Intermittent Fasting vs Calorie Restriction
As people wanted to live a longer and healthier life, different eating patterns have been studied to determine which work best. It is no longer just about losing weight, but people are now looking to the health and ageing benefits of eating habits.
The new approaches to losing weight can sometimes be confusing. With the different diets introduced, which one could be the most effective?
Let’s take a look at the calorie restriction and intermittent fasting benefits, so you’ll know which eating pattern will work best for you.
What is Calorie Restriction?
Calorie restriction, also called starvation mode, means restricting or reducing the calories a person eats.
Calorie restricted diets limit the nutrients an individual gets, thus causing nutrient deficiencies. This eating pattern usually limits Vitamin A, Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, Biotin, and Thiamine.
This dietary regimen can be harmful because it puts the body on a metabolic slowdown.
Also, restricting calories severely can lead to health problems, such as fatigue, lowers immunity, weaker bones, and reduced fertility.
How is Calorie Restriction Different to Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting means not eating at all or severely limiting the intake for a specific day or set number of hours. This dietary regimen is a cycle of fasting and eating periods. There are several methods to do this eating pattern, so you can select which method your most comfortable with.
Continuous fasting opens up the stored food in the body. It burns first the glycogen stored in the liver. Then it burns the body fat. With plenty of supply of body fat, the basal metabolism will not drop.
During intermittent fasting, the noradrenalin rises, but the insulin drops, thus keeping the basal metabolism high.
Hormonal adaptations are triggered on this eating pattern, which is not possible with calorie restriction. Moreover, it increases the growth hormones, so the muscle or lean mass is maintained.
7 Amazing Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Here’s a list on some intermittent fasting benefits based on research.
1. Weight Loss
Weight loss is the most popular intermittent fasting benefits. When you’re fasting, the body uses the stored fat in the body as a source of energy. The longer you fast, the more fat will be burned. Most people who try intermittent fasting aims to lose weight.
Generally, intermittent fasting will help you lose weight as you try to eat fewer meals.
Additionally, it boosts the body’s metabolic rate (increasing the calories out) and reduces the total food intake (reducing the intake calories)
2. Healthy Metabolism
When you don’t eat for a while, several things happen in your body. For example, your body initiates critical cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible.
Here are some metabolism changes worth noting:
- Norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Intermittent fasting increases the norepinephrine, a hormone that boosts metabolism, so the body fat will be broken into free fatty acid to be used as a source for energy.
- A hormone involved in blood sugar management. Fasting decreases the insulin level in the body, which facilitates fat burning. Reduced insulin level lowers down the blood sugar level, thus protecting you from type 2 diabetes.
- Human growth hormone. The growth hormone will increase, which aids in fat loss and muscle gain. It can also help improve your body composition.
3. Healthy heart
Those who show self-control on how many calories they drink or eat tend to have weight control and healthy eating choices. Regular fasting decreases bad cholesterol and metabolizes sugar. This reduces the risk of developing diabetes and gaining weight, which are risk factors for heart disease.
4. Maintains Muscle Mass
Some dieting methods tend to burn muscle mass. But, with intermittent fasting, it will only lose the body fat while holding on to the muscle.
5. Reduced Risk of Cancer
Intermittent fasting decreases the biological factors which link to cancer, like inflammation and insulin levels. This eating pattern could delay the onset of tumors and reduced cancer risk. Wherein cancer patients, but further research needs to be done to support the claim.
Moreover, some evidence shows that fasting reduced the side effects of chemotherapy on cancer patients.
6. Good for Your Brain
Intermittent fasting increases the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a brain hormone, which is responsible for learning and memory. It improves the brain function as it increases the growth of new nerve cells preventing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Since there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, so preventing it is critical.
This method improves various metabolic processes, which is beneficial for brain health, such as reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and blood sugar levels. This includes reduced oxidative stress, inflammation, and blood sugar levels.
7. Longer lifespan
Studies show that fasting can build resistance against age-related diseases.
Given the intermittent fasting benefits for metabolism and one’s health, it just makes sense that it can provide and healthier and longer life.
Which Fasting Schedule is Right for You?
Intermittent fasting is a timed approach to eating. It doesn’t require a dietary plan or specific food that a person can eat or avoid. With intermittent fasting, you can eat whatever you want, and just set a specific day when you will fast. Fasting may not be suitable for everyone, but it provides positive results to those who practice it.
1. The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day
The 16/8 method involves daily fasts of 16 hours for men and 14-15 hours for women. Each day you’ll restrict you’re eating to an 8- to 10-hour “eating window” where you can fit in 2, 3, or more meals.
2. The 5:2 diet: Fast for 2 days per week
The 5:2 diet, or the Fast diet, involves eating 500-600 calories for two days out of the week and eating normally the other 5 days.
3. Eat-Stop-Eat: Do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week
Eat-Stop-Eat is an intermittent fasting program with one or two 24-hour fasts per week.
4. Alternate-day fasting: Fast every other day
Alternate-day fasting means fasting every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.
5. The Warrior Diet: Fast during the day, eat a huge meal at night
The Warrior Diet is about eating only small amounts of vegetables and fruits during the day and eating one huge meal at night.
6. Spontaneous meal skipping: Skip meals when convenient
Another more “natural” way to do intermittent fasting is to simply skip one or two meals when you don’t feel hungry or don’t have time to eat.
How Long Should You Intermittent Fast?
There is no study conducted to determine the exact amount of time a person needs to fast, but it is somewhere around 12-18 hours. It may take a couple of days before it will start to burn the fat.
Intermittent fasting is twice as good as calorie restriction in burning visceral fat. Visceral fat is the dangerous fat that wraps the major organs like the kidney, liver, and pancreas.
In terms of weight loss, fasting works better than calorie restriction. Moreover, almost 6 times of fat mass percentage is lost in intermittent fasting.
The intermittent fasting benefits even those who have hormonal imbalance such as obesity. So if you are comfortable fasting, this will provide you a sustainable way of eating. You can use this regimen to improve your health while losing the unnecessary fat in your body.
If you’re looking to get started with intermittent fasting, check out our complete beginners guide to fasting.