(Natural News) Turns out, you can live without food – to some extent. This was the case presented by researchers in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, where they stated that intermittent fasting (they called it SER, short for intermittent severe energy reduction) could be a useful way to reduce energy intake; thereby, controlling an individual’s body weight. The team came to this discovery after studying the effects of a 24-hour SER in a person’s appetite, metabolism, and energy intake.
The concept of SER – or intermittent fasting, for that matter – isn’t a new or novel idea: People have done it for health, spiritual, or even cosmetic reasons since the beginning of time, and historical figures from Hippocrates to Benjamin Franklin were proponents of it.
However, a lot has changed in modern times: For instance, how processed food, added sugars, and trans fats are now ubiquitous – leading to an uptick in obesity cases around the world.
This rise carries disastrous consequences. Obesity not only raises the likelihood of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD), it also represents a significant economic burden. Thus, researchers are now looking for ways to mitigate the ever-increasing rates of obesity.
For this study, researchers from the School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Science at Loughborough University in the U.K. looked at how weight-loss strategies can be successfully used for the long term. For the most part, traditional calorie-restricting diets have some degree of success. However, sticking to it is a different story: Most people claim persistent hunger as one of their challenges in adhering to weight-loss plans. Studying the effects of a 24-hour SER, according to researchers, can shed light on how the body regulates appetite and energy intake, which can help with long-term weight management regimens.
Eighteen men and women participated in the study. On the first day, they were randomly assigned to either have a standardized diet, which had 100 percent of the daily energy requirement, or an energy-restricted diet, with only 25 percent of the required intake. The second day had participants eat a standardized breakfast and an ad libitum lunch, with researchers studying their appetite regulation and resting metabolism all throughout. Finally, their ad libitum energy intake was measured on the third day at breakfast and by weighed food records.
Based on the results, the participants displayed increased subjective appetite and energy intake during SER; however, appetite hormones did not respond in a manner indicating extreme hunger. “Therefore, an acute period of SER may assist with energy-balance management in lean men and women,” the researchers concluded. “Future studies should aim to examine the chronic effects of intermittent SER on appetite regulation.”
Fast facts about intermittent fasting
Despite popular belief, intermittent fasting isn’t a “diet,” since there isn’t a list of food items that you can or cannot eat. Rather, it’s an eating pattern where a person cycles between periods of eating and fasting.
The most common forms of intermittent fasting usually involve a 16- or a 24-hour fast twice a week. Some popular methods include:
- The 16/8 method, or the Leangains protocol. This method requires you to skip breakfast and have an eating period of no more and no less than eight hours (e.g., 12-8 p.m.).
- Eat-Stop-Eat. This is a 24-hour fast which starts from the mealtime you skipped (e.g., dinner) to that mealtime the next day.
- The 5:2 diet. People who follow this protocol choose two non-consecutive days of the week and restrict calorie consumption during those times. They eat normally for the rest of the week.
While everyone may be eager to jump on the bandwagon and try out intermittent fasting, it may not be for everyone. People who are underweight or have previous eating disorders are discouraged from doing so. In particular, if you have a medical condition such as diabetes or those who take medications are advised to consult with their healthcare provider before going on a fast.