Forget Fad Diets, Should We Be Fasting Instead?

Everyone knows someone who has lost 10 lbs in two weeks doing an incredibly specific diet plan.

The problem with fad diets is that they are not practical for the long haul. Many of these diets are so specific that they’re difficult to follow, are incredibly expensive, difficult to prepare and maintain, and aren’t typically known for being deliciously satisfying.

Some of these diets will leave consumers feeling fatigued, ravenously hungry, and grumpy. They can also have a slew of side effects including constipation, diarrhea, bad breath, nausea, and headaches.

The biggest problem with fad diets is that once the consumer is no longer following the meal plan (either because they quit or the diet was only supposed to last for a few days or weeks), the dieter will put most or all of the weight back!

In short, fad diets suck.

Instead of trying to restrict what we eat, we should be restricting WHEN we eat. The Intermittent Fasting trend has boomed in the past few years, as a weight loss method and a way of living. There are a number of different ways to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle. Below we have outlined some of the most popular ways to fast, along with the pros and cons of each method. We also go into some of the wider benefits of fasting, as well how intermittent fasting can aid in weight loss.

5:2 or “The Fast Diet”

The 5:2 diet reached its peak popularity in 2013 after The Fast Diet book was released. The philosophy of 5:2 is simple; spend five days of the week eating normally, and for two days each week, eat a very calorie restricted diet. The Fast Diet recommends that men consume 600 calories and women consume 500 calories on their fast days. The fasting days don’t have to be consecutive or in any particular order. The most important part of this fasting diet is to make sure you don’t overeat or binge on non-fasting days, which is probably more difficult than it seems!

The Fast Diet Book includes recipes and meal plans to help get you started. The internet is also a great resource to find ideas on what to eat during fast days.

For people who like to follow a set routine, or need consistency when beginning a new habit, the 5:2 diet plan might not be an ideal choice.

16/8 Fasting

16/8 Fasting involves fasting for around 16 hours per day, leaving an eight hour window to eat the day. This might appear difficult, but consider how long you normally fast between your last meal of the day and your first meal in the morning. If you don’t snack after dinner and get eight hours of sleep before enjoying breakfast, you might be fasting for 12 hours each day already.

Some 16/8 dieters suggest that you can have between fourteen to sixteen hours of fasting every day, with an eight to ten hour window to eat. You can still drink water and calorie-free drinks, like black tea or coffee (with no milk) during the fasting period.

The 16/8 method is supposed to help speed up weight loss in a variety of ways:

  • It helps to stop mindless snacking by limiting the hours you can eat.
  • It helps to decrease each cell’s glucose supply for a few hours, allowing the body to use stored fat as its primary source of fuel. This process is known as ketosis. If done correctly, you will literally burn fat while you sleep!

The Wolverine Diet

Believe it or not, there are even more restrictive fasting diet plans than the 16/8 model. One of the most severe fasting diets is called the Wolverine Diet. This diet was most famously followed by Hugh Jackman to get into shape each time he played Wolverine. This diet essentially bans carbohydrates and requires a gruelling exercise routine. Some sources claim that Hugh Jackman had to consume between 4000 and 5000 calories daily in order to bulk up the way he did.

But how does IF actually aid weight loss?

We have already mentioned how fasting patterns lead to consuming less calories, overall. But science is increasingly revealing other ways that Intermittent Fasting can help boost weight loss efforts.


Studies suggest that short bouts of fasting can increase the body’s metabolic rate, meaning more calories burned, overall. This study found that the participants metabolic rates increased by an average of 3.6%, which is a significant increase!

Human Growth Hormone

Human Growth Hormone levels in the bloodstream increase while fasting. Increased levels of Human Growth Hormone have been associated with improved fat burning processes and improved muscle gains. When fasting is combined with strength training, fasting can help make you leaner and stronger.

A higher success rate than fad diets

Studies show that (statistically) people are more successful at sticking with an intermittent fasting pattern of eating than they are at sticking to calorie restrictive diets. Being able to fast as a lifestyle choice, rather than as a temporary measure, means that you are more likely to succeed and reach your weight loss goals in the long run.

Benefits beyond weight loss

Intermittent Fasting has numerous other benefits, beyond just weight loss.

Studies also suggest that intermittent fasting can improve blood pressure, lower both total and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) levels, and lower blood triglycerides.

Insulin resistance and Insulin sensitivity

Insulin resistance is a precursor to Type II Diabetes, but it is reversible if caught in time! If you have been diagnosed as insulin resistant, you should make as many positive lifestyle changes as possible to minimise the chances of developing Type II Diabetes. One study showed that when eating after a period of fasting, the body is more sensitive to insulin, and blood glucose levels are more easily regulated.

Theoretically, intermittent fasting can be suitable for diabetics, but only when under the supervision of a qualified professional healthcare provider or doctor.

Smarter Mice

Preliminary studies are often conducted in mice and rats. One study found that overweight mice that followed intermittent fasting did better in learning and memory testing than mice that didn’t follow the same eating pattern. The mice also had improved brain function.

Overall, it is clear that there are numerous benefits to Intermittent Fasting, but it is far from a cure-all! If you want to give up trying fad diets, the best advice we can offer is to stick with eating healthy meals in moderation and to consider fitting some intermittent fasting into the mix.

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

Have Your Say

Get the conversation started by leaving your comments using the form above.

Add your comment

We'd love to get your opinion. Please keep it clean and stay on topic, no spamming. Comments are moderated before being made live. Your email address will not be published.
We cannot give advice about medical conditions or prescription drugs. Please direct specific medical questions to your doctor.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.