Fasting is a nutritional practice as old as life itself. Since time immemorial, it has been part of many cultures and is still practiced today. A good example is the case of Ramadan, where religious reasons come into play. However, the use of fasting has been taken to the next level. Used for therapeutic purposes, intermittent fasting has been postulated as a healthy diet with some notoriety in recent years. One of its main advantages is the weight loss aid. It looks like a drawer, doesn’t it? If you don’t eat, you lose weight. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, because mealtime restrictions raise important questions for the scientific community. In fact, it’s not entirely clear that intermittent fasting works for everyone.
As with all promising diets, there are a lot of people panicking excessively with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting gurus abound online like Egyptian plague at its finest. How can we protect ourselves against them? Is it possible to single out the benefits of intermittent fasting without getting too high? In an attempt to achieve this, we are going to analyze a recent scientific study that has come to some very interesting conclusions on this edible subject.
What is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting involves a restriction on the hours we can use to eat throughout the day. There are different types of intermittent fasting, depending on how many hours we go without eating. However, the most common variation is the fast 16/8 due to its simplicity and greater ease for beginners. Basically, it involves fasting for 16 hours — many of which coincide with our sleeping hours — and only eating in 8-hour increments a day. This period usually involves skipping breakfast or dinner, at least at the times usually set.
Otherwise intermittent fasting does not involve major food antics: the time during which you can eat is simply limited. For example, if we had our last meal at 10:00 p.m. in the evening and didn’t eat anything until 2:00 p.m. the next day, then we would already have it. How many times have you practiced intermittent fasting without realizing it? Probably in your time of university madness, more than once. Well, no. Beverage calories also matter, and they’re not exactly few.
In addition, the practice of intermittent fasting has been strongly advocated thanks to its potential health benefits, such as better control of insulin and glucose spikes in the body. It is also theorized to prevent cardiovascular disease by successfully regulating blood pressure and other metabolic parameters, such as lower total cholesterol and greater presence of “good” cholesterol or LDL lipoproteins.
Does intermittent fasting make you lose weight?
The University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine of New Orleans published an interesting research in the scientific journal New England Journal of Medicine. In it, the researchers wanted to contrast the benefits of intermittent fasting for an entire year. To do this, they submitted randomized clinical trial on 139 patients with obesity divided into two groups. One of the groups with calorie restriction and time to eat: they could only eat between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., while the other group had only calorie restriction and no weather. The diet imposed on all participants was 1500-1800 kcal per day for men and 1200-1500 kcal per day for women.
These are the basics of randomized clinical trials: scientific studies of a certain quality that allow the analysis of a variable by isolating it in one group while the other remains apart, this is called a control group. Once this method has been established, subjects with very similar conditions (weight, height or age) are chosen and allocated in a completely random manner to one of the two groups. This is how scientific magic is doneto be able to obtain research that goes beyond observational studies and provides us with greater evidence or reliability in terms of results.
And what conclusions does the study draw? Well, in general terms, intermittent fasting is not better than a low-calorie diet to lose weight. Eye, because it’s not worse either. The results show this, as study participants who followed intermittent fasting lost an average of 8 kilograms, while those who only followed a low-calorie diet lost 6.3 kilograms. Despite the difference, statistically significant differences are not taken into account for a 12-month period. Other parameters such as BMI, body fat, waist circumference or blood pressure also decreased, consistent with weight loss but without significant changes.
The study authors themselves are blunt in interpreting the results: “In this 12-month trial, we found that the time-restricted 8-hour diet did not produce greater weight loss than the daily calorie restriction diet, and both diets resulted in similar calorie deficits.”
The limits of the study on this practice
Despite the data obtained, the truth is that the study has some limitations that we must take into account. It is important to always mention this, because There are no perfect scientific investigations: It is impossible to control all the parameters and variables that may affect our hypothesis.
In this way, only people belonging to the general population, without additional diseases, were included in the study. There is no way to prove from this particular study whether intermittent fasting could benefit people with diabetes or cardiovascular diseasefor example, as has been theorized in the past.
On the other hand, the researchers also did not take into account the physical exercise performed by the participants: This is one of the big variables left out, probably the most important. We can’t associate weight loss with diet alone, but exercise must come into play, a metric that can vary widely from person to person.
So as always a single scientific study does not give the whole truth on a subject. However, it is interesting to put into context all its advantages but also its negative points in order to build health recommendations based on evidence. In this way, we can conclude that intermittent fasting is an interesting tool for weight loss that has been used by nutrition professionals for many years. However, it doesn’t seem to suit everyone. Do they promise to lose weight with her yes or yes? So it’s a complete hoax. If someone does, run away as far as you can.
I am Bhumi Shah, a highly skilled digital marketer with over 11 years of experience in digital marketing and content writing in the tech industry.