With all the information on the internet selling quick fixes and unsustainable diets, it is hard to know what is “best”. That’s why we’re going to provide you with solid, legitimate research to empower you to make an informed decision!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
As you can guess from the name, IF involves a fast – a period of time without food. The fasting period ranges between IF regimes. They include:
Alternate day fasting: alternating between feeding and fasting days, where fasting days include 1 small meal around lunchtime.
Whole day fasting: you eat normally 5 days per week, and fast completely for 2 days per week.
Time-restricted feeding: the fasting period is a minimum of 16 hours beginning the night before and the feeding window is the remainder of the 24 hour period, often structured as 16:8 or 14:10.
Yes, IF works, though to very different degrees in different studies. For instance, simply skipping breakfast led to some weight loss in one study but not in another. In each of those two studies, the control group was provided with a standard breakfast, such as oatmeal, but neither group was restricted in what they could eat the rest of the day.
It’s also possible that people with more weight to lose may benefit more from an IF approach, but one thing is sure: if you compensate for the meals you skipped by eating more later in the day, or the next day, or the next, you won’t lose weight. The weight-loss equation is simple: you need to ingest less calories than you burn. IF is just one way to make this happen, but it is a way that some people find easier than the more common “eat smaller meals” approach.
Some people find this goal easier to reach their goals through intermittent fasting which allows them larger meals within the eating window than through the traditional “smaller meals” approach.
The body of evidence on IF in humans is still relatively small, but a number of studies have reported improvements in various health markers aside from weight, primarily blood lipids and cholesterol. It is still an active area of debate if there are any unique metabolic benefits to IF over caloric restriction.
Assessing the potential metabolic benefits of caloric restriction (i.e. how it impacts your metabolism) and IF is a long-term endeavor, and IF is still very new. It may provide unique metabolic benefits over caloric restriction, as well as mood benefits, but solid research is still sparse.
When it comes down to it, IF can be a more flexible alternative to the traditional calorie-restricted diet. That being said, any “diet” that requires you to disregard your body’s innate hunger and satiety cues is difficult to stick to in the long run.
If you think that Intermittent Fasting may be right for you, or if you want more information, book a FREE 15-minute nutrition consultation here with one of our dietitians & learn what is right for YOUR body!
(1) Belkacemi, L., Selselet-Attou, G., Hupkens, E., Nguidjoe, E., Louchami, K., Sener, A., Malaisse, W.J. Intermittent fasting modulation of the diabetic syndrome in streptozotocin-injected rats. Int. J. Endocrinol., 2012, 962012. DOI: 10.1155/2012/962012.
(2) Mattson, M.P. Challenging oneself intermittently to improve health. Dose Response, 2014, 12, 600-18.
(3) Tinsley, G.M. & La Bounty, P.M. Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutr. Rev., 2015, 73, 661-74.
(4) Brown, J.E. Can restricting calories help you to live longer?, Post Reprod. Health., 2014, 20, 16-18.
(5) Cherif, A., Roelands, B., Meeusen, R., Chamari, K. Effects of Intermittent Fasting, Caloric Restriction, and Ramadan Intermittent Fasting on Cognitive Performance at Rest and During Exercise in Adults. Sports Med., 2016, 46, 35-47.