Fans of intermittent fasting say consuming fewers calories by skipping meals helps lose weight and leads to other health benefits. But what happens to your body when you add exercise to the mix? Matthew Lees and Eric Williamson, both of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, have studied the effects of intermittent fasting on muscle health in the general population and older adults. Lees, a postdoctoral researcher, and Williamson a PhD student and registered dietician, conducted the research with Associate Professor Daniel Moore.
“Finding ways to lose weight that are as simple as skipping a meal is very difficult because many people find it hard to manage their hunger while being in a caloric deficit,” Williamson says. “But, if they find that their hunger is well managed with intermittent fasting and they plan to exercise at the same time, then it can be an effective tool for losing fat.” Lees and Willamson spoke to writer Jelena Damjanovic about the benefits of complementing intermittent fasting with exercise.
What is intermittent fasting? Eric Williamson: Intermittent fasting means going without food for an intentional period of time. There’s no real strict definition of how long that time has to be, but for the most part, it’s at least 12 hours. Most people will practice intermittent fasting with the intention of losing weight. The thinking behind this is that intermittent fasting will keep your insulin levels lower and by lowering insulin, which is known as the fat-storing hormone, you will lose body fat.
Excerpted from U of T News