Intermittent fasting has gained popularity recently. But what exactly is intermittent fasting, who can benefit from it, and how does it impact athletes? In this article, we’ll explore these questions and provide insights on how to make intermittent fasting work for you.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves abstaining from food for specific periods, which can vary from hours to days. The primary goal often revolves around achieving long-term weight loss. There are various approaches to intermittent fasting, such as skipping dinner, fasting every other day, or the well-known 16:8 method, where you eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 hours.
Health Benefits and Weight Loss:
According to Gilmore Health studies suggest that intermittent fasting can have lasting positive effects on health. Skipping dinner may lead to healthy weight loss and improved sleep quality, while also positively impacting insulin levels. Although most of these findings are derived from animal studies, human studies indicate that intermittent fasting is a valuable alternative to conventional fasting for weight loss, lean and fat mass, and glucose metabolism. However, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy and balanced diet during non-fasting periods to prevent any potential slowdown in weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting and Athletic Performance: For athletes, the choice of intermittent fasting method matters. If one opts for “no dinner” and continues to exercise in the late afternoon or early evening, recovery can be compromised due to a lack of carbohydrates and protein. To maximize the positive effect of intermittent fasting while training, it’s recommended to work out in the morning to provide the body with essential nutrients post-exercise. Strength athletes, in particular, benefit from proper protein intake for enhanced muscle protein synthesis.
Challenges of Prolonged Fasting: Extending fasting for several days can significantly reduce nutrient intake. To maintain energy levels and recovery capacity, it’s advisable to postpone exercise until non-fasting days. Exercising during prolonged fasting can lead to a negative energy balance, increasing the risk of illness or injury and compromising the quality of your workout.
Strategies for Athletes: Optimally, fasting should be scheduled during non-training periods to minimize its impact on performance and recovery. For those training during fasting, sessions should not be overly intense or lengthy. Coordination of training, nutrition, and recovery is essential to avoid long-term health risks.
Conclusion: Intermittent fasting may not be the ideal solution for athletes seeking performance improvements. However, it can be suitable for weight loss when applied with careful consideration of timing and coordination of training, nutrition, and recovery. For athletes with intensive training regimens, it’s advised to consult a sports nutritionist to determine the best approach for weight loss without compromising performance or meal skipping.
Johns Hopkins: Intermittent Fasting Could Help You Live Longer. Gilmore Health News
What is intermittent fasting? Does it have health benefits? Mayo Clinic
The benefits of intermittent fasting the right way. BBC