If you're doing intermittent fasting without seeing any benefits on the scale, it may be because you're skipping the wrong meal. Shivani Sikri, Chief Nutritionist & Founder at Nutri4Verve, discusses the insights of successful intermittent fasting for lasting results.
The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has similar effects to calorie restriction but is easier to follow over the long term. Its health benefits are numerous and intermittent fasting can be a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle thanks to its beneficial effects. Intermittent fasting is also beneficial for cardiovascular health, as it improves cardiovascular risk factors: it reduces blood pressure, blood lipid levels and resting heart rate.
A series of studies show that intermittent fasting promotes cellular health, probably by triggering an adaptation to periods of food shortage, a kind of metabolic "switching". This phenomenon occurs when the cells deplete their stores of readily available sugar-based fuel and begin to convert fat into energy (in the form of ketone bodies) through a slower metabolic process. This change improves blood sugar regulation and oxidative stress resistance and decreases inflammation. Ketone bodies are not just a source of energy during fasting but have essential effects on metabolism.
Intermittent fasting can also improve physical performance and benefit brain health.
The plate contents are not the only food parameter to impact health and weight, and the quantity of food swallowed either: the time of meals also matters.
Indeed, our circadian rhythm (regulation of the body on a 24-hour cycle by waking and sleeping) implies that certain types of nutrients are metabolized differently during the daily process.
This circadian rhythm notably influences the production of hormones. But the latter play a significant role in the storage and release of fat, whether related to carbohydrate metabolism (insulin), stress (cortisol) or biological sex (testosterone, estrogen).
Taking into account the effects of the circadian cycle on nutritional metabolism in the case of fasting seems to be relevant, primarily if fasting is undertaken to lose weight.
Skip Breakfast Or Skip Dinner?
Research has shown that skipping one's dinner is more effortless and healthier. Having an early dinner or heavy evening snacks can pause your hunger cravings during the night.
During IF, even if the food is the same (same number of calories) and the only difference is the time of food intake, there can be a difference in the effects of intermittent fasting, in particular on oxidation (use as source energy) of lipids and carbohydrates as well as their storage.
Despite similar energy intake and expenditure, there is a difference in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism between the two regimens (skip breakfast Vs skip dinner).
Taking a snack in the evening/ or late dinner favours the oxidation of carbohydrates to the detriment of lipids. Indeed, taking a snack in the evening would help maintain glycogen stocks (a form of carbohydrate storage) in the liver, causing a reduction in the need for lipid oxidation during night fasting.
Ultimately, such a meal pattern where having a meal at dinner results in more excellent fat storage and weight gain, despite the expected benefits of fasting.
During intermittent fasting, there is a risk of "cheating" by eating more before and after the fast and reducing physical activity, which could negate the benefits of fasting and decrease the chances of weight loss.