Mini-Fasting for Fat Loss
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a fascinating topic, in my opinion. Most people seem to have an opinion on it, which vary from IF being a fantastic fat loss strategy to the worst possible thing you could do. Well, there is a new study that just came out which examined the impact of mini-fasting, which is perhaps a nice middle ground. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Researcher Victoria Pons conducted a 6-week study on a type of intermittent fasting diet, referred to as mini-fasting, and it appears to be highly favorable in all aspects. This strategy appears to change body composition with minimal muscle loss AND help to increase physical performance parameters.
The study subjects consisted of 12 trained athletes between 18 and 50. They were put on a diet where they restricted their calories by approximately 33%, every other day, for 3 days per week. For example, they would eat normally on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, while dieting on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
She controlled both phases of the diet (normal days and calorie restricted days) by designing the eating plan to consist of the same proportions of carbs, proteins, and fats. On average, the participants ate approximately 2,400 calories per day on the “normal” days and approximately 1,500 calories per day on the “mini-fast” days.
In addition, all of the participants did a maximal exercise stress test before and after, and had blood samples taken before the diet and 3-minutes post-exercise.
The subjects lost an average of 15.1% body fat, triglycerides and cholesterol dropped by 14.1% and 4.3%, respectively, and performance factors such as heart rate, lactate levels, and fatigue perception dropped. All great results! The only negative aspect was that the subjects also lost some lean mass – approximately 3%. One key post-study conclusion from the researchers was that the participants should have eaten more protein. The diet was designed for them to eat 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. The researchers believe that the loss in lean tissue could have been reduced or completely offset had the participants eaten protein in the range of 1 gram per pound of body weight.
Another issue with this diet that the researchers noted was a reduction in total nutrients by up to 60%, which seems logical, because when you restrict overall food, one will take in less overall nutrients. Of course, this is an easy “fix” by taking strategic supplements and/or focusing on highly nutrient-dense foods.
So, is this a legitimate fat loss strategy? I believe it is, although it’s not for everyone. The overall results were quite impressive and the implementation seems pretty easy to me. All you need to do is skip 1 meal, 3 days per week. Skipping breakfast 3 days per week…..easy for most.
Important points to focus on if you want to try out this diet would be to make sure you get enough protein and eat a highly nutrient-dense diet to cover your overall nutrient status (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, etc…). So, you want to focus on lean proteins, copious amounts of vegetable, a little fruit, a little whole grain and ample healthy fats.
Pons, Victoria, et al. “Calorie restriction regime enhances physical performance of trained athletes,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9 March, 2018.
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