Intermittent Fasting, in a nutshell, is when a person cycles between periods of eating and not eating. The two most popular methods are:
- 16:8 Diet (you eat during an 8-hour window and fast for the remaining 16 hours)
- 5:2 Diet (two days out of the week you eat 600 calories or less).
There’s a large body of research to support the health benefits of fasting: weight loss, a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, improved heart and brain health, and a reduced risk of cancer. However, most of this research has been conducted on animals, not humans. Mice, specifically.
The largest study on humans to date was conducted by the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Ruth Schübel and her team at DKFZ examined 150 overweight and obese study participants for a FULL YEAR. At the start of the study, the participants were randomly classified into three groups:
- The first group of 50 participants followed a conventional calorie restriction diet that reduced daily calorie intake by 20 percent.
- The second group of 50 followed 5:2 intermittent fasting plan that also saved 20 percent of calorie intake over the whole week.
- The remaining 50 comprised the control group. They followed no specific diet plan but were advised, like all other participants, to eat a well-balanced diet.
Following the actual dieting phase, the investigators documented the participants’ weight and health status for an additional 38 weeks. So what’d they discover?
The researchers found that improvements in health status were THE SAME WITH BOTH DIETARY METHODS (conventional calorie restriction and intermittent fasting).
“In participants of both groups, body weight and, along with it, visceral fat, or unhealthy belly fat, were lost and extra fat in the liver reduced,” Schübel reported.
So what’s this all mean? Plain and simple, weight loss improves overall health. Period. Assuming a well-balanced diet, the dietary method is really up to you. If it’s easier for you to restrict calories two days a week, go that route. If you love data and would rather use an app, grab your phone and log your food daily. In short, do what works for you!