintain the muscle with exercise.

With IF, the extreme diet is the OMAD (One Meal A Day) diet which involves fasting for 23 hours and eating within one hour.  This has been shown to also contribute to weight loss as it involves a reduced caloric intake, however, it is close to impossible for the majority of people engaged in this diet to eat nutrient-dense foods within one hour.  During the fasting hours, one is allowed to take water and unsweetened caffeinated drinks and tea.

Besides weight loss, IF has been shown to have health benefits namely, increase fat burning, lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and rejuvenating the system.  Regardless of the benefits, when done for a long time, the body may respond by reducing the metabolism rate which may have detrimental effects among them weight gain.

We know weight loss is desired by some if not all but despite this, IF is not safe for everyone.  Anyone under medication, pregnant, lactating, with diabetes, underweight, has had a history of eating disorders, those with low blood pressure, a woman trying to conceive or has had a history of amenorrhea and even kids are exempted from trying out this diet.

In conclusion, this diet can be adopted but done in moderation and with the help of your dietitian.  For the long haul, to maintain a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating habits and maintaining some form of physical activity are encouraged.


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