Intermittent Fasting (IF) continues to be a popular approach to weight loss. It’s not a new approach, and most of my comments HERE still hold up. Since that vid, a number of studies in humans have been done, and the effects have not been impressive. The study below, the largest to date, that ran 50 weeks, did not find major differences in weight loss, and other endpoints looked at.

I’m not ready to dismiss IF per se, as there’s still more questions then answers. In this case, in obese non-exercising people, a 5;2 IF protocol was not superior to calorie matched diet for weight loss. The next step would be comparing different IF protocols. For example, perhaps the  5:2 approach may not potentiate endocrine adaptation as well as other approaches, or maybe different protocols will be more effective for different populations. Fact is, we don’t have the answers at this time, and what exists for human studies small and or short term.

Also, what impact does IF have on performance or strength? Does a strength or physique athlete respond differently to IF than say an endurance athlete?

Bottom line at this time, find the approach you find most beneficial to your goals, but don’t fall for IF being a magical approach to fat loss, cuz it’s not.

Effects of intermittent and continuous calorie restriction on body weight and metabolism over 50 wk: a randomized controlled trial
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 108, Issue 5, 1 November 2018, Pages 933–945,

ABSTRACT
Background
Although preliminary evidence suggests that intermittent calorie restriction (ICR) exerts stronger effects on metabolic parameters, which may link obesity and major chronic diseases, compared with continuous calorie restriction (CCR), there is a lack of well-powered intervention studies.
Objective
We conducted a randomized controlled trial to test whether ICR, operationalized as the “5:2 diet,” has stronger effects on adipose tissue gene expression, anthropometric and body composition measures, and circulating metabolic biomarkers than CCR and a control regimen.
Design
One hundred and fifty overweight and obese nonsmokers [body mass index (kg/m2) ≥25 to <40, 50% women], aged 35–65 y, were randomly assigned to an ICR group (5 d without energy restriction and 2 d with 75% energy deficit, net weekly energy deficit ∼20%), a CCR group (daily energy deficit ∼20%), or a control group (no advice to restrict energy) and participated in a 12-wk intervention phase, a 12-wk maintenance phase, and a 26-wk follow-up phase.
Results
Loge relative weight change over the intervention phase was −7.1% ± 0.7% (mean ± SEM) with ICR, −5.2% ± 0.6% with CCR, and −3.3% ± 0.6% with the control regimen (Poverall < 0.001, PICR vs. CCR = 0.053). Despite slightly greater weight loss with ICR than with CCR, there were no significant differences between the groups in the expression of 82 preselected genes in adipose tissue implicated in pathways linking obesity to chronic diseases. At the final follow-up assessment (week 50), weight loss was −5.2% ± 1.2% with ICR, −4.9% ± 1.1% with CCR, and −1.7% ± 0.8% with the control regimen (Poverall = 0.01, PICR vs. CCR = 0.89). These effects were paralleled by proportional changes in visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue volumes. There were no significant differences between ICR and CCR regarding various circulating metabolic biomarkers.
Conclusion
Our results on the effects of the “5:2 diet” indicate that ICR may be equivalent but not superior to CCR for weight reduction and prevention of metabolic diseases.
2 Comments
  1. elizabeth maron 7 months ago

    Will, are there any studies on other health benefits from IF that are not regarding weight loss? Cholesterol, insulin resistance, autophagy, as those are the band wagon claims for reasons to IF too.

    • Author
      Will Brink 7 months ago

      In this study, they looked at “various circulating metabolic biomarkers” and found no differences. The specifics can be found in the full paper linked. There are small studies that didn’t last long that have suggested improvements in various metabolic biomarkers other than weight loss were improved with IF, but larger studies being done coming out have been – as is often the case – much less impressive in those endpoints.

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