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The Fourth Step Toward Losing Weight Quickly

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Choosing the best time to fast.

If there is a fourth thing that you can do today to start on the road to losing weight quickly it is to adopt my suggested recommendation of the only fasting method you will ever really need.

[With a new focus on how to lose weight during 2021, future Emaxhealth articles will follow the exploits of the intrepid Dr. Boyer as he reviews and re-evaluates past weight loss health articles and puts what he has learned into actual practice in a personal weight loss experiment to help others discover what works and does not work while trying to lose weight.]


The First 20 Pounds in 44 Days

After 44 days into my dieting experiment borrowing from a selection of past Emaxhealth articles, both my slacks and my scales have confirmed that I have lost a total of 20 pounds. Not too shabby, but it’s not over yet. I still have another 20 pounds to go and the real test is to see if I can avoid the dreaded rebound weight gain that is the bane of so many dieting efforts.

Just to rehash what’s worked so far, here is what it took:

Cutting out all extra sugar. In particular beverages that come in meal-equivalent calorie count content.
Learning to say “No” to bread. More specifically, white bread and all refined carb sources.
Adopting a high protein style diet. This keeps metabolism up and cravings down. More eggs and meat than normal, but also an increase in plant protein as well.

However, there is a fourth step I used that I believe was almost as important as cutting out sugar: fasting from 7 pm to 8 am the next day—every day.

Fasting for Weight Loss

The internet is filled with almost as many articles and recommendations on fasting for weight loss as there are articles on keto and other popular dieting methods. And, Emaxhealth has covered a number of those articles.

A few years ago, I reported about whether intermittent fasting really does work for weight loss.

For the most part, intermittent fasting typically comes in two flavors—24-hour and 16/8 fasts.

The 24-hour fast is one in which essentially, all you do is choose 2 days of the week that are non-consecutive and simply avoid all foods and stick to just water or some cleansing tonic recommended for weight loss.

The 16/8 fast is one in which you gradually shorten your eating period to an 8-hour time slot while leaving the remaining consecutive 16 hours as a time for fasting. And then you do this every day until you’ve reached your weight loss goal.

In fact, there are many variations of fasting dieting, and it can be confusing to dieters as to which variant works best.

For example, recently, I returned to fasting as a topic when a study addressed whether choosing your meal times with an eye toward some variation of intermittent fasting, is a dieting method that may work for some dieters.

Time Restricted Eating Study Result Surprises Weight Loss Experts

And, this one where participants in a time-restricted feeding diet study were instructed to eat only between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. compared to another group instructed to follow a 6-hour time-restricted feeding diet were they were instructed to eat only between the hours of 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Choosing Your Fasting Diet Time Limit

Traditional Fasting

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Other, more traditional approaches to fasting as a way to lose weight typically entailed longer fasting periods that could range from a single day to a week! Did they work? In some instances they did, but the results overall were as mixed as those for intermittent type fasting.

One example of the power of fasting that led to some pretty impressive results can be seen in the link below; however, it relied on some pretty extreme fasting measures.

Keto Gets Half Way, but Water Fasting Leads Him To 200 lb. Weight Loss

On the other side of the debate on fasting, some studies indicate that fasting can lead to dieting failure and leave a dieter even heavier than they were before they started dieting.

Intermittent Fasting Can Make You Gain Weight, Says New Study

However, if I had to pick one article on fasting advice that makes the most sense to me is this one titled “Can Fasting Help Me Lose Weight?” by Emaxhealth editor and writer Armen Hareyan who has extensive experience with how to approach fasting and stick with it.

So, does fasting have any place in a weight loss plan? Yes it does. Periodic fasting is one of the secrets of a long and healthy life. Our body's digestive organs require a rest from time to time, just as we require days off from work. One-day fasting done in a methodical and regular manner provides the kind of rest that helps our digestive system, aids in the elimination of toxins from our body, and, yes, also helps us to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way,” wrote Mr. Hareyan.

My Fasting Method

So, what about fasting for my dieting experiment? I have to be honest, while others may find popular fasting methods as beneficial for multiple reasons, my gut tells me that there is a more commonsense approach to fasting. To me, the only fast that makes sense and works reliably (and is easy to adopt) is to not eat between the hours of 7 pm and 8 am the next day. In other words, no food after dinner time until breakfast the next day—putting the “fast” in “breakfast” if you will.

From what I’ve read over the years, weight gain is largely about your insulin levels. If you are constantly feeding the body and experience multiple and prolonged insulin spikes, you are going to gain weight. There’s no way around that, unless you are an Olympic swimmer.

I am reminded of a special on TV I once watched that followed the lives of Sumo wrestlers. A fascinating subject. But what made the biggest impression on me was that how the wrestlers achieved their required excess body weight relied on two things: eating big and multiple meals, followed by taking naps immediately afterward.

I suspect that the before-bedtime dessert is second only to eating too much sugar as a cause of excess body fat for most of us. That, and most desserts are sugar-laden anyways, so this is a double whammy against dieting success.

What I found from fasting every night was that it helped me listen to what my body was saying to me while dieting. Typically, if I felt some gnawing in my gut in the early morning hours, I knew that I had reached a good balance in calories consumed the day before and that my body was actively burning away some fat. If I did not feel that nagging gnaw at some point while sleeping, it was a fair indication that I probably ate more than my body really needed.

Yes, that early morning gnaw can be difficult—at first. But my experience is that it lessens over time and you can train yourself to roll over and go back to sleep until it’s time to get up and have breakfast.

The Experiment Continues

This weekend, I will end my brief respite from dieting and will adopt a new dieting method to hopefully shake off my weight loss plateau and work toward tackling the next 20 pounds.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Courtesy of Susann Mielke from Pixabay "> Pixabay