What’s Missing with Intermittent Fasting? Protein and Healthy Carbs to Maintain Muscle

The term intermittent fasting covers a lot of different types of diets.The most studied approach is not really fasting at all, but two consecutive days of  where calories are cut by 30 to 40 percent or the same calorie restriction on alternate days. The other approach that falls under this term is total fasting on alternate days.

In my opinion, none of these approaches are superior to a continuous lifestyle approach using protein-rich meal replacements along with colorful fruits and vegetables and a healthy active lifestyle. They are popular because they play into the widespread fear of food that many dieters have. They sometimes skip breakfast which is a very bad idea as it is the most important meal of the day. Research shows that a high protein breakfast with healthy carbohydrates can help control hunger while maintaining muscle mass or even building muscle protein when combined with high intensity interval training and resistance or weight training.

From a behavioral point of view, getting comfortable with eating foods and losing weight is an important skill to get. So aside from the potential loss of muscle protein, it is unwise to encourage avoidance of foods as a long-term strategy.


  1. Harvie, M.N.; Pegington, M.; Mattson, M.P.; Frystyk, J.; Dillon, B.; Evans, G.; Cuzick, J.; Jebb, S.A.; Martin, B.; Cutler, R.G.; et al. The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: A randomized trial in young overweight women. Int. J. Obes. 2011, 35, 714–727.
  2. Harvie, M.; Wright, C.; Pegington, M.; McMullan, D.; Mitchell, E.; Martin, B.; Cutler, R.G.; Evans, G.;Whiteside, S.; Maudsley, S.; et al. The effect of intermittent energy and carbohydrate restriction v. daily energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers in overweight women. Br. J. Nutr. 2013, 110, 1534–1547.
  3. Heilbronn, L.K.; Smith, S.R.; Martin, C.K.; Anton, S.D.; Ravussin, E. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: Effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2005, 81,69–73.
  4. Soeters, M.R.; Lammers, N.M.; Dubbelhuis, P.F.; Ackermans, M.; Jonkers-Schuitema, C.F.; Fliers, E.;Sauerwein, H.P.; Aerts, J.M.; Serlie, M.J. Intermittent fasting does not affect whole-body glucose, lipid,or protein metabolism. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2009, 90, 1244–1251.
  5. Catenacci, V.A.; Pan, Z.; Ostendorf, D.; Brannon, S.; Gozansky, W.S.; Mattson, M.P.; Martin, B.; MacLean, P.S.; Melanson, E.L.; Troy, D.W. A randomized pilot study comparing zero-calorie alternate-day fasting to daily caloric restriction in adults with obesity. Obesity 2016, 24, 1874–1883.
  6. Antoni, R.; Johnston, K.L.; Collins, A.L.; Robertson, M.D. Investigation into the acute effects of total and partial energy restriction on postprandial metabolism among overweight/obese participants. Br. J. Nutr. 2016, 115, 951–959.



Categories: Nutrition

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: