Intermittent fasting is fantastic for weight loss and other associated health benefits. However, a question that consistently ranks high in people’s minds is, “ How long does it take to see results with intermittent fasting?”
With so many different approaches and variations, it can be hard to know how long it takes to see the benefits of intermittent fasting. In this article, we dive deep into intermittent fasting to answer this question.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
When you practice intermittent fasting, you get a lot of benefits, both direct and indirect. Let us take a look at some of the important ones.
Reduction in Insulin Resistance
You will see a fall in your insulin resistance while intermittent fasting. IF is known to lower blood sugar levels by 3-6% and reduce fasting insulin levels by 20-31%. This has a direct role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. 
Intermittent fasting is incredibly effective at inducing weight loss. It is also the primary reason why most people do intermittent fasting. IF is unique because it can help you lose weight without limiting the calories you consume.
Your body’s inflammation reduces while intermittent fasting. A direct correlation exists between inflammation and chronic diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. With intermittent fasting, you can manage these diseases better. 
Heart Health Improvement
Heart disease risk factors include insulin resistance, high blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, inflammation, and triglycerides. These factors are reduced with intermittent fasting, as found in studies. 
Many animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting plays a role in preventing cancer. Human studies have not been conducted yet, but as the physiology of lab rats and humans are remarkably similar, there is reason to be hopeful on this account.
Improvement in Brain Health
With intermittent fasting, there is an increase in the BDNF hormone levels in the brain. This hormone is responsible for the regeneration of new brain and nerve cells. This is highly significant and may have a role to play in preventing cognitive diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Lab studies on mice found that intermittent fasting increased their lifespan by 36-83%. Similar effects can be expected in humans too. However, more research is needed in this field. Intermittent fasting initiates autophagy in the body, a process by which our bodies are restored and renewed at a cellular level. This has anti-aging effects. 
What Intermittent Fasting Regimen Should I Follow For Weight Loss?
The biggest reason why people tend to follow intermittent fasting is weight loss. And discipline is the key to the right way of doing it. To begin with, keep your fasting windows short and gradually increase the duration as you get used to it. Here are some popular intermittent fasting regimens:
- The 16/8 diet: You will fast for 16 hours and consume your meals in the remaining eight hours. This is one of the easiest diets to follow.
- 23/1 (OMAD) Diet: This is one of the complex regimens where you will fast for 23 hours a day and eat once in the remaining one-hour window.
- The 5/2 Diet: In the 5/2 diet plan, you will eat normally for five days of the week and restrict your calories to 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive fasting days.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This diet plan is similar to the alternate day fast, but here you get to fast for the whole day once or twice weekly. On non-fasting days, you will eat a regular diet.
Many diets assure rapid weight loss. However, most, if not all, involve abstaining from food for some time, after which your weight stalls and may even go up. This is known as the “yo-yo” effect. If you want sustained weight loss, intermittent fasting is the best way.
Remember that the key to sustained weight loss is being consistent, day in and day out. You must make intermittent fasting a way of life. Intermittent fasting works best and shows the best results when practiced over a long period.
If you are an intermittent fasting newbie, don’t be put off by the strict diet and lifestyle. Start small. You could begin with a 12/12 routine, where you fast for 12 hours and eat three meals and snacks in the remaining 12 hours. Try amping it up after a few weeks and shifting to the 16/8 IF regimen.
The key is to take small steps toward your weight loss goal so that you are not overwhelmed. You must give your mind and body time to adapt to the intense intermittent fasting schedule.
What are the Realistic Weight Loss Expectations and Timeline for Intermittent Fasting?
Several factors are involved when it comes to losing weight with intermittent fasting. These include your starting weight, pre-existing medical conditions, the food you eat during feeding windows, age, sex, activity levels, and lifestyle.
For example, intermittent fasting will be ineffective if you are big on eating processed food and sugary drinks in your feeding windows. You must pair intermittent fasting with the right foods to see weight loss results.
A review of 40 case studies found intermittent fasting to be a successful tool for weight loss, with individuals having an average weight loss over ten weeks. 
Other studies have shown a weight loss of 0.8–13% of total body weight between 2 and 26 weeks of alternate-day fasting. 
Another study on the 5/2 IF regimen has shown weight loss results strikingly similar to the weight loss we experience when we traditionally cut calories to lose weight. 
Most people want to cut corners and look for easy weight-loss fixes. Experts, however, advise against this. Your weekly weight loss target should be 1-2 pounds, not more. This is an achievable and realistic goal.
How to Track Your Weight Loss?
Refrain from overly relying on the scales to track your weight loss journey. Weight scales only pinpoint a specific time, whereas your weight fluctuates throughout the day. Nevertheless, if you are only going by what the scales say, ensure that you weigh yourself at the same time each day, preferably in the morning.
You can also track your weight loss with a measuring tape. It can help track how intermittent fasting has changed your stomach, hips, and waist. A study showed women losing 4–7% of visceral fat with intermittent fasting, which is extremely hard to eliminate using other methods. 
Regarding the sexes, men generally have better weight loss results than women while intermittent fasting. During the first month of intermittent fasting, women usually lose up to 7 pounds, while men lose 7-13 pounds.
Intermittent fasting works best if you fall in the 42-48 age category. Beginner fasters in this age group may lose 20 pounds of body weight in the first month alone.
During the first two weeks of intermittent fasting, you will notice less bloating and a slim, tight look to your midsection. Some people experience weight loss with IF as early as week two, while it takes 4-6 weeks or even more for others to lose weight. The key here is not to get discouraged and to maintain discipline and dedication in your intermittent fasting regimen.
Related: Water Fasting Weight Loss Calculator
What is The Difference Between Weight Loss and Fat Loss?
Seeing your weight drop on the weighing scales can be a real thrill. But here, you must remember that the weighing scales can only measure weight loss, not fat loss. Also, remember that losing weight is tied to losing a combination of muscles, fluid, and fat.
You must focus on fat loss when your goal is overall body toning. Hence, when you start, it is best to target one to two pounds of weight loss per week. According to research, if you lose more than five pounds in a week, there is a danger of losing water weight along with fat and muscle. This can put you at risk of nutrient deficiencies and dehydration, leading to poor fitness. 
Why am I Not Seeing Results With Intermittent Fasting?
If 30 days have passed since you began practicing intermittent fasting, yet you do not see any visible changes, here are some probable reasons:
- Inadequate fasting times
- Not enough water consumption
- Frequent alcohol consumption
- You are not eating enough calories in your feeding windows
- Preference for processed food over healthy fats, lean proteins, and vegetables
- You are eating the same calories as you did before beginning fasting
- You are practicing an unsuitable intermittent fasting schedule
- Inadequate sleep
- Lack of exercise
How much weight can you lose in a month with intermittent fasting?
If you have a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories, you will lose one pound of body weight in a week. At this rate, you will lose 4-5 pounds in a month.
How long does it take to see results from 12/12 fasting?
Experts say that it takes ten weeks to see intermittent fasting results when following the 12/12 regimen. The average weight loss in this period is 7-10 pounds. However, keep in mind that each person has a unique metabolism.
Does fasting for 16 hours burn fat?
Fat burning will start after 12 hours of fasting and pick up pace between 16-24 hours.
Intermittent fasting is an effective weight loss method, but you must give it time to work. You did not become overweight in a day, so you must be patient while losing weight. The body needs to adjust to the new eating pattern, which may take several weeks to see significant results. You must give intermittent fasting at least 4-6 weeks to show its effectiveness.
If you give it time and remain consistent, intermittent fasting will help you achieve your weight loss goals. Intermittent fasting is not a quick fix; it requires patience and diligence to deliver the best weight loss results.
- Sathananthan, Matheni, et al. “Six And 12 Weeks of Caloric Restriction Increases Β Cell Function and Lowers Fasting and Postprandial Glucose Concentrations in People With Type 2 Diabetes.” OUP Academic, 1 Sept. 2015.
- Alam, Iftikhar, et al. “Recurrent Circadian Fasting (RCF) Improves Blood Pressure, Biomarkers of Cardiometabolic Risk and Regulates Inflammation in Men.” PubMed Central (PMC), 19 Aug. 2019.
- Mani, Kartik, et al. “Lysosomes Mediate Benefits of Intermittent Fasting in Cardiometabolic Disease: The Janitor Is the Undercover Boss.” PubMed Central (PMC), 14 Sept. 2018.
- Alirezaei, Mehrdad, et al. “Short-term Fasting Induces Profound Neuronal Autophagy.” PubMed Central (PMC), 14 Aug. 2010.
- “Do Intermittent Diets Provide Physiological Benefits Over Continuous Diets for Weight Loss? A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials – PubMed.” PubMed, 15 Dec. 2015.
- Welton, Stephanie, et al. “Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss: Systematic Review.” PubMed Central (PMC).
- “The Effects of Intermittent or Continuous Energy Restriction on Weight Loss and Metabolic Disease Risk Markers: A Randomized Trial in Young Overweight Women – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 May 2011.
- “Intermittent Fasting Combined With Calorie Restriction Is Effective for Weight Loss and Cardio-protection in Obese Women – PubMed.” PubMed, 21 Nov. 2012.
- “Glycogen Storage: Illusions of Easy Weight Loss, Excessive Weight Regain, and Distortions in Estimates of Body Composition – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 July 1992.
Great information about the different types of intermittent fasting.. I thoroughly enjoyed and believe it will help me reaach my weight loss goals.