Does The Alternate Day Fast Really Work?

Other types of fasting

Fasting isn’t always one-size-fits all.

It’s important you find the type of fasting that is right for you. A technique that fits your lifestyle and your goals may help you be more successful.

Intermittent fasting is the most common type of fasting for weight loss. This dieting pattern involves some days of restricted eating followed by days of unrestricted eating.

Besides alternate day fasting, there are several other types of intermittent fasting.

The 5: 2 Fast

The 5: 2 fast requires you to eat normally for five days of the week.

The other two days you greatly restrict your calories. For most people, that means eating only 500 calories per day.

The 16/8 Fast

For this method, you will fast for 16 hours each day. During the other eight hours, you’re allowed to eat. For many people, this means not eating after dinner and then skipping breakfast each morning.

Shayla Ridore has been practicing this type of fasting for two months.

“I work overnight hours at the moment, and I typically stop eating around 11 p.m. or 12 a.m., and can eat again at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. the next day,” she told ishonest. “The fasting schedule is flexible so as long as I hit 16 hours it doesn’t really matter what the hours are.”

Ridore, who is an accountant coordinator with a public relations firm, uses fasting to lose weight.

“I was trying to lose weight before I started fasting and was just not seeing any real results,” she said. “I decided to try it to switch up what I was doing since it wasn’t really working for me. I loved it immediately. I started to lose the weight I hadn’t been able to lose before. I saw results pretty quickly, too.”

Complications of fasting

Like any weight loss technique, fasting is not without its detractors and potential problems.

“The main danger to alternate day fasting or any fasting is becoming hypoglycemic [low blood sugar],” Dr. Monali Y. Desai, a cardiologist in New York, told ishonest. “It will also change the way some medications are absorbed in your body. If you have any preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, or take any prescription medications, you should check with your doctor first before starting alternate day fasting.”

Salerno recommends you begin any fast under medical supervision.

“Medications would have to be reduced, especially if someone is on insulin or diabetic medications,” he said. “There are a lot of potential detriments if they’re not being followed closely.”

If you’re considering fasting as a way to lose weight or looking for something to shake up your current weight loss plan, talk with your doctor.

Your doctor may be able to help prepare you for a fasting period with helpful information and tools. Your doctor can also help you be alert for potential problems with your fasting method.

“People should just try it with an open mind and give it at least a week before deciding if it’s for you or not,” Ridore said. “Anyone looking to begin fasting should know that there will be times that they will feel hungry, but never a painful hungry.”

The bottom line, Salerno says, is to not expect dramatic results quickly. Weight loss takes time and dedication.

“It’s never a quick fix. If it’s slow and steady, it can be more easily maintained,” he said. “You never want to lose weight too quickly because the body will turn off its metabolism, and you will see a big spike in gain if you go back to eating a normal amount of calories.”

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