Intermittent fasting diets have become very popular over the past few years, so I was excited to see a systematic review (which is a well-credentialed research paper analysing all of the best scientific work on the topic) published recently.
The research by Dr Seimon and colleagues found that, done correctly, they produce similar results to continuous calorie restriction. However, on the plus side, the research suggests that there may be some benefits in terms of the body becoming used to kilojoule deficits and adapting your metabolism to compensate. There’s also an obvious benefit in terms of practicalities – it makes sense to be strict on some days, and not as strict on others, particularly when you want to socialise.
However, they’re not a magic bullet either. For starters it’s important to make sure that you’re meeting all of your nutritional requirements every day. You can’t eat 10 pavlovas on one day, then counter this by eating nothing but lettuce leaves the next. It’s not emotionally healthy to eat that way, and you’ll compromise your nutrition. The ‘fasting’ or ‘restrictive’ days are usually best achieved using formulated meal replacements to ensure that you are still getting all of your nutrition requirements. The ‘non-restrictive’ days aren’t there to encourage you in binge, but just to eat a normal, healthy diet.
In practice, I’ve personally found that most people do best by starting with continuous restriction, then modifying to intermittent fasting after a few weeks. This works well as it provides variety and keeps you engaged. If you’ve got more questions about this topic, please feel free to get in touch. We’d love to answer your questions!