The concept of dieting implies restrictions. In most cases, it is certain foods that are banned from your menu or the amount of calories that you can consume throughout the day is restricted. But there is another kind of diets which is now gaining ground: intermittent fasting. A recent research suggests it can be a good option for those who want to get rid of some extra pounds.
The very idea of fasting does not appeal to the majority of people living today – now that the media keep on promoting the enjoy-life-to-the-full attitude, it is no wonder few ever consider depriving themselves of the opportunity to enjoy food whenever they want. However, fasting can be beneficial in many ways, and one of them is losing weight. What is more, the approach is healthy.
What is intermittent fasting?
It is what its name suggests: periods of fasting are interspersed with periods when you are allowed to eat. To be exact, you are supposed to refrain from eating for 16 hours a day. While it may seem to be cruel at best, you can eat whatever you wish during the remaining 8 hours. Hence the name – 16:8.
Actually, it is not as scary as it may sound. Time-restricted eating is quite easy and effective, and you do not really have to focus on your empty stomach all days long. In fact, those who prefer16:8 diet sleep for the most of the fasting period. Say, if you schedule your eat-whatever-you-want period to be between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., it does not look that terrible after all.
Today, more people are converting to 16:8 proponents. They claim this approach to nutrition yields great results and can help you lose weight, and anecdotal evidence has recently been supported by research.
Does it work?
Scientific evidence suggests it does. A team of researchers at University of Illinois at Chicago reported that intermittent fasting can be an effective weight loss strategy and result in lower blood pressure.
They carried out a study in which 23 obese volunteers were enrolled. They had an average BMI of 35 and were 45 years old on average. The only restriction was eating time: the participants could eat only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., but there were no forbidden foods or even calorie counting. During the rest of the day, they could drink water, coffee and other calorie-free drinks (even diet soda was not banished from the menu!). The volunteers followed the diet for 12 weeks.
After that, their results were compared to those of the participants from another study, which focused on the effects of alternate day fasting. Its participants were used as controls. When the researchers analyzed the data they had collected, they found that those put on the intermittent fasting diet lost 3 percent of their body weight, and had lower blood pressure than those who took part in the control trial (their systolic blood pressure was 7 mm lower). Besides, the volunteers trying intermittent fasting ate 350 fewer calories than their counterparts.
Still, some parameters that are associated with health risks remained the same: no changes in cholesterol, insulin resistance and fat mass were detected.
Another piece of evidence suggesting intermittent fasting is beneficial to health was published in 2018. According to a team at University of Florida, the diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, slow down aging processes, benefit metabolic processes, and have a range of other positive effects.
As seen from what is written above, intermittent fasting is definitely an option to consider – be it a way to lose weight or just one more healthy diet option that you are looking for. There are drawbacks, though. Large-scale studies are needed to find out if there are long-term effects, and some of those who tried it say it is difficult to eat out when following the diet. Still, as of this moment, intermittent diet looks like a diet worth trying.
16/8 Intermittent Fasting: A Beginner’s Guide – healthline.com
Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting – onlinelibrary.wiley.com