Intermittent Fasting Basics | How Does Intermittent Fasting Affect the Body | When Will I See Results? | What Type of Results Should I Expect?
The concept behind intermittent fasting is simple. It’s a schedule of when to eat and when not to eat, which is known as an eating window and fasting window. There aren’t any rules as to which foods are “off limits” and which ones to eat. It is cyclical, which is why it often flows so well with other rhythms in the body. But are you wondering “How long does intermittent fasting take to work?”.
If you are just starting your intermittent fasting journey, it can be hard to stick with it at first. You may feel like you have to skip dinner with friends because it’s not during your eating window. Or, those pesky hunger pangs may sneak up at night and make it difficult to stay in your fasting period.
Whatever the case may be, things become a little easier when you start to see the results of all your hard work. You know that intermittent fasting is a long-term strategy for better overall health, but until you see ACTUAL changes in your own body weight or health conditions, it can be hard to stay motivated.
So, the real question is “How long does intermittent fasting take to work?” Well, you have come to the right place because, in this article, we will review a couple of intermittent fasting basics, how intermittent fasting affects your body when you can expect to see intermittent fasting results, and how different intermittent fasting schedules can contribute to those results. Let’s dive in!
Intermittent Fasting Basics
A good place to start before we get into results is to make sure we understand intermittent fasting basics and how you can make intermittent fasting work for your health goals. Intermittent fasting is a simple concept, especially when compared to other popular diets.
All of your calories are consumed within an eating window while the other part of the day (or days), calories are restricted.
Things like water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea can be consumed during a fasting window and will not break your fast. Through this calorie restriction, you end up eating fewer calories overall which leads to weight loss results.
There are also metabolic changes that happen when the body is fasting for some time. This is why intermittent fasting is known as the perfect storm when it comes to aiding in weight loss.
It not only works through reducing calorie intake but also works at the cellular level to change how well the body burns fat. Keep reading as we cover more on this below.
The type of fasting that you choose depends on your personal schedule, lifestyle, and work. Many choose a schedule that also pairs with their physical activity routine. Whatever schedule that you choose, it’s still important to remember to eat healthy foods through a balanced diet.
This would include foods such as lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. The first meal and the last meal of your eating window are especially meals to be balanced as this can set you up for a successful fasting window. This can also curb some of those late-night cravings as well!
How Does Intermittent Fasting Affect the Body?
Now that we have a basic understanding of how intermittent fasting works, let’s look at how intermittent fasting affects the body. Many turn to intermittent fasting as a weight loss strategy to speed up fat loss. Numerous studies have shown that it is an effective tool for weight loss.
The average American diet consists of a constant eating cycle. This eating pattern starts as soon as we wake up with three meals each day, plus snacks throughout the day and maybe even into the night. Our bodies never get the chance to rest from the digestion of this food and focus on other tasks like restoration and repair.
However, when we allow for fasting hours or even fasting days (such as alternate-day fasting), the body can undergo what is called metabolic switching. At 12 hours in a fasted state, liver glycogen stores are depleted and the body switches to burning stored fat for energy. Long term, this leads to more sustainable weight loss while also preserving muscle mass.
But, intermittent fasting has many other health benefits apart from weight loss alone. A closer look at what the research says in terms of how intermittent fasting affects the body, reveals that it works at the cellular level as well.
A New England Journal of Medicine review looked at several studies that showed the effects of intermittent fasting on overall health and aging. Our cells adapt to periods of fasting and can improve insulin sensitivity (through overall lower insulin levels), reduce inflammation, and are better able to defend against metabolic stress.
Intermittent fasting also allows for cellular repair through a process called autophagy. This means that the body destroys certain cells that are damaged as well as harmful pathogens. When the body consistently goes through autophagy, studies have demonstrated that this can lead to healthier brain aging with even the potential to slow aging and reverse certain disease processes.
How Long Does Intermittent Fasting Take To Work?
Let’s get to the real question at hand and answer, “How long does intermittent fasting take to work?’ This is the question on most people’s minds when they start their intermittent fasting diet. The answer to this question is, it depends.
Some people notice the pounds falling off after the first week of intermittent fasting while others take a month or two to notice. Intermittent fasting is more of a long-term strategy for health.
Once you start, you may not notice any results the next day or even the next week. According to a collection of over 40 research studies, most participants lost an average of 7-11 pounds over 10 weeks.
This isn’t to say that it will take 10 weeks before you will see any changes. A good rule of thumb for sustainable weight loss is an average of 1-2 pounds lost per week. When you lose weight too quickly, it makes it more likely that you will gain back the weight you have lost. Many people start experiencing positive benefits from intermittent fasting even after one or two weeks.
See here for the experience and results of 30 real people following intermittent fasting.
Since every individual has different health goals and may be at different points in their health journey, the time frame for seeing results can vary as well. For example, you may have seen a friend or coworker drop 20 pounds in the first month of starting intermittent fasting.
But, that won’t be the case for every person. Different factors affect when you can see results such as:
- Starting weight
- Certain chronic diseases
Aside from health-related factors, other factors that can cause varying results include different intermittent fasting schedules, physical activity, and how consistently you can stick with your plan.
When you first start, think of trying different intermittent fasting schedules as an experiment. Whether you choose to fast during certain days of the week or only for 12 hours each day, you need to pick a schedule that works for you.
Only you can determine what is working and what isn’t working for your schedule and all of this will depend on things like your work schedule, exercise times, as well as social and family commitments.
If you still aren’t seeing results after a month or two, there could be other reasons for why it’s not working. Read here about 8 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight on Intermittent Fasting.
What Type of Results Should I Expect?
The results from intermittent fasting can vary from person to person, but studies show a few consistent health benefits that someone can expect while following an intermittent fasting plan.
Weight loss is often why someone chooses to start intermittent fasting in the first place and this is usually one of the first things that people notice after following an intermittent fasting routine. However, the first week of a new intermittent fasting routine can be the most challenging, as many people experience side effects such as fatigue, irritability, and intense hunger cravings.
The benefits of intermittent fasting extend beyond weight loss and can help with certain medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Studies show that other health benefits of intermittent fasting can include:
It may take longer to see some of the health benefits mentioned above, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen eventually. Consistency is key when starting any new diet plan, so make sure you have given yourself enough time before giving up.
If you are new to intermittent fasting, check out our Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting.
The question on everyone’s mind when first starting intermittent fasting is, “How long does intermittent fasting take to work?”. As we discussed in this article, it can depend on a variety of factors.
Some may see results in the first 1-2 weeks, while others may not see results for a month or two. Regardless of when you see your first results, keeping a consistent schedule with sufficient calorie intake, and a balanced diet with healthy foods can go a long way in getting the most out of your intermittent fasting experience.
Check out these 18/6 Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss Results 1 Month.
Before starting any new diet plan, it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider.