5 mistakes you’re making with intermittent fasting for weight loss, according to a researcher
Many people are doing intermittent fasting wrong, says a weight loss researcher.
Fasting mistakes like eating junk food can leave you feeling deprived and missing opportunities.
Studies show adding more fiber and protein, and less sugar to burn body fat faster.
Intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool to help you burn fat and lose weight while reducing hunger, but you could be doing it wrong, according to a weight loss researcher.
Getting the most out of fasting starts with paying attention to what you're eating, says Dr. Paul Asiro, professor of health at Skidmore College and author of The Protein Pace Diet.
His research devised a specific fasting routine that evidence suggests can help people burn fat faster than counting calories alone. The findings will be published in the journal Obesity in December 2022.
“We have data to show that it's not about the total number of calories we consume. Now it comes down to the quality and pattern of nutrient intake,” he told Insider.
By adding more protein and fiber, timing your meals correctly, and reducing your sugar intake, you can see better results and fewer fasting side effects, says Arciero.
Fasting Until You Have Healthy Eating Habits Can Backfire
According to Arciero, before you can even think about intermittent fasting, it's important to already follow some basic habits of healthy eating.
“If they're eating a poor diet, it's not going to serve them well,” he said.
Get into the habit of a protein rhythm — getting enough protein throughout the day and including a variety of protein sources — a few weeks before trying to fast, suggests Arciero.
Otherwise, any unhealthy habits you develop will cancel out the benefits of fasting, such as better blood sugar control, because you may return to eating junk food immediately after the fast is over.
Don't Eat Junk Food After Fasting
Arciero says the biggest mistake most people make when intermittent fasting is thinking they can eat anything as long as they stick to the fasting period.
This can lead to a cycle of deprivation and overeating According to Arciero, this can be counterproductive to health.
“It's a pathology of eating disorders. Why do we emphasize that it helps?” he said.
Instead, you should aim to get more fiber and protein in your snacks and meals, both of which help you feel full and supported
A healthy digestion. It's also important to reduce your sugar intake, especially added sugar, because too much can damage your metabolic health, which is counter to your goals while fasting, Arciero said.
Avoid skimping on protein
Arciero's research found that intermittent fasting works better if people eat a high-protein meal at least four times during the meal period.
Previous research has shown that protein can help you feel fuller after eating and may even help you burn more calories because it takes more energy to digest than other nutrients like carbohydrates or fat.
It is also an important nutrient for maintaining muscle, which is important for a healthy metabolism. Some fasting diets are associated with a higher risk of muscle loss, so extra protein may help.
Water-only fasting may be less effective
It is a misconception that you cannot eat anything during a fast. You can get the benefits of fasting while consuming fewer calories from coffee, tea, and drinks that contain electrolytes, says Arciero.
The fasting group in his study ate about 400 calories a day, divided into small portions of high-fiber and high-protein supplements every four hours. However, they only ate very specific foods like bone broth, low-glycemic protein crackers, and a handful of nuts and seeds—sneaking a handful of potato chips or biting into ice cream wouldn't count as a fast.
“We don't allow cannibalization,” Arciero said.
Enjoy bone broth and bulletproof coffee, or other low-carb options that can help you avoid blood sugar spikes to stay fast, say other fasting advocates.
fasting not because of hunger
A surprising result of Arciero's study was that those who had the best results while fasting were also less hungry — an initial surprise, but a consistent finding in his other studies.
The combination of protein, fiber and time in the study is “very unique,” he said, and more research could help us better understand how it supports the benefits of fasting.
“The idea that the only way to reduce the hunger signal in our brain is to flood it with energy is far from the scientific truth,” he said.
In addition to debunking the idea that you have to fast yourself, Arciero points out that the benefits of fasting go far beyond fat burning and can help with longevity, disease risk, and overall health.
“What we're really looking at is the health and performance benefits,” Arciero said. “The side effect, as we say, is weight loss. In our work, it's just icing on the cake.”
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