Intermittent fasting is generally accepted to have some health and weight loss advantages over the standard 3-meal-per-day regimen and to unlock some parts of human evolution.
The following ideas underlie intermittent fasting:
increasing the amount of time your body spends burning fat
reducing the overall insulin load on the body increases longevity and energy levels.
Scientific Studies and Interpretation of Data
Numerous research has examined the advantages of using intermittent fasting as a strategy to encourage fat loss.
As was previously said, ancient civilizations had the belief that fasting might have positive effects on one’s health.
Many of the fundamental hypotheses about the overall health advantages of fasting still hold true today, however, it is still debatable whether or not this is mainly due to calorie restriction.
The studies that have been done to present these advantages on an unbiased basis are summarised below.
Fat Loss Benefits
The ability to lose fat via intermittent fasting is one of its main marketing points. Numerous research, including those using alternate-day fasting and even the intermittent fasting regimen, have looked into the impact of meal frequency on fat loss.
Social media and fitness forums dismissed these studies for a while because they weren’t actual studies of the particular intermittent fasting protocol; however, recently, one study was carried out using the conventional 16/8 fasting/feasting protocol as recommended by conventional intermittent fasting protocols1.
In this study, those who used the intermittent fasting protocol did shed roughly 3.5 pounds more fat than those who followed a typical diet, but this also happened at the same time as they consumed fewer calories, suggesting that the reason for the greater fat loss was probably related to lower calorie intake.
The fact that “Testosterone and IGF-1 levels decreased, levels of several pro-inflammatory cytokines decreased, levels of cortisol increased, levels of insulin and blood glucose decreased, levels of triglyceride levels decreased, levels of T3 levels decreased, and levels of RER decreased slightly” is one of the study’s more intriguing findings, according to Greg Nuckols.
All of those are things you could anticipate finding in a calorie deficit. It’s also true that the IF group had a very minor calorie deficit (less than 10% below maintenance), which is probably not enough of a deficit to account for those effects.
Overall, this research suggests that IF “tricks” your body into believing you’re dieting, even if you’re at (or close to) calorie maintenance, in a manner that’s generally consistent with enhanced health and longevity”2.
Muscle Building Benefits
When calories are kept constant, it appears from a close examination of the fasting literature that intermittent fasting does not appear to offer any significant benefits to muscle growth.
Due to increased cellular cleansing activities (including autophagy and the heat shock protein response), fasting durations may enhance the quality of muscle tissue3,4,5. However, this research is still in its early stages and is largely conjecture at this moment.
Overall Health Benefits
The impact of fasting on general health and longevity may be the most fascinating of all the areas of research on fasting. Periods of fasting extend the life and enhance a number of metabolic markers as these animals age, according to various studies in animal models6, 7.
Increases in autophagy—a cellular “cleaning process”—may be the most well-known effect of fasting. Although there is some solid animal evidence that fasting may lengthen life, there is only short-term data on people and no long-term data is available, so much of this is still conjecture8.
A flexible approach to dieting that allows for food consumption, intermittent fasting may have special metabolic advantages for longevity and health. Because it allows you to limit your calorie intake, intermittent fasting can be a great technique for fat loss.
The well-known intermittent fasting pattern of a 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour window for eating can be adopted, as can the alternate-day fasting strategy of a 24-hour fast followed by a 24-hour feast. Due to the fact that it does not restrict or limit food intake and permits eating without meticulously calculating calories, intermittent fasting is simple to adhere to.