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Fasting for Weight Loss

Hi Clare, I need your help!

I have read conflicting information about fasting versus not fasting! One source says to eat within 30 minutes of waking. Another suggests fasting for a total of 12 to 15 hours, so only eating at say, 10am.

What do you think works best in terms of the body using up stored energy versus hanging onto it for fear it won't be fed again for a while?!

- - - KK

hungryreduce the amount of food consumed

Clare's Response

Hi KK,

So, firstly, not one pattern suits all, and there is not a 'right or wrong' answer to this. You need to work out what will work for you when it comes to any intake, especially a fasting-style intake. There is a lot of talk about fasting at the moment, with its popularity rising because lots of people have been really successful with weight loss when they have tried it. Although on saying that, many people try it and can not do it, for varying reasons. I can't do it! I get extremely shaky (low blood glucose levels) and hangry if I don't eat for that long.

There are also many different types of fasting diets, often it is just the window of fasting that is a different length. For example, a 14-hour window might go from 7 pm dinner to 9 am breakfast. Or a 16-hour window would be eating 7 pm dinner to 11 am the next morning. You can change this to suit you as well. Effectively you are missing a meal for the day. There is also the 5:2 diet which involves choosing two days each week where you eat only 500 to 600 Calories per day but eat normally the other 5 days.

The main key point is if this way of eating suits your lifestyle, and can you fit it in with your pattern of work, having the kids etc.

The second main thing to note is that the reason these ways of eating are successful for some is it is facilitating a reduction in calories across the week. So if you are having a later breakfast (if your work allows the time for it), you will more likely eat less over the rest of the day because you have less time to eat. Although, some (which are those who are unsuccessful at fasting) will get the rebound hunger and end up eating more for the evening meal because they have not been satisfied during the day and are too hungry.

So if you can skip breakfast, and eat at mid-morning or later without trouble, try it for a few weeks and see how you feel. I always recommend people take a break from lowered-calorie eating, because in the longer term (more than about 4 weeks) that's when your body's metabolism will start to decline to compensate for the fact that you are eating less than you need.

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Weight Loss Extra

There are no simple answers. You should keep a healthy weight, consider one of these diets, though exercise is also important.

Sports Nutrition Extra

Athlete nutrition isn't just about weight loss. It is important to fuel the body optimally before, during and after exercise, as well as to stay hydrated. Supplements may also be required.

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