In my quest for answers, I have to dive deeper into science which is fascinating and challenging both. Fascinating because the more I read, the more I am intrigued by the simplicity of our machinery. Challenging because we can draw all kind of theories or conclusions from same scientific evidence. Context matters but not many seem to care about that.
Therefore, my 2nd step always is, to look for evidence in the society and not just researches. I study my own case studies again that are conducted in live environments besides studying people around me. I would often get involved in n=1 experiments myself to see through the outcomes. Unbiased.
Here are my thoughts on another hot topic these days. I would love to learn any new science if I had left out on and open to criticism should you have anything substantial against my claims.
1) In a recent research, ‘NO’ weight loss diff was found btw the intermittent fasting group and normal group (calories equated).
2) People who ‘fast’ regularly in religious pretext never gets any leaner. Their weight tends to stay same even when they are fasting 3 days a week or even for 9 days in Navaratra.
3) If we look at ‘ramadan’, you will see people squeezing because its for 30 days but then come back to their old shape in the following month or two. In fact, most I saw were biting into their protein stores making their musculature skeletal like towards the end of fasting.
4) Not to mention, we would often come across people who start skipping a meal but that doesn’t have any bearing on their weight.
Intermittent fasting – is a great tool but not to lose weight in my opinion (and as proved by researches now) keeping everything same. Its a great tool to rest our metabolic machinery which may lead to some kind of autophagy by default. Its natural that it will happen. But to lose weight we must understand the energy systems, fat oxidation, our body’s burn etc. more deeper than just skipping a meal.
Analogy – if we have back pain and immerse our spine in water and exercise, we get good relief in our back. Why? Because water takes away the gravitational pull/pressure from back and it behaves like a suspended skeletal. Easy to mend.
Now imagine when we keep our gut free, our mind doesn’t get exposed to this part at all. There is no need for any communication. Its like sleep phase for gut microbiome. Does it help mind get rested? Logically it should be because managing a life in human can’t be easy. And our gut biome (& musculoskeletal) plays a very important role in that because of its direct connect with brain via vagus nerve. Autophagy is still at premature stages in terms of researches. We would learn more on the subject in future for sure.
Negatives if done regularly – my take:
It is impossible to eat the same amount of calories in a healthy way, by cutting down one big meal like breakfast, from the rest 2/3 meals. So essentially we start eating less. Do not forget that we also have a cap on how much we can digest per meal. You can’t make up for two meals in one meal and feel healthy!
Understand this – the problem with most (non obese but fat) people is not calories after they plateau. You ask anybody around you who is above 40. You won’t find them over eating by any stretch. Yet, they carry their bellies well tucked in 🙂
Lets look at an example: you are eating 1800 calories/day which is ideal as per your structure & appetite.
So does cutting down further help? Bringing it down to 1600 is a good idea?
No. I don’t think so. Therefore, intermittent fasting is great but one shouldn’t make it a lifestyle. I also train in fasted mode but I always come back to having breakfast before my training. It has never ever effected my weight. Its also good if the arrangement works for you but remember, you are healthier when we are eating proper meals vis-a-vis skipping meals.
“People would argue that people used to eat two times in earlier times and that was the reason of their health. Yes. True. But they also lived a more laborious life style and since there was no junk involved, and processing of food was minimal; they were getting optimal nutrition in their two meals. Their day was much shorter as they would sleep early. You can do the same today if you like it. But then no munching! No sugar-y tea! No snack! Lot of people can manage all this fine which is brilliant and it suits them. But most of us can’t manage this and inadvertently, we would end up eating calories in some form or the other.
Bottom line – skipping meal only works when you are not munching. Only having stipulated 2/3 meals that you are suppose to have. In most cases this doesn’t happen.
Interesting FACT: Its very difficult to exceed 300 calories per Indian meal unless you are eating fried stuff or extra oily. Let us say we can’t for most population. And after an age one can not have an extra chapati in the night just because we had skipped breakfast. Therefore, there is no way that one can get those healthy calories which can’t come from munching/tea etc. from remaining meals. Now if you realistically look at your calorie intake from pure food….you will be surprised how little you are getting from the real source. And even then we manage to overload us with calories (bad/junk) which then makes up a large portion of our daily intake.
So intermittent fasting is brilliant but just make sure you dont get short on nutrition which is already on the edge. Cutting out a meal may not be our best bet.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) –the average food our machinery digest. Say it is set at 2000 cals.
Then we drop breakfast and no matter what we do, we bring it down to 1800 cals. On one side it looks lucrative for weight loss but on the other, if we do this regularly, our BMR gets set at 1800 cals because our body always tries to make up for the deficiency.
Then what happens?
Our body doesn’t burn any extra fat because the damn mileage has come down. We have reduced the efficiency of our machinery. It is doing and behaving the same way at 1800 as it used to at 2000.
End result – we don’t lose weight. Plus we have reduced the capacity of our machinery which will have an impact on our energy. There is a reason why fit people eat more!
Same example but lets tweak it – this time you train in fasted state. This leaves your body with no choice but to burn more. BMR doesn’t come into play here because you are forcing your body to burn more. And then feed your body with nutrition even if it is only 14 hours instead of 16 hours.
Would you lose weight? Yes. It has worked in many I have worked with.
Analogy – a car with more horse power always consume more fuel!
So we have a choice…whether to keep our machinery with more fuel average or to make it more powerful for which we would have to consume more fuel.
Fasting is excellent if you like it but I wouldn’t make it my lifestyle. Unless you equate for nutrition, it wont necessarily be an healthy option in Indian context. Exercising in fasting mode is way more effective than just fasting alone.