Intermittent fasting warning: ‘Downside’ of popular diet choice could impact weight loss

Why Do I Put On Weight: Expert discusses intermittent fasting

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Intermittent fasting has long been a popular choice for those wanting to lose weight, and has been hailed by dieting professionals. But there have been no studies as of yet that have shown intermittent fasting to be any better than conventional diets.

Kerri Ferraioli, Nutritionist at Food Sensitivity Specialists YorkTest revealed her take on the popular diet trend.

“Intermittent fasting has considerably grown in popularity over the last two years,” she said.

“The diet, which involves switching between fasting and eating on a regular schedule, doesn’t restrict any specific foods when you’re in the period of eating normally.

“Intermittent fasting can help you to lose weight and improve your health when done correctly and safely, as it’s likely to reduce your daily calorie intake.”

But she added: “However it should not be undertaken as part of a crash diet, and it’s important to ensure that you always consume at least 1,200 calories per day, and pay attention to how you feel.”

Instead, Ms Ferraioli suggested a strategy to help curb those hunger pains.

“If you’re constantly hungry, it may be worth adjusting your fasting time to avoid feeling further hunger symptoms such as headaches, weakness, and a lack of energy,” she said.

Despite its popularity within the dieting world date, numerous studies have shown intermittent fasting is as good as counting calories when it comes to weight loss.

David Clayton, a senior lecturer in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at Nottingham Trent University, said: “This has even been shown with many different types of intermittent fasting, including alternate-day fasting (where you fast or restrict calories every other day), 5:2 dieting (eating normally five days a week, then fasting or restricting calories for two days) and time-restricted eating (where you eat all of your days calories within a set time window, such as only eating during an eight hour window, then fasting for 16 hours).

“But no studies have yet shown intermittent fasting to be any better than conventional diets.”

He also warned of the “downside” to the diet.

“Intermittent fasting reduces the amount you eat, but it may have a downside,” he said.

“It both reduces the amount of physical activity we do, and reduces how hard we push during exercise.”

He revealed that this is “true regardless of the type of intermittent fasting you do”.

“This suggests that when calorie intake is substantially reduced – even for a short period of time – the body adapts by reducing the number of calories used during exercise.

“Researchers aren’t entirely sure why this happens, however.”

If a person is beginning to partake in less physical activity, these low levels can have other negative effects on their health over time.

Mr Clayton referenced a recent alternate-day fasting study that found that even just three weeks of this diet reduced physical activity levels and led to a greater loss of muscle mass than a daily calorie restriction diet. The fasting diet was also less effective than daily calorie restriction for fat loss.

“Muscle mass is crucial for many reasons, including regulating blood sugar levels and staying physically able as we get older,” he said.

“So diets that cause muscle loss are best avoided. However, combining intermittent fasting with exercise programmes – such as resistance training – may help people better maintain lean muscle mass while encouraging fat loss.”

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