the opinion of researchers on its effects on health and weight

You’ve probably heard or read somewhere that intermittent fasting is the secret to CAPS for losing weight. Also, according to its followers, this popular nutrition program brings many benefits to our overall health. But what is the reality? Can you lose weight, improve your health, or even increase your longevity on an empty stomach? What does science say?

Intermittent fasting according to science

“While there is credible scientific evidence of the benefits of intermittent fasting, it is neither a quick fix nor a guaranteed one-size-fits-all solution.” This is the opinion of the researcher and professor of circadian biology at the Salk Institute in California, Satchin Panda. He has spent his career studying complex biochemical processes in the human body, and his research, in mice and humans, suggests that intermittent food deprivation could benefit human health in several ways, including weight loss.

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Before we dive into dark science, it is worth mentioning that there is more than one way to practice the food program in question. For example, there is the 5: 2 diet, which consists of fasting or consuming very few calories (between 500 and 600) for two non-consecutive days of the week and eating the others normally. However, probably the most popular method is the so-called 16/8 intermittent fasting. He advises you to eat all your meals within 8 hours and refrain from eating for the next 16 hours.

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All intermittent fasting methods are based essentially on the same idea: when you reduce your calorie intake, your body uses stored fat for energy. But what sets our eating schedule apart from the caloric restriction for days, weeks, and months advocated by conventional diets is the fact that limiting calories consumed over limited periods of time is easier for most people. In addition, the specific type of intermittent fasting that Panda has studied may have additional positive effects.

What is a typical program like?

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Panda focused on an intermittent fasting method known as time-restricted eating. Its format is similar to that known as 16/8, but the researcher extends the window from 8 to 12 hours. Suppose the day usually starts with breakfast and a first cup of coffee at 7am. Let’s also say you end up relaxing with a glass of wine and a plate of cheese around 11pm. With limited time meals, you must register for breakfast at 8 am, including coffee, and finish dinner at 6 pm. That way, you eat all your meals in 10 hours and drop your calories from desserts, snacks, and alcohol. But that’s not the whole story.

An experiment with laboratory mice

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According to science, eating with limited time seems to do more for the body than just reducing your calorie intake. The test? The results of a 2012 study (link below) that Panda and colleagues conducted with genetically identical mice. They were fed the same food, a laboratory mouse version of the standard American diet, high in fat and plain sugar and low in protein.

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Although both groups received exactly the same type and amount of food, one group had access to food for 24 hours and the other group only had access for 8 hours. Because mice are nocturnal, they usually sleep during the day and eat at night. But the group, which had access to food 24 hours a day, began to eat it during the day as well, while still sleeping as usual.

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After 18 weeks, mice that could eat at all hours showed signs of insulin resistance and also had liver damage. But mice eating in an 8-hour window were not affected by these conditions. They also weighed 28% less than mice with access to food 24 hours a day, even though both groups of mice ate the same number of calories a day!

Innovative test results

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This was a historic moment for scientists, as until then researchers believed that the total number of calories, rather than when consumed, was what determined weight loss or gain. The team repeated the experiment with three additional sets of mice and obtained the same results. Scientists raised the window to eat at 3 p.m., and found that the shorter it was, the less weight the mice gained. Of course, the human body is more complex than that of a mouse, but these experiments were the first indication of the importance of time when it comes to how our body uses food.

Intermittent fasting and circadian rhythm

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In recent years, scientists have discovered that many processes in the human body are related to our circadian rhythm. For example, morning sunlight is good for our mood and sleep and being exposed to blue light from screens after 8pm via our cell phones, computers, and so on. it can disrupt our night’s sleep. Similarly, eating at the right time can nourish us, even heal us, while eating healthy at the wrong time can be junk food. Instead of being used as fuel, it is stored as fat, which only makes sense once you know the basics of how human metabolism works.

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