The benefits of intermittent fasting

The authors of the article argue that the IF technique could actually help with weight loss if one is careful about what one eats during the eating period.

The authors of the article argue that the IF technique could actually help with weight loss if one is careful about what one eats during the eating period.

Salis S, Shefa S, Sharma N, et al. Effects of intermittent fasting on weight loss in obese Asian Indian adults. J Assoc Physicians India 2022;70(9):62–66. DOI: 10.5005/japi-11001-0098

Interest in fad diets has probably never been more enduring and temporal than in the age of social media. While the interest in weight loss is constant, it’s rarely a devotion to a particular diet or a consistency in dieting long enough for it to work. It’s also important to be as scientific as possible when embarking on diets, to ensure that you’re doing yourself a favor and not a disservice. As always, diets come in different sizes and flavors, some stemming from quackery, while others are rooted in scientific calorie control paired with specific exercise. It is essential to focus on the right dimensions for yourself and to continue. In what is likely the first such data from India on the matter, the article “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Weight Loss in Asian Indian Adults with Obesity,” claims that the technique intermittent fasting (IF) may actually aid weight loss and have additional effects. health benefits if one pays attention to what one eats during the eating period of the day.

The IS technique

Sheryl’s article. S et al, is a collaboration between Mumbai-based nutritionists and the Chennai-based Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) and was recently published in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India. Intermittent fasting refers to a period of fasting for up to 16 hours per day, or 24-hour fasting on alternate days, or full 24-hour fasting twice a week on non-consecutive days. Thus, a fasting period between 12 and 20 hours can be called SI. Accordingly, for each fasting cycle, the remaining hours will be considered the feeding period. While studies elsewhere have shown substantial weight loss and fat loss with IF, this limited study showed that focusing on what is eaten during feeding time is just as important.

“Fasting is no stranger to our culture and is present in many religions,” says Sheryl Salis, lead author of the paper. “People in many communities observe fasts, from time to time, in various forms. But more recently, the trend of following fad diets to lose weight fast has caught up. IF is one such diet and is considered to be fanciful, doable.

However, she adds that there are many versions circulating, including variations in the number of hours of fasting, the number of meals eaten during the eating period, and what is eaten during that time. While it’s important to actively manage weight issues, given that worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, it’s also important to watch what people eat and get professional guidance while embarking on a serious diet, she explains. “There are people who hoard and binge on just one meal they eat in a day, and there are people who only wake up during feeding times. This can all be extreme. With this grew the desire to scientifically study a group of people who were on IF, to see if there is any impact on actual weight loss and other health parameters.

Detail the study

With expert guidance from the MDRF who also provided the study structure, a total of 32 adult individuals, male and female, overweight or obese, received the diet in January 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Participants followed 12 to 16 hours of fasting with a 12 to 8 hour eating period for three months.

Ms. Sheryl says the participants were followed monthly for three months. Due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, clinical anthropometric measurements were not possible after the intervention. Therefore, participants were asked to send photos of their weight and waist measurements on WhatsApp or by email, in addition to information on the duration and frequency of the fast and the data collected at baseline. Analysis of the data after the intervention, according to the article, showed a significant reduction in average weight, waist circumference, BMI (body mass index), calorie intake and increased of protein intake. Body fat % and visceral fat % showed a clinically relevant reduction.

Ranjani Harish, corresponding author of the study, and senior scientist and head of the Department of Translational Research, MDRF, said the big issue with weight loss measures is sustainability. Here, the fasting hours were slowly and gradually increased, in a way that trial participants were comfortable with. Advice was provided not only for diet, but also for sleep, stress management and exercise. Ms. Ranjani says: “We found in this small study that IC can be done in a sustainable way. Patients didn’t think a 14-hour fasting period was so difficult.” The plan they were given emphasized regulating what was eaten, having a light dinner early, increasing protein levels and watching calorie counts. “Most patients said they could easily manage the fast, and all participants showed positive results – weight loss and fat loss, when assessed,” she explains.

“We deliberately excluded pregnant people, nursing mothers or people with diabetes in this study. Their calorie intake and meal periodicity must be carefully calibrated. We also do not recommend IF for children,” adds Ms Sheryl .

Interestingly, post-intervention qualitative interviews with trial participants also reported a reduction in acidity, bloating, and the regularity of their monthly cycles. Ms. Ranjani goes on to add that the results of this limited but real study were encouraging enough to plan a proper randomized controlled trial among a larger group of participants with diverse needs, this time perhaps without the constraints of conducting a study for total containment.

THE ESSENTIAL

It’s important to be as scientific as possible when embarking on a diet. As always, diets come in all sizes and flavors, some stemming from quackery, while others are rooted in scientific calorie control.

The article by Sheryl Salis et al is a collaboration between Mumbai-based nutritionists and the Chennai-based Madras Diabetes Research Foundation. While studies have shown that intermittent fasting results in substantial weight loss and fat loss, this limited study showed that it’s just as important to focus on what’s eaten during mealtime.

Intermittent fasting refers to a period of fasting for up to 16 hours per day, or 24-hour fasting on alternate days, or full 24-hour fasting twice a week on non-consecutive days.

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