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Intermittent fasting is no more effective than normal diet – Say Experts

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

Intermittent fasting does not take off better than with a normal diet – rather the opposite, as a study now suggests. In terms of total weight and metabolism, there were only minor differences between the two diet forms.

But during alternating fasting, the test subjects lost less body fat and more muscle substance than the participants with a consistently calorie-reduced diet, as the researchers report in the journal “Science Translational Medicine”.

Intermittent fasting is considered a particularly healthy and effective form of weight loss. Its main purpose is to help people who find it difficult to adhere to a consistent diet. With intermittent fasting, you eat normally, but you always have times without food. 

Depending on the variant, this fasting break takes place daily, every other day or you fast two days a week and eat normally during the remaining five.

Despite its great popularity, the real benefits of intermittent fasting are debatable. Studies suggest that at least 5: 2 intermittent fasting offers neither weight loss nor metabolism advantages over a normal, low-calorie diet. 

In addition, this form of diet seems to be of little help, especially with stubborn belly fat.

Alternating fasting versus continuous diet

Another study now raises doubts about the supposedly better effectiveness of intermittent fasting. In it, Iain Templeman from the University of Bath and his colleagues compared the effects of a normal diet with two types of alternating fasting. In this case, a day of fasting is followed by a day of normal or slightly reduced nutrition. Participants were 39 healthy women and men of normal weight.

In the diet test, the first group followed alternating fasting, in which they ate a maximum of 150 percent of their calorie requirement on the day of meal – together with the fasting day, this resulted in an average of 75 percent of the basal metabolic rate being reduced. The second group followed a normal diet with a daily restriction of 75 percent of the calorie requirement. The third group does alternate fasting, but was allowed to eat so much on the day of the meal that there was no gross calorie reduction.

At the beginning and after three weeks, all test persons were weighed, their body fat measured and metabolic parameters determined using blood samples.

No significant differences in total weight and metabolism

It turned out:

“Intermittent fasting was not more effective in losing weight than daily calorie reduction,” report Templeman and his colleagues. 

Quite the opposite: despite the same average intake of calories, the participants in the long-term diet group lost an average of 1.91 kilograms, while those in the first alternating fasting group lost 1.60 kilograms. In the second, less restrictive, alternating fasting group, the weight loss was only 0.5 kilograms.

Contrary to expectations, there were no significant differences in the blood values ​​either. Although intermittent fasting is said to have a disproportionately positive effect on the metabolism and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, the scientists found no evidence of this in their test subjects. 

“In addition, we did not find any fact-specific patterns in the activity of key genes in subcutaneous adipose tissue,” they report.

Reduced fat loss, increased muscle loss

Also surprising: With the normal diet, almost all of the weight loss success was due to lost body fat. When alternating fasting, on the other hand, the test subjects lost half of their fat and half of non-fatty tissue such as muscles. 

Intermittent fasting is actually supposed to counteract this loss of important muscle tissue. 

“But on the basis of our data, we cannot confirm that intermittent fasting contributes to muscle maintenance,” state the scientists.

According to Templeman and his team, their results suggest that continuous diet will produce better results in terms of fat loss and health than alternating fasting. 

“Because, according to our data, alternating fasting is less suitable for reducing the percentage of body fat,” said the researchers. 

If intermittent fasting is still easier for you, you should try to exercise enough. Because the study data showed that the subjects moved significantly less on the fasting days and thus possibly promoted muscle breakdown.

“Not fully recommended”

According to other expert who was not involved in the study said:

The paper underpins the results of earlier test series in which intermittent fasting only showed an advantage in body weight compared to the unchanged isocaloric diet.

In his opinion, the data on the benefits of intermittent fasting are still insufficient to recommend this nutritional model.

Both the expert consulted by the Revyuh team and Templeton and colleagues consider it important to conduct further, larger-scale studies on intermittent fasting. 

Intermittent fasting is usually advertised with reference to animal studies. There, certain animal models – but not all – show an improvement in metabolism and even a longer lifespan. In humans, however, this proof has not been provided! 

Says Kabisch.

Source: AAAS, Science Media Center

Image Credit: Getty

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