be­lieve it or not,

Oxygen - - Thrive -

fast­ing wasn’t in­vented by In­sta­gram hash­tags — in fact, peo­ple have been fast­ing for thou­sands of years: Our an­ces­tors did it (usu­ally be­cause they didn’t have a con­stant sup­ply of food stashed in the fridge), and a num­ber of re­li­gious events such as Ra­madan re­volve around some form of di­etary fast.

As the name im­plies, in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing (IF) is a sys­tem dur­ing which you al­ter­nate be­tween pe­ri­ods of re­stricted calo­rie in­take and pe­ri­ods of nor­mal eat­ing. To be clear, IF does not re­strict the kinds of foods you can eat — as do di­ets like Paleo or keto — just how much you can eat on cer­tain days of the week. Many swear by IF be­cause it’s easy to im­ple­ment, re­quires noth­ing dra­co­nian like a hor­ri­ble juice cleanse, and it has been proved to be one of the speed­i­est and sus­tain­able ways to torch fat stores and pro­mote a lean physique.


Fast­ing has been a fa­vorite re­search topic as of late, and a num­ber of stud­ies have found in­ter­mit­tent en­ergy re­stric­tion — in which peo­ple ate fewer than 800 calo­ries at least once per week — to be a valid weight-loss strat­egy, at least in the short term. In one study, weight loss was sim­i­lar among par­tic­i­pants fol­low­ing ei­ther a heart-healthy diet or a high-protein, re­duced-calo­rie IF reg­i­men for three months. How­ever, the IF diet won out for min­i­miz­ing weight re­gain af­ter one year. An­other in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed that IF was just as good at strip­ping body fat as sim­ple calo­rie cut­ting. How­ever, IF did a bet­ter job at pre­serv­ing lean body mass.

As to how ex­actly IF helps sculpt your physique, the­o­ries abound: Some pro­pose that IF flips a meta­bolic switch that en­cour­ages your body to burn more fat. Oth­ers state that since IF re­stricts your win­dow of eat­ing, you’re likely to eat fewer calo­ries dur­ing the course of a week, help­ing trim the waist­line with less risk of los­ing mus­cle. Even more stud­ies pro­pose that IF might help peo­ple get in touch with their true feel­ings of sati­ety and full­ness on food-re­stricted days, which can put the brakes on overeat­ing dur­ing times of nor­mal food in­take.

On an­other front, IF may have other pos­i­tive ef­fects on your body, such as re­duc­ing mem­ory loss, im­prov­ing choles­terol and blood pres­sure, and help­ing pre­vent di­a­betes by im­prov­ing in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity. And con­trary to logic, IF could ac­tu­ally help — not hurt — your phys­i­cal per­for­mance at the gym: A 2018 study in the

Jour­nal of the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety of Sports Nutri­tion found that ath­letes who par­tic­i­pated in an ev­ery-other-day fast­ing pro­to­col (eat­ing 33 per­cent of their nor­mal calo­rie in­take on fast­ing days) for six weeks be­came more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient dur­ing ex­er­cise, re­ported less fa­tigue and ex­pe­ri­enced re­duced body­fat lev­els. Re­searchers the­o­rize that oc­ca­sional en­ergy re­stric­tion might spur changes in hor­mones and mi­to­chon­drial func­tion, help­ing you get more out of your work­outs.

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