20/4 Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
20/4 intermittent fasting (IF) is a diet strategy mainly used for weight loss or weight maintenance, although there are claims of other benefits such as slowed aging and better cognitive function. Although IF can lead to weight loss, it isn’t really any more effective than a solid nutritional plan and exercise program; plus, it can be challenging to maintain for many people.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of intermittent fasting, the potential drawbacks, and whether or not 20/4 intermittent fasting is right for you.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a dieting strategy to restrict or eliminate your calorie intake for a specific timeframe. Sometimes, no food is eaten for a day or two each week, every other day, or part of each day. With other methods, calories are considerably reduced for some days of the week. Each type of intermittent fasting is designed to reduce your calorie intake over time and help you maintain or lose weight, although some people use it for other purposes. (See also: Can My Chiropractor Help Me Lose A Few Pounds? )
What is 20/4 Intermittent Fasting
The intermittent fasting method, known as 20/4, is when you limit the time you consume food to only 4 hours of the day. The other 20 hours of the day, you are fasting and not eating anything. This kind of IF is called time-restricted fasting (TRF). So, if you sleep through the night for 7 hours, you have 17 hours left of the day, 4 hours of which you can eat your meals. Some people like to keep these hours in the middle of the day, such as 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, to have a regular dinner with their family. Others prefer to eat as soon as they get up to prevent hunger.
Other types of time-restricted fasting, such as 16/8, may be more manageable for beginners or those who still wish to have mealtimes with their family or co-workers.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
The benefits of time-restricted feeding such as 20/4 intermittent fasting include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced hunger and cravings, and lower blood pressure. You can also get these benefits from losing weight due to other healthy diets that reduce calories.
Some research suggests that you should keep eating time to the morning hours if you want the most benefits from time-restricted fasting. In the case of 20/4 IF, this would be from when you eat breakfast, say at 8 am, until noon. People who stuck to eating in the early hours of the day only did not eat at night, a time where food choices are notoriously worse. (Check out: How Losing Weight Affects Your Body and Brain )
We all know what it’s like to come home at the end of the day, and if we are hungry, decision fatigue sets in, and we reach for the most convenient foods. These are not always healthy as tiredness can lead us to choose foods higher in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and fats. If this is something that you struggle with, or if you are typically a late-night snacker in front of the TV, choosing an early eating window can help prevent these less desirable habits from continuing.
Drawbacks of Intermittent Fasting
A potential drawback of intermittent fasting is that it is hard to maintain for very long as with any restrictive diet regime. While some people may find intermittent fasting freeing, allowing them to eat freely during the feeding hours, some people might find the fasting period too tricky, especially in social settings or over time.
One thing to watch out for with time-restricted feeding is that many people think what they eat and how much they eat during the feeding period doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. While this strategy might work at first, as your body adjusts, you will not lose weight if you are eating too many calories during the feeding period. It is wise to consume healthy, balanced meals when it’s time to eat. If you hit a plateau, you might want to track your food intake for a while to see how much you are eating overall.
If you are an athlete or someone very active, 20/4 IF might be detrimental to your performance. If you are not fueling your body correctly in time for exercise, you could feel weak, unmotivated, and tired. There is no concrete evidence that exercising in a fasted state is beneficial to fat loss and can hinder your progress over time.
How to Know if Intermittent Fasting is Right For You
Any diet that works for you is a diet that works. However, be careful going on and off different diets. Science says that losing and regaining weight over and over is worse for your health. Every time you lose weight, you lose some muscle mass, especially if you do not pair weight loss with enough protein or resistance training. When you lose muscle, your metabolism suffers. Your body adjusts to the low-calorie intake, and when you stop your diet, you will regain weight—but now your metabolism is more efficient, meaning you burn fewer calories during the day. (Read also: How to Lose Weight In 12 Weeks )
Choose a diet that you can maintain for the long term. If 20/4 intermittent fasting works for your lifestyle and you can maintain it or transition off of it slowly and carefully, it could be worth a try. Remember that if you try and fail at IF, that doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight or that you may as well go back to healthy eating patterns. Eat healthy meals in balanced portion sizes and exercise. Sometimes the answer is more simple than we realize.
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