Intermittent Fasting: Benefits, How It Works, and Is It Right for You?

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Published: December 12, 2022

You have probably heard about intermittent fasting somewhere. Maybe you heard it from a friend or a trainer who recommended it to you, especially if you complained about not being able to shake the last few kilos. It can sometimes be challenging to lose weight, especially those stubborn few fat deposits, and researchers and scientists around the world are claiming that this way of eating on a schedule can actually help you. There are a few different patterns, but the last results say that it is not important what you eat but when you eat. If you wanted to try intermittent fasting but were unsure if it was right for you – DubaiPT Personal Trainers explain everything you need to know about it and how it can benefit you!

What is intermittent fasting?

First of all, you should know that the origins of fasting go back to ancient times. Back then, it was a common practice to help heal the body. Also, you can find its roots in religion, where it is believed it will deepen your connection to your faith. The best example of that is the holy month of Ramadan, where you fast from dawn to dusk.

An alarm clock on a table with a small plant behind it
Intermittent fasting is a regimen where you have fasting and eating periods.

Basically, intermittent fasting is a pattern of times when you can and cannot eat. There are different types of fasting. The most common option is to eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 hours a day. People often choose that as their starting ritual since it can be a great way to ease your way into fasting.

Besides losing weight, there are many different reasons to choose this type of eating regimen. Some people do it to gain muscles. Sometimes, their personal trainer for muscle gain recommends intermittent fasting. But they also provide a list of foods that are rich in proteins and high in calories.

How does intermittent fasting work?

The main idea behind intermittent fasting is that restricting food makes your body tap out fat stores for energy more quickly and efficiently. You prolong the period when your body burns through the calories consumed in your last meal and begins burning fat. After hours without food, the body will exhaust its stored sugar and start burning fat. It is no wonder that a lot of people lose weight easily, especially if they also work with a personal trainer for weight loss. And with so many different intermittent fasting schedules, you will find one that suits you with ease. Make sure to choose the one that is not too hard and that leaves you feeling energized.

Fasting plans

Before you start your intermittent fasting plan, it is important to consult your doctor. Once you get the approval to start fasting, you can choose the intermittent fasting plan that suits you. One of the methods that people choose most often is the daily approach mentioned before. In this regimen, you eat for 8 hours and fast for 16. If you need guidance through the beginning of your fasting, you can look for different meal plans in Dubai. With a little bit of help, you will adjust fairly easily.

a person holding a donut and an apple
Although you can eat everything in the eating window – it is important to choose healthier food!

Also, you can try the 5:2 approach. This means that you will eat regularly for five days a week, and on the other 2 days, you should limit yourself to one meal that shouldn’t have more than 600 calories. For example, those days can be Tuesday and Saturday. Keep in mind that you should stay hydrated on these days. Hydrating is crucial, especially if you live in a place with such a hot climate as Dubai.

Also, there are regimens where you go without food for longer periods, like 24, 36, 48, or 72 hours. But they are not always a good solution, and they can be dangerous. You can even encourage your body to start storing more fat as a response to starvation.

Here is a list of the most common fasting plant:

  • The 5:2 – This diet limits calorie intake to two days per week to 500 kcal per day for women and 600 kcal per day for men. For the remaining 5 days, women should eat up to 2000 kcal, and men should eat 2400 kcal.
  • Diet 6:1 – this implies regular food intake for six days a week and 24-hour fasting once a week.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat Diet – A 6:1 diet variation that can include two 24-hour fasts per week.
  • Diet 16:8 – implies eating 2 meals for 8 hours a day and the remaining 16 hours fasting.

Is intermittent fasting the best solution for you?

The best thing that you can do is to determine why you want to do intermittent fasting and do you plan to do it forever or for a couple of months. People mostly try fasting so they can lose weight, but if fasting isn’t something you can do for a long period, it is highly likely you will gain your weight back. There are different weight loss diets plan options that are easier and better for you, so make sure to explore all of your options before you decide whether you will do intermittent fasting.

Also, take a moment and think about your eating habits. If you like to snack a lot in the evening or even during the night, intermittent fasting can actually help you with that. It is important to be honest with yourself and choose a regimen that you will be able to stick to.

What can you eat while fasting?

Some people are confused about what they can eat while fasting. During the times when you are not eating, you can drink water, black coffee, and tea. During your eating periods, you can eat normally. A lot of people feel tempted, and during their eating window, they go crazy and eat a lot of junk food, fried foods, etc. But, if you really want to get all the benefits of intermittent fasting, choose healthier foods. For example, you can follow the Mediterranean diet.

Moreover, it’s crucial to be careful about your sugar intake. Choose whole grains, leafy greens, and healthy fats. That way, not only will you achieve your ideal weight, but you will also feel better and healthier.

a person preparing food while intermitting fasting
Following the Mediterranean diet is a great choice.

What are the main benefits of intermittent fasting?

When it comes to fasting, there are a lot of benefits. We will talk about them so you can decide if this is the right choice for you and if it will help you to reach your goal – no matter what it is. Intermittent fasting can be challenging in the beginning, and if you want to gain muscles, instead of choosing this regimen, it might be better to look for a 7-day meal plan for muscle gain. You need to determine what you want to achieve and choose the best option for you!

Induce positive changes in your hormones and cells

When you fast for a while, there are a lot of changes that happen in your body. One of the most obvious is that your body will change hormone levels so it can make the stored body fat more accessible. That will also initiate important cellular repair processes. Your insulin levels will drop significantly, and it will be a sign for your body to start burning fat. Also, levels of HGH (Humane Growth Hormone) will increase, and it will cause fat-burning and muscle gain. Your body will go through a change, and you will feel all the benefits really fast.

Lose visceral fat and weight

Losing weight is the prevalent reason for resorting to intermittent fasting. It is important to eat normally during your eating window, so you can actually burn calories. As we mentioned, thanks to the higher HGH levels and lower insulin levels, your body will start burning fat and use it for energy. And it will increase your metabolic rate. In some studies, it has been noted that people who fast start losing visceral fat faster. And when you combine going to the gym and training with fasting- you will start to notice a difference rather soon. It is simple – reduced calorie intake with exercising will result in weight loss, and you won’t be on any type of restrictive diet.

a scale with a measuring tape showing that intermittent fasting can help with weight loss
You can lose weight with intermittent fasting.

Reduce insulin resistance and lower the chances of type 2 diabetes

One of the most common diagnoses in recent years is insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. More and more people are having trouble with their insulin levels. And since intermittent fasting reduces your insulin levels, it is no wonder that it lowers the chances of type 2 diabetes and reduces insulin resistance. If you have any of these issues, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your options before starting any of the diet regimens. After all, although it is important to be mindful of your diet, it is also imperative to stay physically active and exercise daily – even just going for a walk. A simple 30-minute walk can help with insulin resistance a lot!

Reduce inflammation in your body and oxidative stress

In recent years, you probably heard about oxidative stress. It is one of the steps that increase aging and many chronic diseases. Basically, free radicals react with other molecules (DNA, protein) and damage them. That damage causes other issues, and it can lead to many health problems. And one of the triggers for many autoimmune diseases, inflammation, can be reduced with intermittent fasting. And if you follow the Mediterranean diet in your eating window – you are lowering chances for health issues. Although fasting has a lot of benefits, it is important to choose healthier foods as well.

Improve heart health

Some studies show that intermittent fasting can be really beneficial for your heart. But also, before any recommendations, there need to be more in-depth studies on humans. It is known for now that fasting can improve blood sugar levels, blood pressure, blood triglycerides, and cholesterol. Fasting can be beneficial for your heart, and if you combine it with spinning classes in Dubai, for example, it will really make a difference. You will feel better and healthier!

Increase your brain function

Usually, what is good for the body is good for the brain. And since intermittent fasting improves and reduces oxidative stress, blood sugar levels, inflammation, and insulin resistance, it is clear that it will help your brain as well. Some studies on animals have shown that fasting may increase the growth of new nerve cells. It may also prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease, so prevention is critical. Fasting can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but also it can reduce its severity. Although there are still studies that are ongoing about this, it can be worth a try.

Improve gut health with intermittent fasting

As mentioned, inflammation is one of the triggers for many diseases. And gut health plays a big part in this. With fasting, you can improve your gut health and that way, you can reduce many inflammatory markers. Also, fasting will help with your digestive tract since it won’t have a burden of non-stop digestion. Your digestive tract will use fasting time to regenerate, reducing your risk for many diseases.

two well-balanced meals with a lot of vegetables on the table as a good meal option when intermittent fasting
Vegetables are great for your gut health!

It will decrease leptin resistance and normalize hunger

Leptin is a satiety hormone produced by fat cells that tells you when it is time to stop eating. Your leptin levels increase when you are full and decrease when you are hungry. And since leptin is produced in the fat cells, people who are overweight have higher levels of leptin. And if there is too much leptin in your system, it can cause leptin resistance, and it will be tough to determine when you are really hungry. There are studies that show that fasting helps lower the levels of leptin, and that translates into less hunger and less leptin resistance. And once you regulate your leptin levels – you will start losing weight much easier and faster.

Side effects of intermittent fasting

Although there are many advantages of intermittent fasting, there is a possibility of experiencing a few disadvantages, especially if you are not careful and don’t research the topic enough. Some of the adverse effects of this type of diet include:

  1. Limited sociability
  2. Reduced energy
  3. Obsessive overeating
  4. Weight gain

Limited sociability

We all know that eating is a food intake and a social activity. Imagine being used to going out with a coworker for lunch, and now you can’t. The question is, then, would you even go when you are not allowed to eat, thus denying yourself companionship? Or even if you go for lunch, how comfortable will you be?

Reduced energy and productivity

No one is in a good mood at all times, but when fasting, it is not uncommon for you to be more hungry and nervous. As a result, you can even become less productive, especially when there is a habit of snacking between meals and when stressed. With intermittent fasting, this can become even more pronounced, so you may lack the will to do anything, feel tired, and lack concentration. For those who work hard, it can be very bad as all of the above will reduce your ability to do something successfully.

The danger of obsessive overeating

Since this type of fasting includes not eating for several hours (or days), it may happen that you eat a lot more calories than you would normally. It’s that classic fear of being hungry since you know you won’t be able to eat anything for hours. Intermittent fasting won’t do you any good if you binge eat. If you aim to lose weight, refraining from food for an entire day won’t bring any results if you are not in a caloric deficit. Moreover, binge eating will only contribute to weight gain.

Weight gain

Weight gain written on a blue plate using scrabble tiles
Although fasting can help you lose weight, one of the potential consequences of intermittent fasting is weight gain.

A sudden decrease in caloric intake can make your body respond with a physiological adjustment resulting in weight gain after fasting, which is certainly not your goal. This claim has not been confirmed, as no long-term studies have tested this diet’s viability. However, it is still much better for most people to eat several meals a day normally as this stabilizes insulin and blood glucose levels, which prevents overeating at the end of the day.

This type of diet is considered an alternative to classic calorie restriction. Still, the fact is that there is not enough research to confirm its effectiveness but also the negative long-term consequences. Either way, before you embark on this journey, consult your doctor and nutritionist.

Is intermittent fasting suitable for everyone?

Fasting is definitely not for everyone. Although intermittent fasting is just a schedule of when you eat, certain groups of people should avoid it. For example, it can be very dangerous for diabetics as it can result in unsafe levels of hypoglycemia. Also, people who take medicines because of high blood pressure may be more prone to electrolyte abnormalities.

If you feel bad when you are not eating for a long time and are more comfortable eating more often or have a problem with some eating disorders, this is definitely not for you. For those who obsessively overeat, it can only create more chaos, both physically and mentally. Finally, children and teens under 18 years should avoid fasting, as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Final words

Overall, there are many conflicting conclusions regarding intermittent fasting. Still, one common message is that more evidence is needed to examine the effects of this method, especially the long-term effects. It is important to note that even if you are completely healthy and you plan to start fasting (or try any other diet), you should talk with your doctor first. Only a trained professional can help you do this safely and reap all the potential benefits.

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