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Intermittent Fasting

In a previous article in December 2012, I wrote about the differences between intermittent fasting and calorie restricted diets.  The final conclusion led me to agree with intermittent fasting as a great way to shed excess fat and retain the lean mass, however the lack of scientific evidence held me back from being 100% for it.  Are the benefits real? What about the long term effects? How is cognitive function? No one knows the answer yet… but when they are publicized then I will make my final decision.

Regardless, in my first article on intermittent fasting, I neglected to explain some of the intricacies of it.  Which there are a lot of, and frankly, I refer you to a great read on this topic by Dr. John M Berardi entitled Precision Nutrition: Intermittent Fasting.  I will briefly summarize a few points in it, however I strongly recommend that you read the whole thing to get a great grasp on the subject.  This style of diet is by no means something one should undergo without doctors supervision, especially with the lack of scientific data.

History and Science of Intermittent Fasting

Guess what? Intermittent fasting is nothing new to the human race – it was how we first survived.  We would hunt for food and then it could be a couple days until we had another sizeable meal.  These periods of eating and fasting have dissipated a lot in developed countries but still may exist in third world cultures where food is scarce.

With today’s scientific advancements, we have capitalized on our ability to further understand the complexity of the human body.  Research on intermittent fasting has led to the understanding that it can improve blood sugar control, appetite control, increase fat burning, and reduce blood pressure just to name a few.  These are only the preliminary findings and may not extend to all scenarios.  It has been suggested that many of the benefits only occur after prolonged fasting.  This therefore shows that more research is needed to understand the complexity of the diet.

Taking this into consideration, I can safely say that if you intake less calories than required to maintain energy balance – you will lose weight.  It is a simple numbers game, consume less energy than you require for your daily expenditure, and intermittent fasting is just another way to potentially accelerate the weight loss.

Types of Intermittent Fasting Protocols

Behold – there is more than one way to go about this diet paradigm.  These various dieting paradigms include meal skipping, alternate day fasting, and eat stop eat.  The best part is – no one knows which one is the magical formula for the best gains (or losses to be correct).  But this is part and parcel with the fitness world and what I always preach – there is no cookie cutter training or dieting program that will work for everyone.

The key to intermittent fasting to work for you is to experiment with various ‘eating’ and ‘fasting’ periods.  It is all about finding what works best for you and what you can tolerate.  This can be your own mini-experiment and get you on your way to success!

Conclusion

Fitness professionals have been pushing the topic of ‘eat less – move more’, however it has led to little of no success in combatting the increasing obesity epidemic.  I believe the fitness industry needs to take another approach to the situation and realize that not everyone is the same and really refine their vantage point.  As an exercise physiologist, I feel confident in stating that intermittent fasting may be a great way to lose weight for some people, but not all.  Everyone is unique and will respond to various programs in their own respective ways.  That does not mean it will not work for you, but experimenting will truly tell you the answer.

I strongly suggest for a better understanding of intermittent fasting to download the FREE PDF by Dr. John M Berardi.  This will definitely answer most of your questions regarding the topic, and give you a great starting point for your own dietary experiments.

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