While nearly 2/3 of the nation is overweight or obese, there is a constant search for the “magic” weight loss method. Many people have turned to various forms of fasting to lose weight, often called intermittent fasting. While some studies have found intermittent fasting to be more effective than continuous energy restriction (or a daily reduction of calories) on short-term weight loss, an overview of the literature demonstrates that intermittent fasting and continuous energy restriction provide similar results in terms of weight loss. Therefore, intermittent fasting should be thought of as more of a tool to lose weight instead of “The Gold Standard”.
The reason most people are successful at losing weight when engaging in intermittent fasting is because they are limiting their window of eating, thus limiting their overall calorie intake for the day. We should aim to lose weight gradually instead of using fast fad diets that drop weight quickly and can alter metabolism, causing a yo-yo dieting effect on weight. It is best to lose half a pound to 2 pounds a week. It all comes down to energy balance. Think about a scale. If we are taking in more calories (energy) than we need, we will gain weight. If we take in less calories (energy) than we need, we will lose weight. If we take in the right amount of calories for our needs, we will maintain weight.
On top of diet, exercise is key to promoting weight loss. If you are finding yourself in the same routine, try switching things up. You may need to increase the amount of physical activity you’re doing, the frequency, or the intensity. You may also want to try exercises you’re not used to doing. For example, an avid runner may benefit from incorporating a few days of resistance training if they aren’t already. For most adults, 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity is needed per week to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but closer to 5 hours a week may be needed if you have hit a plateau in your weight loss journey.
There are several factors to consider when it comes to your individual nutrient needs. For more personalized nutrition, speak with a registered dietitian to find out what eating pattern is best for you.
Written by Victoria Luera, Lone Star Circle of Care Registered Dietitian