Intermittent fasting has been touted high and low as the ideal anti-inflammatory diet. We even delved deep into the ins and outs of intermittent fasting (and busted a few myths about intermittent fasting). While the practice exists in many forms, the basic principle never wavers: restricting eating to a small window for purported benefits such as improved health, clearer skin, better sleep, and more. When a recent study seemed to negate these benefits, the world of health and wellbeing fluttered. The New York Post claimed the “much-touted intermittent fasting diet” was “bunk.”
According to some experts, reporters may have popped the gun when they completely slammed the practice.
The facts about intermittent fasting
The recently published study was led by researchers from UC San Francisco and published in JAMA Internal Medicine. It examined one of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting: restricting eating to eight-hour windows separated by 16 hours of fasting.
The study included 116 men and women with a BMI between 27 and 46. It found that those randomly selected to follow the practice lost an average of 2 pounds per day, while those who did not follow the practice , Lost 1.5 pounds a day. Despite the discrepancy, the study found no significant difference between the two groups in terms of total fat mass, lean mass, fasting insulin, or energy expenditure at rest. Some even had negative effects from fasting, including muscle wasting. The study concluded that this practice alone is not effective for losing weight or improving key metabolic markers.
Corresponding author Ethan J. Weiss, MD, who has followed the practice for years, notes that he was “very surprised” by the results and notes that “we have not seen any significant changes in circulating biomarkers”. Previous studies, mostly in mice, had promised benefits ranging from weight loss to longevity.
“I don’t recommend [intermittent fasting] Now, “he says,” but I’ll keep studying it. “
What this means for intermittent fasting
However, this study does not completely negate the benefits of the practice.
First, some of the benefits of intermittent fasting for weight loss are due to the reduction in calories: fewer options to eat during the day naturally translate into lower overall caloric intake. The study did not take this into account as both groups consumed similar caloric intakes.
Second, weight loss is nowhere near the only benefit of intermittent fasting. According to Drew Manning, Fastenfans health and fitness expert and author of Fit2Fat2Fit, “Fasting is not the best way to lose weight.” Instead, proponents of fasting enjoy myriad secondary benefits, including lower blood sugar, aid with cell repair, improved digestion, and improved heart health.
“A large number of laboratory and clinical studies show that intermittent fasting in combination with a healthy diet can bring biochemical benefits that support our body’s health defenses,” explains Dr. William W. Li, physician and author of the New York Times bestseller, “Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself.” “These benefits ranged from suppressing cancer by disrupting the blood supply to tumors to regenerating immune cells and improving the gut microbiome.”
Dr. med. Steven Quay, head of two COVID-19 clinical studies (HOPE study and AT-301 nasal spray), agrees.
“Intermittent fasting has so many other benefits, even after reaching ideal weight and stopping weight loss,” he says. “With TRE, glucose homeostasis, insulin consumption, activation of immune stem cells, epigenetic changes in genes, etc. are achieved [Time-Restricted Eating]. TRE leads to an increased, disease-free longevity in almost all examined mammal species. “
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition even showed that fasting can increase metabolic rate and contribute to sustained weight loss in the long term.
Fasting alone is not enough to reap the benefits of the practice – weight loss or otherwise. And one thing that almost all of our experts found was that the study didn’t look at what types of foods participants ate in their feeding windows, which is an integral part of any intermittent fasting regime.
“Intermittent fasting is a useful tool to help the body regulate its health defenses,” says Li.
Manning recommends combining the practice with a keto diet that makes fasting easier and a whole foods approach.
“Also, be open to mixing up your routine so your body is constantly adjusting,” he says.
Tara Stiles, yoga expert and author of “Clean Mind, Clean Body: A 28-Day Plan for Physical, Mental and Spiritual Self-Care”, highlights another limitation of the study: the imposed eating window of 12 noon to 8 pm – a limitation supposedly imposed as it is easier for people to skip breakfast than dinner.
“I would be interested to know if the same study moved the time window to include breakfast (with no further suggestions). This could have a snowball effect if people are made to go to bed earlier, go to big dinners less often, and prepare for diet foods at home more often, “she says.” Any real, meaningful change requires a lifestyle change, and it is better to be inspired by a real desire to feel better that leads to stress relief than a diet of anxiety which causes more stress and ultimately failure. “
Ultimately, fasting is like any nutritional protocol: it works best with other healthy habits.
“It’s a tool in our tool belt,” says Manning. “It can be used effectively, and I have made countless people lose weight and fat on this protocol as long as it is done correctly.”
Based on bio-authority
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