(Natural News) Weight loss might be more about meal patterns than food choices, a recent study revealed. Published in the journal Obesity, it showed that meal timing strategies like intermittent fasting can help suppress appetite and enhance the body’s ability to burn fat.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a popular fitness trend around the world. Many health enthusiasts use it to lose extra pounds or to maintain a certain weight, but it also helps improve overall health and increase life expectancy.
As the name suggests, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. It is technically not a diet in the conventional sense of the word since it neither recommends nor discourages the consumption of certain types of food like most weight loss programs do. Instead, it outlines specific meal patterns for an individual to follow.
Unlike diet plans that restrict an individual’s intake of carbohydrates, fat and sugar, intermittent fasting simply “resets” the body’s metabolism, which gives cells ample time to recover. This is known to lead to certain documented benefits, such as a lowered risk of metabolic conditions, improved heart health and better bone development, all of which are linked to weight loss. (Related: Boost your metabolism and longevity with fasting.)
There are several ways to do intermittent fasting. Here are the three most common methods:
- The 16/8 method – This method is also known as the Leangains protocol. An individual who follows this method restricts the day’s meals to an eight-hour window and fasts for the rest of the day. It is entirely up to the individual to decide how to divide the hours of the day, as long as he or she follows the pattern.
- Eat-Stop-Eat – This is considered a more extreme method since it involves two 24-hour fasts each week. For example, an individual who follows the eat-stop-eat pattern won’t eat dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet – With this method, an individual can only consume 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week. He or she may eat as usual on the other five days.
Most people go by the 16/8 method since it is the simplest and easiest to follow. Intermittent fasting also allows for the consumption of water and zero-calorie beverages during periods of fasting.
Intermittent fasting helps lower appetite
A team of researchers from Louisiana State University‘s Pennington Biomedical Research Center found evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting helped reduce appetite and improved fat metabolism.
Eric Ravussin, one of the authors of the study, said that the body’s circadian rhythm – the biological clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle – can be utilized to reduce appetite and improve metabolic health. In fact, several studies have shown that meal patterns in sync with circadian rhythms appeared to reduce body weight and boost metabolism. However, it is not entirely clear which mechanisms are behind the weight loss benefits.
To understand these mechanisms, the researchers studied eleven overweight participants aged 20 to 45 years old who practiced two meal timing strategies at random for four days: a control schedule where participants ate three meals over 12 hours; and an early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) schedule where participants ate the same meals over a six-hour period only.
On the fourth day, the researchers measured markers of weight loss, like the number of calories, fat, carbohydrates and proteins burned. Besides appetite levels, the researchers also measured the participants’ hunger hormones based on blood and urine samples.
Upon analysis, the researchers found that eTRF did not significantly affect how participants burned calories. However, it did reduce hunger hormones and reduced the participants’ appetite. eTRF also enhanced the body’s ability to burn fat over a 24-hour period.
They concluded that eating the last meal of the day in the afternoon triggers the body to switch from carbohydrates to fats for its energy source, which leads to weight loss.
For more stories on weight-loss diets and weight management techniques, visit Slender.news.