There’s a debate going on in the health community. When it comes to weight management, will intermittent fasting help you reach your goals, or is counting calories better? And which one is better for overall health?
Short answer: if the number on the scale is what matters most to you, then you can probably find success with either method. But if you’re looking for benefits beyond weight loss, one method is the clear winner over the other.
Let’s break down the benefits and drawbacks of intermittent fasting and calorie counting.
What it is: The calorie-counting method is simple. You track the calories you consume throughout the day and try to keep total calories under your target goal.
Benefits: People like calorie counting because it’s easy to understand. All you need to get started is a number: the number of calories you plan to consume each day. And technically, it doesn’t limit what foods you eat because, again, at the end of the day all that matters is that you’re staying under your calorie limit.
Drawbacks: The concept of calorie counting may be simple, but actually counting the calories of everything you eat is tedious and time-consuming. Many have trouble sticking with the practice long-term, and focusing solely on the calorie count of each food can make eating feel more like a never-ending math equation rather than something to be enjoyed. It can also lead to obsessive behaviors about food, and even isolate you from others—because oftentimes, avoiding certain foods means avoiding people.
Furthermore, calorie counting simply isn’t accurate a lot of the time. Calorie counts on food labels and in tracking apps are often estimates. In addition, factors like individual metabolism, digestion, and preparation methods can affect how many calories the body absorbs.
The biggest drawback to this method is that not all calories are created equal. For example, you’ll get close to the same amount of calories in a large apple that you’d get in a 12 oz. can of soda. But you don’t have to be a science whiz to know that an apple holds a lot more nutritional value than a can of soda.
This is because ultra-processed foods—which tend to be low in essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and high in unhealthy fats, added sugars, and salt—are often digested more quickly, which means more insulin spikes, and the excess sugar can lead to other metabolic health issues.
Whole foods, on the other hand, are generally more filling, satisfying, and take longer to digest. These foods are nourishing and support the body, so you get a lot more out of the calories you consume. Too much emphasis on counting calories can lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals because you’re focusing on the wrong numbers.
What it is: Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating each day. There are several fasting schedules to choose from, with 16:8 being the most common. On this schedule, you fast for 16 hours a day and eat all your meals in the remaining 8 hours.
Benefits: Many people get into intermittent fasting to help manage their weight, but the benefits go far beyond weight loss. Regular fasts can help reduce insulin and blood sugar levels, support gut health, reduce cravings, improve energy levels, and more.
If you want to get really science-y about it, Intermittent fasting allows the body to enter “autophagy” mode, which starts after 12–16 hours of fasting. This is the body’s natural process to break down old and damaged cells. This regular “housekeeping” helps us feel and function better, similar to how you feel better after a good night’s sleep.
And finally, intermittent fasting works with just about any lifestyle and allows you to eat whatever you want. Of course, you’ll see the most benefits if you fill your eating window with nutritious foods, but you won’t have to say goodbye to your favorite high-calorie foods if you don’t want to, nor will you have to track everything you eat.
Drawbacks: The main drawback to intermittent fasting is that it can be hard to maintain, especially at first. Lots of people don’t stick with it long enough to see the full benefits.
So which is better: Intermittent fasting or calorie counting?
While both methods are successful at limiting the calories we consume throughout the day, if improved overall health is your goal, then intermittent fasting is the way to go. It’s flexible enough to work with most lifestyles and food preferences, and has health benefits that go beyond weight management.
A simple way to make intermittent fasting easier
If you’re still a little intimidated by intermittent fasting, then this next section is for you.
Establishing new healthy habits can be tricky, especially if you have to rely on willpower to succeed. But as we all find out eventually, willpower isn’t enough to keep us going indefinitely. At some point our fuel tanks will run empty and our good intentions will fade away.
So if we can’t count on an endless supply of willpower, what can we do to get the benefits of intermittent fasting? Simple: we use a tool that makes it easier. The Feel Great Program is that tool.
By adding two products to your day—a fiber supplement and a pick-me-up drink—intermittent fasting gets so much easier, even if you’ve already used up your willpower for the day. And when intermittent fasting is easier to maintain, you’ll see more benefits, including some you may not have been expecting! Win-win.
Visit ufeelgreat to learn more about Feel Great and how it can help you reap the benefits of intermittent fasting.