Intermittent Fasting vs Calorie Restriction
Intermittent fasting is popular because it doesn’t technically restrict what you eat. Instead, it focuses on when you eat, limiting your calories to a certain window. This fasting window varies on the amount of time - 12 is a popular entry point, while the serious fasters can go up to days without food.
On calorie-restrictive diets, you eat throughout the day, but you only focus on a certain number of calories. Unlike keto, these are spread throughout all the nutritional categories. You’re not limited to the types of foods you eat, just the amount. It offers more flexibility than some other popular diets.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is popular because it’s much more than a weight loss program. In addition to helping you drop weight, you will also help control your blood sugar, improve your gut health, reduce disease risk, and so much more. Your body will regenerate, helping promote cellular turnover to help you look and feel better. You’ll start to feel less hungry and crave less sugar - so if you have a sweet tooth, this plan is for you! Intermittent fasting can even help you sleep better and live longer! Because of this, intermittent fasting is more than a weight loss program. It’s a lifestyle.
Benefits of Calorie Restriction
Calorie restriction doesn’t put limits on the type of foods you can eat or when you can eat them. Instead, it focuses on the amount of food you can eat. Once you’ve hit your limit for the day, you’re done, so it’s important to be strategic. Most studies on calorie restriction have been done on animals, but early results suggest that it improves your metabolism, improves your life span, and helps prevent disease, including heart disease and diabetes. Calorie restriction is much more than a diet, and when you change your eating habits, you can truly change your life.
What are the Differences?
Let’s explore the key differences between intermittent fasting and calorie restriction.
Intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat. You can choose different fasting periods based on the results you want to achieve. Calorie restriction focuses on the number of calories you eat - not what or when. On both of these, you can theoretically eat what you want, though it will defeat the purpose. You still want to be strategic with your meal choices, focusing on protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Unfortunately, studies have found there’s no measurable difference in weight loss between the two. For subjects who were obese, they lost similar amounts of weight and body fat.
Studies show that intermittent fasting is better at providing overall health benefits by improving cellular resistance to disease. Additionally, it helps to change your metabolic rhythm, improving your sleeping pattern based on when your body is burning calories. The same studies suggest that calorie reduction could be more effective at helping pre-diabetic and insulin-resistant patients improve their insulin levels without medical intervention.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t make your muscles shrink, and in many cases, it helps them grow because you are jam-packing your diet with protein. Calorie restriction will have the opposite effect in most cases. Protein is typically high in calories, so you may avoid it while on calorie restriction diets. Instead, as your body is working on burning fat, it may also turn to your muscles while on calorie restriction, breaking them down to power base activities.
How to Choose?
What are you hoping to achieve by dieting? If weight loss is your goal, both are effective. If you are looking to improve your overall health and wellbeing, then you may want to consider intermittent fasting. For those who are looking to treat diabetes, then calorie restriction may help.