BIG Nutrition: Fasting as a Weight Loss Strategy


BIG Nutrition: Fasting as a Weight Loss Strategy

As the holidays approach, there are a dizzying number of online stories and features about indulgent foods and cocktails juxtaposed with the latest fitness and weight loss approaches, including fasting. Will this approach offer hope and reduce weight after all of the holiday parties are over?

Fasting is a topic of current interest and research. Headlines aside, the research is still new and only preliminary findings are available. One place to begin is to define what is meant by different types of fasting. Definitions proposed in a recent research article are:

  • Intermittent fasting—restriction of intake to 60-100% of energy intake 2-3 days per week; also includes fasting alternating days per week.
  • Time restricted fasting—limiting eating to only 8-10 hours per day.
  • Intermittent energy restriction (IER)—either intermittent fasting or time restricted fasting.
  • Continuous energy restriction (CER)—limiting energy intake daily.

Since there are many variations being tested for fasting and energy restriction, having some way to define them is important so that they can be studied for their impact. In the article defining these concepts, the researchers analyzed 11 studies and here are some considerations and conclusions:

  • Only studies that lasted 8 weeks or longer were analyzed.
  • Most of the studies included 50-100 participants, more women than men, and most individuals were inactive or engaged in light physical activity.
  • Because studies were small, there was not sufficient evidence to examine metabolic parameters, such as, insulin resistance.
  • The studies looking at time restricted fasting only examined eating early or mid-day and not late day eating because there was no research on late day eating.
  • Bottom line: “IER paradigms produce equivalent weight loss when compared to CER, with 9 out of 11 studies reviewed showing no differences between groups in weight or body fat loss.”

Competing messages about decadent foods along with weight loss recommendations can induce excitement and dread all at the same time. No one food or cocktail will save or doom an overall eating pattern, yet, keeping up with all of the latest food and nutrition research can be hard. If you are looking for ways to meet your life and athletic goals though eating, I’m here to help.        

Happy and healthful eating,

Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN

If you are considering a new approach to eating in 2020, contact me [email protected]