All this chat about “IF”, saying it can help regulate hormones and aid in efficient, sustained weight loss, BUT does it really work and more importantly, will it work for you? My wife and I have decided to immerse ourselves in this new trending “DIET” and see whether or not it is effective for weight / fat loss.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
IF is more about when you eat, rather than what you eat. A typical plan puts you on a scheduled fasting phase followed by a non-fasting phase. The fasting phase is where you would skip breakfast, or more and/or eat significantly fewer calories to generate the energy deficit needed for fat loss. This allows you to choose potentially higher calorie meals and maintain higher calorie goals in the non-fasting phase.
A normal calorie – restriction fat loss plan would start you off with a small daily restriction of between 250 – 500kcal per day, depending on how much weight you would like to lose and how fast you need to lose it. Now this is an averagely smart diet plan, and while it may seem high to some, it can be quite modest when compared to the amount of calories cut during a fasting phase of an IF plan.
Is INTERMITTENT FASTING effective for weight loss?
Intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss, although I must say it’s not necessarily better than other methods. Weight loss was compared between intermittent fasting and daily calorie restriction:
Intermittent fasting vs traditional dieting
The obesity epidemic has become a severe public health crisis. Energy restriction is, of course, the fundamental principle by which people achieve and maintain a healthy body weight since, in line with the First Law of Thermodynamics, fat loss is the result of a sustained negative balance between energy intake and output.
However, while it is usually recommended that people should reduce their calorie intake consistently on a daily basis, many people find it difficult to adhere to diets that involve daily energy restriction.
More recently, intermittent fasting has become popular among people who are looking to lose weight and fat, and even among those who are trying to build muscle and optimize their body composition, partly because of the idea that intermittent fasting may improve dietary adherence.
Indeed, a number of studies, such as this one, this one and this one, on intermittent fasting vs traditional dieting suggest that the two dietary approaches result in identical outcomes in terms of body weight and body fat reduction when calories and protein are controlled for.
Moreover, two recent systematic reviews and meta analyses (this one by Headland et al and this one by Harris et al) also seem to confirm the above results, with both of them concluding that neither intermittent fasting nor continuous caloric restriction was superior than the other for weight loss.
Until recently, however, trials on intermittent fasting vs traditional dieting were short-term, usually lasting 12 weeks, highlighting the need for longer-term studies to be performed.
And this is where this year-long intermittent fasting vs traditional dieting trial by Sundfor et al comes in!
Since fat loss is the result of a sustained caloric deficit, caloric restriction is required for weight and fat loss.
While it is usually recommended that people should reduce their calorie intake consistently on a daily basis, many people find it difficult to adhere to diets that involve daily energy restriction.
Research suggests that intermittent fasting may be an effective way to improve adherence to a hypocaloric diet, however, studies are mostly limited to short-term trials.
When deciding on whether, or not, to go with IF over the more common calorie restriction diets, in my opinion, it comes down to personal choice and lifestyle. Some of us believe that we have to eat every 2-3 hours and maintain our hunger on healthy snacks in between those meals to prevent getting “hangry”, whilst others can’t seem to stomach eating a big meal so early in the morning, or before training and prefer having the option and freedom of back loading all their calories post workout and later on in the day ,or front loading all their calorie restrictions to just a few days a week rather than an all week deficit.
IS INTERMITTENT FASTING SAFE TO USE?
Intermittent fasting should be a safe option of dieting, but it all depends on how you approach it and how your body responds. Fasting is not for everyone and you shouldn’t try intermittent fasting if you are pregnant, diabetic or healing from a traumatic event such as surgery. Some say that IF can backfire due to calorie restrictions and can in some cases encourage bingeing and other eating disorders, again, personally I think that’s all bullshit as any form of calorie restricting diets have a tendency to cause a bit of bingeing. I would say rather ensure you are focused on your goal ahead and consult with your local GP before and during your “diet” phase.
Our genetics are designed for fasting, mankind did not evolve to eating food every hour of the day. Do you think that cavemen/cavewomen had the luxury of eating whenever they wanted? NO! They hunted for days at a time, relying on energy from a fasted state. They would then feast and get as much calories as possible in their one or two sittings. Now I understand we have evolved (some of us) and that our calorie needs are somewhat different to back then, but my arguments still stands. Some research has shown that fasting triggers some changes in your body:
- Insulin: Hormonal changes that are beneficial for your body. When you fast, your insulin levels drop, allowing your cells to release stored fat and use it more effectively
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH): the levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as a 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss, muscle gain and anti-ageing, to name a few.
- Cellular repair: When fasted your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
- Gene Expression: there are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.
It’s important to note that fasting is not the same as starvation. Going for days without eating or eating a very low-calorie diet indefinitely, is not safe.
3 TYPES OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
These are the most popular methods:
- The 16/8 method: Also called the Lean-gains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
Many people, including myself find the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to stick to. It’s also the most popular. As I feel it the best more maintaining an anabolic state.
Summary There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting. All of them split the day or week into eating and fasting periods.
THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL DIET FOR WEIGHT LOSS!!!!!
Intermittent fasting can be a helpful tool, but the most important factor must be that it fits into YOUR lifestyle. If you try IF and it doesn’t really fit your lifestyle, then just focusing on a calorie in-calorie out type of eating plan will always work. Listen to your body and choose the tool that works for YOU. One of the most important factors to remember is that the quality of calories you put into your body during the non-fasting phase is vital to your overall look and health. As you start to lose weight, or body fat, your body’s need for nutrient-dense foods including fruits, veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats are increased exponentially. My advice to anyone utilizing these tools for weight loss is to ensure you understand the needs for quality macros and micro-nutrients and how they change during a diet phase. Please ensure you always consult a physician or your local GP before starting a cutting of calorie diet and if you are not sure how to start, then please feel free to use a recommended online coach.
Devan Dippenaar WWW.MY247PT.COM