Whats better? Intermittent Fasting or Frequent Feeding?

Intermittent Fasting or Frequent Feeding?

You may or may not have heard a lot about intermittent fasting.  What is Intermittent Fasting?  Intermittent fasting is basically extending periods of fasting so that  periods without eating are increased in comparison the times of feeding.  The periods of fasting could be as little as 12 hours or as many 24hours depending on the Intermittent Fasting protocol you follow.

Intermittent fasting proponents have been growing and many challenge the widely recognized and accepted model of eating 5-6 smaller meals.  Some intermittent fasting protocols do not even require anything so extreme.  Some protocols call for 2 or 3 meals daily instead of 5.

The arguments most often cited for intermittent fasting include:

1.)  Fasting periods allow for increased insulin sensitivity which creates an environment more favorable to fat-loss.  We have greater insulin sensitivity first thing in the morning after and 8-10hours fast.  The intermittent fasting proponents suggest we should take it a step further and seek to increase the period of insulin sensitivity further by longer periods of fasting throughout the day.

2.) Fasting periods lead to less total calories consumed which leads to greater weight loss.  Regardless, of the number of meals eaten the total weight-loss you experience is still generally dependent on total calories consumes.  So eating less frequently could lead some people to eat less total calories which would lead to greater weight-loss.

3.) Fasting promotes greater levels of growth hormone in the body which enhances weight loss and muscle building processes.

4.) Fasting frees your body of other metabolic functions so that energy can be spent on cellular repair or so that damaged cells and fat stores can be used for energy.

In addition, the intermittent fasting proponents claim that eating more frequently makes you hungrier.  They also claim that the smaller amounts of insulin produced more often is a less favorable environment that larger insulin releases at less frequent periods for fat loss.

So what’s my take on intermittent fasting?

While there really is no scientific research I can find to suggest  eating 5-6 meals  is superior to eating 3-4 meals, there certainly is a ton of anecdotal evidence with body-builders who have relied on 5-6 meals or even 7-8 meals daily who have achieved the lowest levels of body-fat know to man- consistently- over and over again- while preparing for body building shows.  Body-builders have relied on smaller feedings more often model for as long as I can remember.  So there is nothing that argues more strongly for something than proven consistent results.

That’s not to say that intermittent fasting doesn’t work.  The frequent meal model is dependent on less total calories through-out the day to produce a decrease in weight.  If you eat 5 or 6 meals with no calorie deficit, you are not going to lose weight.  The same can be said for intermittent fasting.  If your total calories exceeds the amount needed to cause a deficit then you are not going to lose weight.

There are many argument in favor of frequent feeding including increased metabolism or thermic effect with each meal, better hunger control, tricking the body into less fat being stored.

The bottom line as I see it is finding what works best for you.  You could say I use both intermittent fasting to some extent and frequent feeding to some extent.  My last meal of the day might be 11pm or 12am.  I usually go to the gym in the morning and work-out on an empty stomach.  So there is often a 12 hour period without eating.   That’s intermittent fasting.  My first meal might not happen until 11am or 12pm.  From that point on, my eating resembles a frequent feeding model, eating every 3-4 hours with my largest meals of the day falling after 7pm.

So what works best?  The truth is everybody is different and what works for some may not work for all.  I personally feel the frequent eating model is probably the most practical, doable and desirable for the largest number of individual.  Additionally, the frequent feeding model has a very successful track record with a large number of individuals and professional body-builders.  Most people cannot nor do they desire to fast for long periods and when they do- it leads to compensatory reactions like over-eating and greater fat storage.

But only you can determine what’s best for you.  I’m open to new ideas.  I don’t pretend to know what’s best for everyone.  I  know what’s best for me.  I’d be happy to help you find out what’s best for you.