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20/4 Intermittent Fasting: What Should You Know Before Starting
It seems like every day there is a new diet trend labeled as the next miracle for weight loss. Intermittent fasting is one of those diets that has recently gained attention. But, does it really work?
There is a growing body of evidence showing that many people do very well on an intermittent fasting diet. 20/4 intermittent fasting is a simple, easy-to-understand eating plan that can help you lose weight and improve your overall health.
What Is 20/4 Intermittent Fasting?
20/4 intermittent fasting is a time-restricted eating plan that requires a person to fast for 20 hours each day and only consume calories during the remaining four-hour window.
A person following this eating plan should not continuously eat for four hours but can feel free to eat until they are satisfied, without restricting caloric intake. This fasting protocol helps people consume far fewer calories overall, even if they eat a fairly large meal during their eating times.
How Does It Different From 16/8 Method?
The different numbers around intermittent fasting diets simply indicate the time you should spend fasting as opposed to the time you spend in your eating window. Using the 16/8 intermittent fasting method means that your fasting window lasts for 16 hours and your eating window lasts for 8 hours.
The intermittent fasting 20/4 schedule may be more difficult for new dieters to stick with, since the fasting period is so much longer. If you want to try intermittent fasting methods, you might have more success starting with a longer feeding window and progressively shortening the time down to a four-hour eating window.
Health Benefits Of 20/4 Intermittent Fasting
Studies show that intermittent fasting has many potential health benefits including preventing chronic disease and promoting better metabolic health.
Intermittent fasting almost guarantees a lower daily calorie intake. Because of this, it has been a successful weight loss strategy for thousands of people across the United States.
People using a short feeding window are generally able to lose between 1-2 pounds per week. This is a healthy and sustainable rate of weight loss that won’t put you at risk for muscle loss, metabolic problems, or hormone changes caused by rapid weight loss or extreme diets.
Not only does this fasting method lead to weight loss, but it also leads to the right kind of weight loss. A meta-analysis performed by the Journal of Clinical Medicine showed that people who used intermittent fasting experienced fat loss while maintaining lean muscle mass better than those who participated in traditional calorie-restricting diets.
Interestingly, intermittent fasting can actually help you feel less hungry. When you do not eat for long periods of time, the body starts to burn fat for energy, and hunger hormones decrease. Intermittent fasting suppresses appetite in much the same way as a ketogenic diet.
Chronic inflammation in the body is associated with things like arthritis, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and heart disease.
Fasting for long periods of time can give the body a break from oxidative stress caused by breaking down nutrients, and has been shown to decrease the risk of inflammatory diseases.
Improved Mental Health
According to Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, following an intermittent fasting protocol may be able to improve mental health conditions like depression.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
One of the most important benefits of intermittent fasting is the way it can help people improve their blood sugar control. Timed eating can reduce fasting blood sugar and improve insulin response.
Insulin resistance leads to type 2 diabetes which can cause devastating health problems like heart disease or even blindness. Intermittent fasting has the potential to reverse insulin resistance and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Risk Of 20/4 Intermittent Fasting
While intermittent fasting has many benefits, it is not without risk. Like any major diet changes, you should speak with your healthcare provider to create an eating plan that will meet your own unique needs.
Because of the calorie deficit created by time-restricted feeding, it is easy to miss out on important nutrients. To combat this, make sure you choose nutritious foods like lean protein, cooked or raw vegetables, and whole grains during your eating window.
Avoid processed foods if you can, since the empty calories will not provide you with the nutrients you need and will not sustain you through your long hours of fasting.
People who have a history of severe calorie restriction or binge eating disorder should not follow a time-restricted eating window. If you have had a disordered eating pattern in the past, you should try to avoid strict or restrictive diets like intermittent fasting.
How To Do Successfully 20/4 Intermittent Fasting
While intermittent fasting is easy enough to understand, it can be challenging to stick with it, especially at first. If you are used to snacking while you work on your computer or sit down to watch television with a bag of chips every night, sticking to certain eating windows can be a huge lifestyle change.
Changing your eating patterns can be difficult, but with the right strategy and some planning ahead, anybody can do it.
Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and control your blood sugar by fasting for 20 hours per day. During your four hour eating window, make sure you are eating nutrient-rich foods including plenty of fats and protein.
In order to be successful on your 20/4 intermittent fasting diet, you might want to start with something easier like a 16/8 fasting schedule. You should also be sure to plan your meals ahead of time and stay hydrated throughout the day.
+ 3 sources
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- Cho, Y., Hong, N., Min Jung Kim, Cho, S., Min Young Lee, Lee, Y., Yong Ho Lee, Eun Seok Kang, Cha, B.-Y. and Byung Seok Lee (2019). The Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting to Reduce Body Mass Index and Glucose Metabolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. [online] 8(10), pp.1645–1645. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8101645.
- Mattson, M.P., Longo, V.D. and Harvie, M. (2017). Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. [online] 39, pp.46–58. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2016.10.005.
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. (2022). Does intermittent fasting impact mental disorders? A systematic review with meta-analysis. [online] Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2022.2088687.