Every now and then as I’m scrolling the giant bullshit engine called teh internetz I’ll see an article spouting something like: “INTERMITTENT FASTING REDUCES VISCERAL FAT” or “INTERMITTENT FASTING IS THE BEST DIET FOR ALL EARTHLY INHABITANTS.”
And then everyone loses their shit and goes all Let’s Fast The Living Crap Of Ourselves.
But before you do the same, you want to read this article because it shows you what’s better for fat loss—intermittent fasting or continuous energy restriction?
Intermittent Fasting vs. Continuous Energy Restriction: What Does The Science Shmience Say?
In 2018, Harris L, et al.2 published a systematic review and meta-analysis (meta-analysis & systematic reviews are trustworthy, unbiased ways to determine conclusions because they review all related scientific papers whereas a single study may have biased conditions):
Researchers found that there is no significant difference in weight loss between IF and CER:
Seimon RV, et al. conducted a similar meta-analysis in 2015:3
They concluded that:
Okay, so your friend Jessica, the one who swears by IF, might be, juuust might be, full of shit saying IF is the best diet (read this article about the best diet for fat loss).
Anyway, let’s continue so that you would have something to respond to Jessica once she sees you eating a cookie at work. At 11 am! (she will get an aneurysm seeing you with that cookie during her fasting window.)
Here’s another 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis4 that will make Jessica want to kidney punch you—IF is no better than CER:
And finally, in 2018 Cioffi I, et al. published a systematic review and meta-analysis5 of eleven studies:
The magic of intermittent fasting left unfounded in this study too:
So there you go, intermittent fasting perfection/superiority is a myth.
Send dogs. Or cats. Or those 3 fucking dragons from GOT who killed all those poor villagers. I don’t care. Intermittent fasting superiority just doesn’t exist.
Now you can whine and cry that your favorite diet didn’t hold up against the scientific evidence or… you can, as Bob Marley sings, beee happyyy (like I am) that we have another legit diet that represents a valid alternative to continuous energy restriction for weight loss.
(Alternatively, you can scream out loud “lalalalala can’t hear you” and keep believing Jessica.)
You see, I’m happy because in a world full of dumbass crash diets of extreme unsustainability (think keto, paleo, Atkins, carnivore, etc.), it’s refreshing to have another diet that doesn’t ask you to eliminate any food or food group from your diet.
This is great because, as I said in my book, your diet should help you eat fewer calories, fewer junk foods, and more whole foods but in a way that fits your lifestyle and food preferences (foods you love) as much as possible.
And if intermittent fasting falls in line with your lifestyle, I’m all for it.
- There is no evidence suggesting that intermittent fasting produces superior weight loss when compared to continuous energy restriction.
- Intermittent fasting can work for busy people pressured by time or those who prefer fewer but larger meals.
- Intermittent fasting should be avoided by people with disordered eating, binge eating, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
- You do you—if you enjoy intermittent fasting, you can be consistent with it, it doesn’t take over your social life, it improves your relationship with food, and it allows you to make progress, you’re good. Because in the end, the most important part of any diet is to have a fucking life.