Intermittent fasting, the practice of restricting calories for an entire day (intra-weekly fasting) or for a portion of a day (intra-daily fasting) combined with ad libitum eating during non-fasting periods has grown significantly in popularity over the last ten years. The general public’s interest in fasting has been mirrored by growing interest from the scientific community.
Authors of a brand-new review published in the scientific journal Nutrients summarized the current research on the effects of intermittent fasting on fat loss and muscle gain.
A preponderance of scientific research suggests that intermittent fasting is effective for fat loss. However, fasting isn’t any more effective than daily caloric restriction (simply eating slightly less, all day long). So, if your goal is fat loss, you can choose the eating approach that you prefer.
More importantly, the researchers also concluded that because intermittent fasting involves prolonged periods of minimal protein consumption, intermittent fasting is not advisable if your goal is to lose fat while simultaneously increasing lean muscle. The researchers concluded: “For the goal of maximizing muscle growth (as opposed to merely preserving it), intermittent fasting in all of its forms would seem to be suboptimal because it has the potential to compromise net increases in Muscle Protein Synthesis, especially during sustained hypocaloric conditions (periods in which a person is fasting and consuming very few calories).”
A final important note: These findings apply only to fat loss and muscle gain. Research does support other benefits of fasting. For example, authors of a comprehensive meta-analysis concluded that Ramadan fasting improved cardiometabolic health (while concurrently contributing to fat loss).
Want to read the Nutrients article? You can find it HERE.