The new year is settling in, which means most people are heading to pack the gym as they take on their New Year’s resolution of getting fit and practicing regular exercise. With all the new fads and methods popping up year after year about how to get trim and toned, it can be hard to determine what is best for you and your lifestyle, let alone which of these fads and methods actually work.
One of the most popular methods out there today is intermittent fasting, and today we’re going to dive into the actual research study conducted on this method to test its effectiveness, practicality, and overall results.
What Did the Research Study Attempt to Prove?
Intermittent fasting is the method of fasting for a certain period of time throughout the day. Most people who practice intermittent fasting will usually fast for an 8-10 hour window, meaning they won’t eat anything at all during this period of time. The idea behind this method is to help those who practice trim down and keep their metabolism in check.
The New England Journal of Medicine recently conducted a study on this method to test the overall effects of health on humans and animals. The study was conducted to test things like physical performance and recovery as well as general health indicators. The study was also testing how intermittent fasting effects the aging process, whether it slows the process down or even reverses the aging process. The study also wanted to see how intermittent fasting would aid in preventing and fighting disease.
How Was the Research Study Conducted?
The research study was conducted by testing the traditional method of fasting on animals and then on human. First, the study researched the effects intermittent fasting had on standard lab mice. Much of the study couldn’t be conducted on many other types of animals, so they studied the effects of common animals in the wild, specifically animals that had access to limited food supplies.
No specific in lab research was performed on any human participants, but multiple strands of research was gathered from tests and observations of fasting methods done by humans of different ages, mostly middle aged and classified as overweight. The researchers then compared their findings of the effects of common fasting methods and cross analyzed those findings with that of other uncommon methods of fasting.
What Were the Conclusions of the Findings?
The study found the effects of intermittent fasting to be overtly positive on animal and human study subjects. The data gathered on animals showed a significant boost in overall health over the period of the animal’s natural lifespan. The animals were healthy, rarely became infected with disease, and showed a regular aging process and nothing negatively out of the ordinary.
Human findings were more limited in terms of what was able to be studied. The research gathered was only over the span of a few months as most of the human trials studied were just for a short period of time. There have been no significant studies showing the effects of intermittent fasting over the span of a human’s lifetime as no study that long has ever been conducted. However, the overall effects of fasting on humans was deemed healthy as well as safer and more reliable than pharmaceutical or surgical methods.
What Are Some Practical Recommendations for Fitness Trainees Based on These Findings?
While the effects studied showed overwhelmingly positive results, the only key factor that has yet to be determined is the longevity of intermittent fasting. As most human studies were to be conducted that span longer than a few months, it can be hard to determine the feasibility of implementing this method.
A practical step for fitness trainees would be to just approach it slow and do your research. Since a standard amount of three meals a day is heavily ingrained into our lifestyles, making a sudden switch could slightly throw the body off, so it’s better to slowly ease into this method.
That wraps up the findings on intermittent fasting. The overall results say that intermittent fasting has amazing health benefits as well as boosting performance. If you’re still on the fence about trying this method, remember to ease into it and that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
Tim is the founder of FitAtMidlife.com – an avid gym rat for 30+ years, he’s a reviewer of many, many shoes – and founder of the Speed Bag Gathering – the world’s only gathering of speed bag punching enthusiasts. See more gym reviews at Tim’s YouTube channel.