Is Intermittent Fasting The BEST Diet?
Not many nutritional trends have had such
a lasting and profound impact as… intermittent
Intermittent fasting, as the name suggest,
is a nutritional strategy where you deploy
intermittent periods of intentional fasting.
The length of fasting and eating windows can
Some people prescribe to rotating windows
of 24-hour fasting and 24-hour eating, aka
alternate day fasting.
Some prefer a 5/2 schedule, where 2 days of
the week is dedicated to fasting and 5 to
But perhaps the most popular of all intermittent
fasting protocols is the 16/8 approach: a
daily 16 hours of fasting and 8-hours allotted
During fasting periods, you’re not allowed
to eat or drink whatsoever with exceptions
for water and MAYBE black coffee or tea.
As you can see, intermittent fasting is far
removed from traditional eating patterns,
namely the breakfast, lunch, and dinner scheduling.
But why would you want to intermittently fast?
The biggest claim by fasting proponents is
that intermittent fasting is most effective
for weight loss.
There have been, however, even more recent
claims of benefits beyond weight loss, branching
into multiple aspects of health.
But has intermittent fasting actually shown
within research to provide these advantages,
or any advantage?
Or are the advocates simply peddling another
weight loss fad?
Well, in short, no, it’s not exactly like
There might be some use for it.
That being said, it’s also nothing special.
Let’s dig into the research.
In terms of general health, intermittent fasting
does not seem to fare any better than traditional
In a 2011 study, an intermittent energy restricted
intervention, i.e. intermittent fasting, yielded
similar results in multiple health markers
compared to continuous energy restriction,
aka regular eating patterns with a calorie
Both showed improvements in health markers
for insulin resistance, total cholesterol,
lipids, inflammation, and blood pressure,
but neither had an advantage over the other.
An older 2003 study reflected similar findings,
particularly in the case of lipids and fasting
Fasting or not, they concluded that the most
important factors are eating fewer calories
and getting professional health support.
Not too surprising.
Now on to the big fish: weight loss.
One of the most extensive research on this
matter is a 2015 systematic review, where
investigators examined 40 studies on fasting,
continuous calorie restriction, or comparison
of the two.
When taking all this data into consideration,
they found that fasting was no better for
losing weight than continuous calorie restriction.
On top of that, they found lean body mass,
fat mass, and waist-to-hip measurements were
also similar between fasting and continuous
Thus, in a total body composition perspective,
fasting showed zero advantage.
Same can be said about strength adaptations,
where another study paired resistance training
with either fasting or continuous eating and
found no difference in their results.
Furthermore, a 2016 meta-analysis, which focused
solely on studies lasting 6 months or longer,
found, again, that neither intermittent fasting
nor continuous eating were superior to one
another in the respect of weight loss.
Disclaimer though: This 2016 analysis only
had six trials.
We’ll see if future research finds any differences.
But now, taking the entirety of the current
research into consideration, intermittent
fasting is clearly not a magical weight loss
The common consensus within the findings is
that the most important factor is your calorie
You wanna lose weight?
Then eat fewer calories and/or burn more.
But then, why is it that intermittent fasting
is not like other fads?
Well, unlike other fads, with fasting, people
actually get results.
And that might have to do with fasting’s
unique capability of making it easier for
people to actually eat fewer calories.
After all, you’re given a very limited amount
of time to eat.
As long as you remain strict with your eating
window, it’ll be pretty tough to overeat.
There’s also another potential benefit.
For some, myself included, hunger levels are
much more manageable after adapting to intermittent
And luckily, this is not entirely based on
If we go back to the 2015 systematic review,
we’ll find 10 trials that investigated measures
Out of the 10 trials, 6 showed that intermittent
fasting led to either no changes or better
yet, a DECREASE in appetite compared to baseline,
all the while losing weight.
Now, in fairness, the other 4 studies did
report an increase in appetite with intermittent
This still tells us that fasting MIGHT help
you eat less through changing your mental
approach to food.
A potentially big win for those struggling
with appetite management for most of their
But clearly… not EVERYONE experiences this
benefit, so give it a shot and see for yourself.
Now before closing out, there’s one more
thing to talk about…
There have been recent developments in other
health factors related to intermittent fasting.
Notably, improved biomarkers indicating potential
reductions in cancer development, protection
against neurodegenerative diseases, and even
All of these biomarker improvements stem from
the effects of a single mechanism… known
Autophagy is a cellular process where dysfunctional
organelles and protein aggregates are destroyed
within the cell.
The material from the destruction are then
reused to construct new and improved organelles
or other macromolecules.
This type of repairing process improves overall
cellular function, which might explain the
neuroprotective and anti-cancer elements.
It also avoids cellular apoptosis, or cell
death, which supports longevity.
However, autophagy is NOT exclusive to intermittent
In fact, much of the early research on autophagy
was substantiated through, funny enough, calorie
That’s right, restricting calories can induce
Even high intensity endurance training has
shown to increase autophagy.
As well as coffee.
Also keep in mind that many of the findings
from fasting were done in mice and have yet
to be consistently replicated in human trials.
The few trials we have seen suggest that elevated
autophagy requires four to five days of fasting,
which isn’t exactly something many people
would want to do.
But the same can be said about staying in
long-term calorie deficits.
For now, waiting for more research on autophagy
to unravel is probably best, and that’s
before even considering best practices for
Nonetheless, it sure is fascinating and it’ll
be interesting to see how things develop.
And that’s about it.
Now what’s better?
Intermittent fasting or traditional eating?
As far as we currently can say, both seem
to do the trick just fine.
Both exert similar health benefits and similar
In the end, choose the diet schedule that
works for you.
The one you can stick to the best, the one
you enjoy doing the most, and, of course,
the one where you personally can achieve the
And I’m sure plenty of you have your own
thoughts and experiences with intermittent
Please share your stories in the comments
If you enjoyed this video, then do me a favor
and give it a thumbs up and share it with
your intermittent fasting-loving friends.
As always, thank you for watching, and, whether
you’re fasting or not, GET YOUR PROTEIN!