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Eating protein with intermittent fasting is better for weight loss

Recent research reveals that intermittent fasting combined with protein pacing can significantly improve gut health, metabolic responses, and assist in effective weight management.

This dietary strategy, involving timed fasting periods and evenly distributed protein intake throughout the day, has shown more substantial health benefits compared to traditional calorie restriction alone.

Intermittent fasting and protein pacing

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. Instead of focusing on what foods to eat, it emphasizes when you should eat.

Common methods include the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window, and the 5:2 method, where you eat normally for five days and reduce calorie intake significantly on two non-consecutive days. This aims to improve health, aid weight loss, and enhance metabolic functions.

On the other hand, protein pacing is a dietary strategy that involves consuming protein at regular intervals throughout the day to optimize muscle health, metabolism, and overall well-being.

Instead of eating most of your protein in one or two meals, you spread your protein intake evenly across all meals and snacks.

This method helps maintain steady amino acid levels in the body, supporting muscle repair, growth, and metabolic efficiency.

Protein pacing often involves consuming high-quality protein sources like lean meats, dairy, eggs, legumes, and protein supplements.

Dietary approaches and gut microbiome

A study conducted with a diverse group of participants over eight weeks delved into the effects of two distinct low-calorie dietary approaches.

The first method adhered to a heart-healthy, continuous calorie-restricted diet based on USDA guidelines while the second incorporated intermittent fasting with protein pacing.

Participants who followed the latter approach not only lost more weight but also experienced a decrease in gastrointestinal symptoms and an increase in the diversity of their gut microbiota.

The gut microbiome comprises a vast array of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes, playing a critical role in digestion, vitamin production, and immune system function.

It significantly influences metabolism, affecting body weight, fat storage, and insulin sensitivity.

The study highlighted that intermittent fasting increased beneficial gut microbes linked to a leaner body type and better overall health.

Gut health and metabolism

The research team observed notable improvements in the gut health of those on the intermittent fasting regimen, with a particular increase in beneficial bacteria from the Christensenellaceae family.

These microbes are known for enhancing fat oxidation and metabolic health.

In contrast, the calorie-restricted group showed increases in metabolites related to longevity but less pronounced benefits in weight management and metabolic health.

Fat loss with intermittent protein fasting

Remarkably, participants following the intermittent fasting combined with protein pacing approach achieved greater reductions in body fat, including significant losses in belly and deep abdominal fat, while also increasing their lean body mass.

This regimen resulted in an average weight loss of 8.81% of initial body weight, outperforming the calorie-restricted group, which lost an average of 5.4%.

Microbial power of intermittent protein fasting

The study’s lead author, Alex Mohr, emphasized the critical role of the gut microbiome in responding to dietary changes.

Despite its limited duration and sample size, the study’s comprehensive analysis included gut microbiome profiling, cytokine levels, short-chain fatty acids, and blood metabolites, offering a nuanced understanding of the interplay between diet, metabolism, and microbial communities.

Mohr, affiliated with the Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes, along with other contributors from the center and several departments at ASU, provided deep insights into the microbial changes and their implications for health.

Their findings suggest that intermittent fasting and protein pacing could be key strategies in managing obesity and metabolic diseases.

Metabolic disorders

As Karen Sweazea, another principal investigator, noted, a healthy gut microbiome is crucial for overall well-being, particularly in obesity and metabolic disease management.

The study, funded by Isagenix, indicates that modifying the gut bacteria through specific dietary strategies can influence fat storage, glucose balance, and hunger responses, underscoring the importance of gut health in preventing and managing metabolic disorders.

Further research is needed to explore the full potential of these dietary interventions, but the current findings offer a promising avenue for developing effective health strategies tailored to individual nutritional needs and gut profiles.

The full study was published in the journal Nature Communications.


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