Intermittent fasting, which is a form of dieting that limits your meals to certain times, may have some beneficial results depending on a person’s goals. But when it relates to weight loss—if that is your goal—a new study released in Science Translational Medicine proves the approach is not better than just lowering the total calories you consume daily, and eating them at random times.
Actually, intermittent fasting could be harmful to your muscles, according to leading researcher James Betts, Ph.D., director at the Center for Exercise, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
Researchers found 36 people and assigned each person into one of three groups for almost one month. The first group did not intermittently fast and only reduced their calories by 25%. The other two fasted on alternating days, with one group doing a fast day and then a day eating 50% more than normal and the other group consuming 100% more.
At the study’s end, the 100% more group had no weight loss, while the no-fast group of people and the 50% group both shed around the same total of weight but with one key difference. The people who fasted and then consumed 50% more shed more muscle mass than the people who did not fast.
“Because of these findings, anyone who tries to do intermittent fasting must keep in mind that they have to do more exercise to keep muscle mass,” Betts said.
Another issue to think about here is quality of the foods you eat, Kristin Gillespie, M.S., R.D., a dietitian said.
“You might help your weight loss if you are eating less calories simply because you are lowering the number of hours that you are eating,” she said. “However, there is a possibility to offset this calorie deficit if you are eating calorie-dense foods.”
The idea behind intermittent fasting is that you are meant to eat nutrient-dense and healthy foods in a normal amount during a shorter timeframe, she said. When you move away from that using junk food, it’s very doubtful you get benefits from 12 hours fasting or more.
Author: Blake Ambrose