The study in question, which was published in the journal Cell Metabolism, looked at the effects of intermittent fasting on mice, and found that the study design was flawed.
Science and medicine is finally catching up with the idea of intermittent fasting, but science and the media are both struggling to catch up. In the past, intermittent fasting has been viewed with skepticism by many people because it has been more common among very skinny people and in the very specific settings of extreme endurance athletes. The new study, however, shows that intermittent fasting could be beneficial to people who are obese, and that it could even be a weight-loss solution for people who are severely obese.
Intermittent fasting is the latest trend gaining traction among dieters, as it promises to melt off unwanted pounds without the need to exercise, or to change your eating habits in any way. The common belief is that you can eat during a fasting window (typically 8-12 hours), and “fast” for the rest of the day. People have been doing this since the early 1900s, as the fasting window was often really short. A lot has changed since then, though, and the rest of the day is no longer forbidden.
Intermittent fasting offers no advantages, according to a recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Closer inspection, however, shows that this result should be taken with care.
The researchers discovered that limiting meals for a longer length of time did not lead to greater weight reduction or metabolic advantages. There are more questions than answers in this well-designed randomized controlled study.
However, I must confess that when I initially saw the findings of this research, I was taken aback. I’ve previously written on the advantages of time-restricted eating, and I’m a huge believer in intermittent fasting. I use this technique personally, suggest it to my patients, and write articles about it.
But this new information made me wonder: What does this imply for those who follow a temporary diet, which has become one of the most popular weight-loss methods?
I’m also curious whether this new research invalidates the idea of eating for a restricted amount of time. However, there are many facts and cautions to examine before making a judgment, as with every disagreement.
Dr. Ethan Weiss, a prominent preventive cardiologist and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, is the study’s main author. He was also a guest on episode #56 of the podcast, which was published on October 5th. I have a lot of respect for him, both personally and professionally.
The authors of Dr. Weiss’ research randomly assigned 116 overweight people to either Consistent Meal Selection (CMT) or Time Restricted Eating (TRE) (TRE). The SMT group consumed three meals each day, as well as snacks as needed. The TRE group was told to eat all of their calories between midday and 8 p.m.
There were no recommendations or limitations on what to eat or how much to consume. The participants were only informed of the meal times.
The control diet was followed by 92 percent of the individuals in the CMT group, but only 83 percent of the people in the ERT group. Weight reduction and metabolic indicators (glucose, insulin, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), blood pressure, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol) were not significantly different between the two groups after 12 weeks.
In the TRE group, there was a modest reduction in fat-free mass. However, I wouldn’t place too much emphasis on this secondary component, particularly because other research suggest the reverse. This problem is far from addressed, particularly in light of some of my other research concerns.
As a result of this discovery, many media sources have already concluded that time-based eating is ineffective and that we should all return to three meals each day.
But hold on a second. It isn’t so apparent.
Let’s look at why ERT is regarded as healthy. For starters, it’s a good method to cut calories on a regular basis. Second, it keeps insulin levels low for longer, allowing for more active fat burning.
On the first point, the present test failed. The TRE group and the control group both ate the same amount of calories. There was also a trend toward higher calorie consumption towards the conclusion of the trial.
One of the cardinal principles I apply to all patients who begin an ERT is that you don’t have to make up for missed calories. This is a crucial topic we address in the soon-to-be launched intermittent fasting coaching program. Instead, eat normally or add a bit extra protein to your diet and skip one meal. This is one of the simplest methods for calorie reduction.
This goal has not been met in this conflict. I can only presume that this is due to the participants’ lack of training in calorie-control techniques. The fact that this research used comparable calorie diets to test for ERRs eliminates one of the major potential advantages of ERRs.
This does not negate the fact that, when properly monitored, ERT may be an effective technique for safe and long-term calorie restriction.
What about the second point, though? Is this research a refutation of the notion that maintaining insulin levels low for extended periods of time has any benefits? Maybe.
It’s possible that sixteen hours won’t be enough to make the most of it. Would 18 hours, 20 hours, or even 24 hours suffice? What if you have your lunch around 5 p.m., when your body is more insulin-sensitive? These are intriguing questions to which we have yet to find solutions.
What’s more, we have no idea what the participants ate throughout their feeding time.
Dr. Pam Taub and Dr. Satchin Panda released the findings of a non-randomized research that showed the metabolic advantages of 14 hours of fasting independent of baseline diet, which led me down this path.
Despite my scientific beliefs, I always informed my customers that it all depended on what you eat. Why would we spend 16 hours reducing our insulin levels just to consume an eight-hour nutrient-poor, carbohydrate-rich dinner that raises our glucose and insulin levels even more?
That is something we would never do. It’s incomprehensible.
Is that what occurred in this case? We have no idea. This research did not include any information on food quality or macronutrient distribution. However, the cascade curve showed significant variance, with several individuals losing weight and others gaining. Why is there such a disparity? Is it possible that it has anything to do with their regular diet? Again, we have no idea.
Fasting does make some individuals hungry and want to eat, even if it is just for 16 hours, which leads to increased snacking, a higher overall calorie consumption, and lower quality food. This is something I’ve seen a lot in my work. Obviously, these individuals are not permitted to fast.
It’s definitely a different scenario for people who can fast, restrict overall calories, and yet consume healthy meals that don’t trigger insulin and glucose surges. A time-restricted diet would be most beneficial to these individuals.
The research, as is frequently the case, addresses one issue while leaving many others unsolved.
Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great. Dr. Weiss and his colleagues conducted a well-executed and well-planned research to address their concerns. I don’t hold them responsible for what they went through.
However, the findings must be interpreted with caution.
The correct understanding is that TRE does not function.
Rather, the conclusion is that 16 hours of ERT, starting at 8 p.m., without appropriate dietary management and calorie restriction, does not result in weight reduction or metabolic advantages in the majority of individuals.
Furthermore, there are numerous unanswered concerns about ERTs and their potential advantages.
We must be open to the possibility that ERT is just a means of calorie reduction with no additional possible advantages. However, this has yet to be proved.
I’ll continue to suggest ERT in combination with a low-carb diet to help people lose weight and improve their metabolic health. I’m looking forward to further study on this technique, but there’s no reason for me to stop using it in the meanwhile.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Dr. Bret Sher, FACC
Other things to consider
The correctness of the scientific evaluation of the keto diet has been questioned.
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Well-fed meat is healthy for you, the animals, and the environment, according to a new book.
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Intermittent fasting (IF) is a popular diet method that involves alternating periods of fasting with those of eating. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that IF is a good way of losing weight, but a new study published in the journal Cell Metabolism has found that it doesn’t work in humans.. Read more about why fasting doesn’t work for weight loss and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why intermittent fasting doesnt work?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It is an eating pattern that involves alternating periods of fasting and non-fasting days.
Does intermittent fasting not work for everyone?
Intermittent fasting is a diet that involves eating all the time, but not at the same times. It can be done by skipping breakfast and lunch, or by only eating every other day.
Does intermittent fasting lose effectiveness?
Intermittent fasting is a type of diet that involves periods of fasting and eating. It is not recommended for people with diabetes, heart disease, or other conditions that require strict dietary restriction.
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