Last week, I excerpted part of the forthcoming women’s book (I swear, I’m getting there) about meal frequency and meal patterning and I want to go ahead and put up the second half of that chapter. This is really about more than just meal frequency and I go off on a bit of a tangent about weekly dieting schedules as well. So be it.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) Variations
At the most extreme of the above uneven distribution patterns is a relatively new approach called Intermittent Fasting or IF which basically refers to going longer without eating anything prior to breaking the fast. Once again, this doesn’t slow metabolism or cause starvation mode and one of the earliest studies that gave the day’s calories in a single meal actually showed a slight fat loss. There is a emerging evidence that this type of approach, or the use of occasionally longer fasting periods may have a number of health benefits as the light stress that this causes stimulates the body to improve various aspects of health (15). IF actually spans a number of different interpretations and I’ll look at them below.
Related to the idea of IF’ing, which typically refers to a single day, there is a related idea called Alternate Day Fasting (ADF). This described a situation alternating an entire day of fasting (strictly speaking this is usually 25% of maintenance calories but it’s still called fasting) with the in-between days at maintenance or above. Generally folks end up eating about 10% more than normal but the overall effect is still a lowered weekly caloric intake.
As I mentioned in a previous chapter, the body doesn’t really respond that quickly to lowered calories and alternating in this fashion might represent a superior away to generate a large weekly deficit (for fat loss) while avoiding some of the hormonal problems. And it might very well help the normally cycling woman to avoid the problems inherent to extended periods of low energy availability on menstrual cycle and hormonal function; this has not yet been studied but I don’t see why it wouldn’t have that effect.