Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves the scheduling of meals in order to reap maximum benefits. I did an experiment of intermittent fasting for 3 months on myself to see the fat percent change benefits of this technique. I used a Tanita body fat monitor that had been calibrated by Hydrostatic underwater weighing. I was not very impressed with the fat percent change but it did have other benefits for me.
Note that I am a woman and my body type is very large boned (kapha, endomorph, “fat”, stocky, large, high bmi, high fat free mass index, muscular…whatever you want to call it) and your results may vary.
How Intermittent Fasting Works
This kind of fasting does not necessarily change what you eat but when you eat it.
When we eat, we often ingest more food energy than the body can immediately use. For this reason, with the help of the insulin hormone, some of the excess energy is stored for later use.
Sugars are usually converted into glycogen, which is stored in the liver, while excess glucose is turned into fat.
It is claimed that fasting works by allowing your body to burn excessive body fat, which is in form of stored food energy. This helps in providing energy for the remaining body cells.
What Are Some of the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a technique that is claimed to have a myriad of benefits. Ideally, the fasting period is often looked at as a body cleansing, detoxification or purification period. By abstaining from food, your body system is supposedly able to clear itself of any toxins and in turn become rejuvenated. Some of the key claimed benefits of intermittent fasting include:
1. Improved Mental Clarity and Concentration
This kind of fasting is believed to have a wide range of incredible benefits to different brain functions. For instance, it is claimed you will experience improved cognitive function, brain power or mental agility. Fasting has been around for a long time.
You often experience mental sharpness when hungry or feel tired and slothful after a heavy meal. Studies have shown that the fasting can also help in preventing Alzheimer’s and other neuro-degenerative diseases.
I definitely noticed a change in my mental state. There is a very definite clarity when you are fasting for a long time. However fasting for more than one meal a day also increased my anxiety levels to an amount I was not comfortable with.
2. Body Fat and Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting is claimed to play a very significant role in ensuring systematic fat loss. Note that although not all calories are equal, through fasting, it becomes easier to restrict caloric intake over a period. And that usually helps in ensuring there is consistent weight loss as well as maintenance of the same.
It is claimed that unlike regular calorie restriction you are not lowering your metabolism at the same time.
In my experience, the weight was just gained back again slowly after stopping the longer intermittent fasting, just like with any type of other calorie restriction. It does not reset your set point permanently. Also my lean weight was reduced at the same rate as the fat, so my body fat percent stayed constant even though I lost 3% of my body weight.
My body fat is slightly higher than the recommended amount for my age and gender. This increase correlated with a worsening of my blood sugar levels as well as menopause. Your results may vary.
3. Diabetes Control
Whether you already have the type 2 diabetes or you are at higher risk of acquiring diabetes and therefore are constantly worrying about your blood sugar, intermittent fasting might be solution to your plight.
Through fasting, many people have been able to naturally normalize their blood sugar and reverse type 2 diabetes without using pills. I am not a doctor, so this is not medical advice. Please consult your physician before doing a fast if you are on diabetes medication.
I usually fast through breakfast but I found fasting through lunch and dinner to be too difficult. It made me dizzy, nauseous and over concerned with food. I did for sure find a lowering of blood sugar. I prefer a low carbohydrate diet mixed with missing breakfast and some light medication to control my type 2 diabetes.
4. Lowered Blood Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a unique substance that is particularly used in repairing body cells and making certain hormones. High levels of cholesterol in your body system or blood is linked with different cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart attack.
However, many studies have reliably shown that decreasing dietary cholesterol or fat does not usually reduce your blood cholesterol. This can be attributed to the fact that about 80 percent of blood cholesterol is usually generated by your liver. On the other hand, intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy which can significantly reduce your cholesterol levels.
My doctor and I did notice an improvement of my cholesterol numbers when I combined light intermittent fasting (one meal a day) with a low carb diet of around 30 to 60 g of carbs a day over 6 months. This is a high fat diet so the results were counter intuitive.
I did not notice any anti aging, but my test was probably too short to notice anything one way or another.
Intermittent fasting is also known to help in reducing inflammation, activating cellular cleansing and potentially boosting a person’s life span.
I did notice an improvement in my C reactive protein levels after combining intermittent fasting with a low carb diet.
The best thing about intermittent fasting for many people is that the technique does not require you to change your diet, is quick and convenient. It is also not costly and has been proved to be quite effective for certain health problems.
Click here to learn about how to do intermittent fasting.
How To Lose Body Fat Percent If Not With Intermittent Fasting
I have tried a few ways to lose body fat percent ever since I got my first Tanita body far meter in 1998. I felt I needed to lose some body fat percentage points since I have always been a percent or two over the recommended amount for my age. Since I am way outside the norm for size for a woman, the monitor was 16.5% off compared to the hydrostatic weigh, so maybe that one or two points was not significant but I wanted to be safer than sorrier for my health.
Over 20 years I have tried:
- Heavy calorie restriction with a moderately low carb/ low glycemic index diet
- Light calorie restriction with a moderately low carb/ low glycemic index diet and intense weight lifting
- Walking 2 to 4 miles a day 5x a week and a moderately low carb/low glycemic index diet with no calorie restriction
- Intermittent Fasting with a moderate low carb diet
- Intermittent Fasting lightly with very low carb diet
- Light weights with HIIT workouts and moderate low carb diet with no calorie restriction
The best results I have had for lowering my body fat a few percentage points was intense weight lifting with a trainer coupled with light calorie restriction on a moderately low carb diet. All the rest had no real effect on fat percentage.
With the intense weight lifting and low carb calorie restriction, my lean weight went down while my fat weight went down faster. Overall that lead to a lower fat percent over 3 years time of about 3%. Pretty paltry IMO. I lost 8% of my weight during that time.
I did gain all of the fat percentage points back within 3 months of stopping however. I also gained the weight back over 3 years as with all calorie restriction diets. This was in my mid 40s when my weight was naturally increasing. Generally weight increases through age 50 – 55 then decreases again.
I feel the calorie restriction did damage to my emotional and mental well being and I would not recommend it. I struggled with a pretty severe eating disorder in my teens where I lost about 33% of my natural body weight and any calorie restriction tends to trigger a lot of bad thoughts in me. It did flatten my stomach a bit though.
The intense weight lifting made me constantly sore and I really didn’t like the way I looked with even more prominent muscles than I have naturally, although it did make me feel invincible physically.
I have huge muscles for a woman and I look like a line backer’s mother, so that is just my own experience. I didn’t like the bulging muscles in my legs and glutes.
So I guess the answer to losing fat percentage in a healthy way is that there is none that I have discovered yet.
Read about how you can have a high BMI and be a healthy fat percentage here!