Trying to lose weight? You’ve probably figured out that cutting calories long-term is not the answer. The pounds may come off initially, but the weight always seems to come back. Yet while long-term dieting doesn’t work, new research has shown that brief periods of restricting food intake is actually good for you and may help you lose weight.
Two new studies show the benefits of “intermittent fasting”, or brief periods where no food is consumed. The first study, from The Journal of Applied Physiology, studied the effect of fasting on insulin resistance, a problem central to the obesity epidemic. The study had volunteers fast for 20 hours (skipping breakfast and lunch) every other day for 14 days. After two weeks, the subjects showed greater insulin sensitivity and improved fat burning.
The second study, presented in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, had subjects engage in alternate-day fasting, where they consumed no food every other day for 21 days. After the study, subjects showed significant weight loss and improved fat oxidation.
Why does intermittent fasting work so well? The eating pattern emulates that of our Stone Age ancestors, who often ate according to feast or famine – not three squares a day. There’s even research that suggests this ancient way of eating may improve cardiovascular health. A recent study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that intermittent fasting could offer protective benefits for both the heart and the brain.
Give this style of eating a try. There is no long-term deprivation associated with it, and you can eat in large amounts when the fasting ends. Give your system a break and skip some meals now and then – your body will thank you for it.
Matt Metzgar, Ph.D., is a health and fitness writer based in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information, go to: http://www.mattmetzgar.com