More so than any other dietary trends, intermittent fasting remains in a constant state of fluctuation amongst health professionals. Like the bulk of cutting-edge diets, many of the purported benefits get eclipsed by the motives of its practicers.
This weight loss game of telephone tends to happen whenever a new diet fad gets its 15 minutes of fame. The diet will get reported ad nauseam until it’s distorted into an abridged version of its original form with the unsexy bits taken out and a couple of misinterpreted emphasizes on quick weight loss bits added in. It becomes harder to gauge the pros and cons of a regimen when most of our friends and family members are actually doing said regimen wrong.
Again, this is true for all of the heavy-hitter diets, but intermittent fasting sits atop a slightly taller hill — given the most notable element of its rubric is defined by periods of not eating-a thing universally loved by every culture. Where diets like Keto or Mediterranean are often proselytized with tags that boil down to “you won’t even know you’re eating healthy with these recipes,” intermittent fasting really only has rapidity in its advertising tool belt.
Whether or not you’re weary of the ramifications, the results are pretty resolute; fasting leads to weight loss — and there are healthy ways to go about this. The problem is most people that ascribe to intermittent fasting pick and choose when to fast at their own discretion when the periods are actually codified by three primary classifications:
- Alternate day fasting: Twenty-four hours of complete fasting followed by 24 hours of a non-fasting period.
- Whole-day fasting: Those that adhere to whole-day fasts, allot two fasting days a week wherein they are allowed roughly 500 to 600 calories or about 25% of regular daily caloric intake.
- Time-restricting feeding: This form tasks dieters to establish strict windows to eat during each day.
The reward for strict adherence
“In rodents, different forms of periodic fasting were shown to provoke positive effects on metabolic and cardiovascular health by reducing circulating glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, heart rate, and blood pressure (Di Francesco et al., 2018, Longo and Panda, 2016). Even in combination with a high-fat diet, such dietary interventions may prevent or improve obesity (Li et al., 2017), insulin sensitivity (Li et al., 2017), hepatic steatosis (Hatori et al., 2012), and inflammation (Hatori et al., 2012) as compared to a continuous isocaloric diet,” writes author Slaven Stekovic of the institute of Molecular Biosciences.
Stankovic contributed to a new study that premiered this week in the journal Metabolism, explored the effects of alternate-day fasting (ADF) on the psychological and molecular markers of aging in healthy non-obese adults. Even though ADF is by far the most restrictive form of fasting, next to religious fasting, the authors of the study claim that it’s safe for “healthy, non-obese” adults to practice for several months. Moreover, if one does so correctly the benefits are both varied and extensive.
From the study: “Four-week ADF decreases the body weight by 4.5% and improves the fat-to-lean ratio. Cardiovascular parameters and the CVD risk are improved upon ADF. ADF reduces T3 and periodically depletes amino acids, while increasing PUFAs.”
“Strict ADF is one of the most extreme diet interventions, and it has not been sufficiently investigated within randomized controlled trials,” said Frank Madeo, study author and professor of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at Karl-Franzens University of Graz in Austria, remarked to EurikaAlert!. “We aimed to explore a broad range of parameters, from physiological to molecular measures. If ADF and other dietary interventions differ in their physiological and molecular effects, complex studies are needed in humans that compare different diets.”
The study, which is the largest of its kind, observed participants over the course of four weeks, alongside a separate set of individuals that had been practicing ADF for six months. At the end of the trial period, the researchers observed several benefits that contributed to longevity, namely, reduced belly fat, reduced inflammation, and various age-related diseases, lower cholesterol, and increased amount of circulating ketone bodies, which are the three compounds produced during the metabolism of fat. The results were not dramatically different for fasters that limited themselves to 500 calories on fasting days as opposed to abstaining from food entirely.
It’s important to remember two things: Just because a diet is”healthy” and or expert-approved doesn’t mean it’s for everyone and weight loss should not be the only consideration when picking a diet. For starters, all the pounds lost on account of your new eating habits will be just as quickly gained if you should choose to abruptly drop the regimen after your short term goal is achieved.
Second, and most importantly, an effective diet is one tailored to your bodies specific needs and chemistry. Every restriction and addition should be implemented with your Bio-Idivusality in mind, which continues to change as grow older by the way. Some of the factors that comprise Bio-Indisuality include blood type, metabolism, and ancestry/genetics.
Laura Brown, who is a health counselor at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition adds, “Every person is unique, and the diet that will work best for them is also very unique and individualized. Just as we all have different personalities, fingerprints, DNA and other characteristics, we all have different dietary needs. And they change over time as we change and grow, and as we move through the seasons, and through the years.”