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Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight – without having to count calories

LIMITING your meals to a specific time period each day could help you lose weight, experts have claimed.

Intermittent fasting is a way of shedding the pounds, looking after your health and most importantly – the plan means you don’t have to count calories.

Many people who fast intermittently will have days where they don’t eat, while others will restrict their food for anywhere between 10 and 20 hours.

A recent study found that fasting periods don’t have to be long for your weight loss journey to be successful.

While many advocates of the diet give themselves an eight hour window to eat each day, research published in Cell Metabolism found that shorter periods of fasting were just as good.

In order to test the effectiveness of intermittent fasting, a research team at the University of Chicago compared 58 adults with obesity.

They were split into three groups and each followed a different diet for a 10 week period.

One group ate between 3pm and 7pm, fasting for 20 hours.

Group two ate between 1pm and 7pm – fasting for 18 hours.

Group three ate a normal diet at usual intervals.

The researchers found that both groups who had followed the intermittent fasting plan lost around 3 per cent of their body weight and there was no difference in the two groups as to which group had lost more weight than the other.

Krista Varady, professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago and co-author of the study said 18 hours could be enough.

In a statement she said: “Until we have further studies that directly compare the two diets or seek to study the optimal time for fasting, these results suggest that the 6-hour fast might make sense for most people who want to pursue a daily fasting diet.”

The study suggests that most people lose weight as they are unable to consume large amounts of calories when they are not fasting.

During their eating windows participants could eat whatever they wanted and had to stick to water and zero calorie drinks in between.

Fasting groups ate around 550 calories less than the group that ate at regular intervals.

When it comes to overall health, some participants said they felt dizzy in the first few weeks, while others experienced headaches and fatigue.

After three weeks these symptoms went away, showing that the body needs time to adjust to a new diet.

Participants in the fasting group also showed improvements in stress levels and insulin resistance 10 weeks into the programme.

Others who use intermittent fasting hail the plan and many say it’s easier to follow than most people expect.

Speaking to The Sun, one intermittent fasting advocate Lara, 27, from London, said she accidentally started intermittent fasting during the coronavirus lockdown.

Lara eats between 12pm and 8pm each day, fasting for 16 hours.

“I realised I’d been doing it unwittingly for nearly a week, a lot of friends had raved about it so I decided to carry on”, she said.

Lara has been following the plan for three months now and said she usually has a big brunch at midday and another big meal around 6pm.

“It’s actually been way easier than I expected. It suits me because I have a big appetite so having two bigger portions works well.

“It’s been easy in lockdown, but as I start to socialise more it might get harder. I’ve definitely lost weight, my clothes feel looser and I feel energised”, she added.

Further studies into intermittent fasting have shown that even if you don’t lose weight there are multiple benefits.

The New England Journal of Medicine previously found that intermittent fasting can help control blood sugar levels and ward off disease and illnesses.

Intermittent fasting allows the body to switch between two sources of fuel – glucose and ketones.

Researchers state that it is this that is responsible for the benefits of intermittent fasting.

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