In the past you have already been able to read a number of articles about it intermittent fasting (IF). Today I want to delve a little further into the pros and cons of this; not only the advantages or disadvantages on your lifestyle, but more on the direct effects on your shape, health and physical. After this article, you should be able to argue for yourself in which phases of your diet or life IF will or will not be the optimal approach.
The benefits of Intermittent Fasting
IF is a diet strategy. Diet strategies are generally used when losing weight; arriving is often a lot more straightforward (although this can definitely be a fight in the long term, but perhaps we will devote an article to it another time). IF is therefore used when people want to lose weight; hence this is the first benefit I want to talk about. After all, if IF had no benefits in terms of calorie intake, it would be a diet strategy of nothing.
Intermittent Fasting to lose weight
Because we want to eat all our food in a limited number of hours per day and we divide our food into meals, this automatically means that we will consume a limited number of meals per day. 2, maybe 3, but it will stop there. If you eat little or no junk food this can be a great method to lose weight, even without counting calories. It is quite a challenge to get thousands of calories from 'clean' food, especially if you also eat a large portion of fruit and vegetables.
This makes IF an excellent method for people who want to start losing weight, without immediately wanting to weigh their diet.
Intermittent Fasting for your digestive tract
Another benefit is reduced stress on the digestive tract. During bulk periods we usually eat a lot for longer periods and also with a good regularity. This definitely has its effect on the digestive tract, potentially detrimental. After all, the digestive tract can also be over-stimulated or overloaded. For this reason alone, it is advisable to insert a cut period once in a while; not only for your shape, but also to give the body time to recover.
IF can be an extra step in this; further restricting the amount of hours per day gives your digestive tract more time to process everything and restore itself. Large amounts of food are not so much the problem, but large amounts of food with a high frequency are.
Intermittent Fasting and time management
IF can provide an advantage in terms of time management. Many people are very stuck in the rhythm of having to eat at least 3 or 4 times a day, at set times. This means that the other daily activities must be arranged at these times; getting up earlier for breakfast, as mentioned in the other article, but also stopping work for lunch and leaving work on time to be home for dinner. In addition, some activities with a full stomach are less pleasant, which further restricts the freedom of planning.
If you are not hungry in the morning and are well rested, it may be a good idea to choose these hours for productivity instead of breakfast.
Intermittent Fasting and blood sugar regulation
IF can also have a positive effect on your blood sugar regulation; Cortisol and insulin have a somewhat opposite effect when it comes to blood glucose regulation; insulin will help to lower blood glucose when it is high, while (among other things) cortisol will help to raise blood glucose when it is too low. Long periods of high calorie intake, or periods of high and regular carbohydrates can slightly disturb this balance or at least cause the sensitivity to insulin to be reduced.
IF can offer a solution, because both the lower calorie intake and the extended periods without an increase in insulin above baseline can improve the sensitivity to this hormone.
A debatable advantage ...
Many articles also mention increased growth hormone values among the benefits of IF, in the same breath with 'so more muscle protein synthesis and potential for growth in muscle mass'. Although it is certainly true that growth hormone levels rise during fasting, this has little to nothing to do with more muscle growth.
Growth hormone does not have so much an effect on muscle growth in this context, but more on it nutrient partitioning. This means that growth hormone ensures that all tissues that can use fat as fuel will use fat as fuel, so that glucose remains available for the brain / nerve cells. This is also the reason that increased growth hormone levels will be present at night; This has nothing to do with the fact that the body wants to grow, but all with making sure that the brain has fuel available.
The growth hormone peak that occurs at IF will also drop immediately as soon as power is introduced into the system.
The disadvantages of Intermittent Fasting
Of course there are not only advantages to IF, so we now deal with the disadvantages.
Possibly less muscle building due to Intermittent Fasting
Long-term IF handling can have negative consequences for testosterone and / or IGF-1 levels in the body. These 2 hormones have a strong correlation with muscle growth; in other words, IF does not seem to be the most optimal approach when it comes to muscle building. Apart from the fact that, from an hormonal point of view, IF may be less optimal for muscle building, the advantage of IF with regard to cutting is also a disadvantage with regard to bulging;
Creating an energy surplus during IF, especially if we opt for a healthy (er) diet, can be quite a challenge. Furthermore, gastric emptying takes longer when large meals are consumed; something to take into account when the stomach may still be full from a previous meal and it is already time for the next one.
In addition, it is best to make an argument with regard to the alignment of the macro proportions of meals; I handle myself (as far as possible) a separation between carbohydrates and fats; this becomes impossible in a kcal surplus while trying to handle IF.
Nutrient Timing becomes an obstacle
The timing of meals and also nutrients with IF thus becomes a bigger problem in a surplus. In addition, it becomes a lot more difficult to time and achieve specific diet moments and effects; for example, a large dose of carbohydrates before your training can slightly depress your neurological output because of the increased insulin hormone values around a workout. However, you want to limit this stress as much as possible around your training and optimally use it for the rest of the day rest and digest instead of fight or flight. Large amounts of vegetables and antioxidants will also be able to somewhat inhibit your training incentive, but if you only have a limited number of hours to get your fruit and vegetables in, timing becomes a very difficult story during IF.
The conclusion about Intermittent Fasting
IF is certainly not the holy grail when it comes to diet strategies. Nothing is optimal in all situations, including IF; however, it can be a good strategy in some situations, for example when you don't feel like tracking calories, but want to lose weight, or when it's time to give your digestive tract time and space to recover, or you want to reduce systemic stress.
Do you have questions regarding this article? Or do you want to share your own experiences with regard to IF? We look forward to your response!
Jan Willem van der Klis