A comparison of intermittent fasting and other diets

Mehak Shah

August 2, 2022

Intermittent fasting refers to an eating plan in which daily food consumption is condensed into a single time-restricted period, followed by a period of fasting for the remaining day. Intermittent fasting has lately gained a reputation as a miraculous weight-loss approach by the netizens. Therefore, in recent times it has attracted prominence. However, a new study found that this diet isn’t any more successful than traditional diets in weight loss.

Intermittent Fasting: An Overview

Intermittent fasting is when you only consume food at certain times of the day. All diets work on the same principle: you consume less food energy per day than your body burns. Intermittent fasting accomplishes this by drastically restricting calorie intake on specific days or at particular times of the day. Furthermore, intermittent fasting helps reduce hunger by decreasing the body’s metabolism. Intermittent fasting works by extending the time between when your body burns off the calories from your last meal consumed and starts burning fat. 

Fasting for a specific number of hours every day or having food only once a day for a few days in a week aids fat loss. There are many methods to conduct intermittent fasting, but they all revolve around selecting regular eating and fasting times. For example, you can try eating eight hours a day and fasting for the rest of the day. Alternatively, you may opt to eat just one meal each day, two days per week. There are a variety of intermittent fasting programs to choose from.

Water and zero-calorie fluids like black coffee and tea are allowed during periods when you aren’t eating. You can note that “eating normally” during the eating period does not imply overeating food. If you fill your meals with high-calorie junk food, fried foods, and desserts, you won’t be able to get the benefits of intermittent fasting.

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Weight Loss

Many people who experiment with intermittent fasting do so to reduce weight. Intermittent fasting causes you to consume fewer meals. As a result, you’ll consume very few calories except if you counter that by eating substantially more during the other meals. Intermittent fasting also improves hormone function, which aids weight reduction. Reduced insulin levels, greater HGH levels, and enhanced norepinephrine (noradrenaline) levels help the body burn fat and utilise it for energy release. As a result, short-term fasting boosts your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories. As per research, it raises your metabolism while decreasing the quantity of food you consume.

Reduces Insulin Resistance

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent disorders all over the world. Elevated blood sugar levels in the setting of insulin resistance are its most prominent characteristic. Therefore, any insulin resistance method should help lower blood sugar levels. As per studies, intermittent fasting offers significant advantages for insulin resistance and a substantial decrease in blood sugar levels. Attributing to minor energy shortages, intermittent fasting decreases adiposity, mainly visceral and truncal fat. In addition, people’s leptin/adiponectin levels increase due to better appetite management and reduced levels of chronic inflammation, lowering multiple risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Improves Lipid Profile

Intermittent fasting reduces low-density lipoprotein. If done with endurance exercise, intermittent fasting can help decrease total and LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol refers to the “bad” cholesterol that increases your chance of heart disease or stroke. Intermittent fasting lowers the number of triglycerides in the blood that can cause stroke, heart attack, or heart disease.

Reduces Inflammation

Intermittent fasting, a kind of eating pattern that alternates between times of fasting and eating, benefits numerous health indicators. According to research, intermittent fasting helps control inflammation in our bodies. Intermittent fasting increases the amount of galectin-3, a type of protein linked to an inflammatory reaction. Inflammation can increase the risk of acquiring a variety of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. While your body is fasting, your glycogen reserves get nearly depleted, which can aid in the reduction of severe inflammation.

Manages Blood Pressure

The force of blood running in your arteries is called blood pressure. When the force of blood running through your arteries is persistently high, it puts extra pressure and stress on our heart to pump the blood through our body. Intermittent fasting can lower hypertension or high blood pressure by altering the gut microbiota. In addition, variations in bile acid metabolism are one of the blood pressure regulators. During intermittent fasting, more bile acid is in circulation, bringing blood pressure down. 

Calorie Intake in Intermittent Fasting

You can satisfy USDA calorie intake recommendations by adopting a time-restricted intermittent fasting diet. Time-restricted IF regimens enable you to eat regular meals at some times of the day while fasting at other times. These regimens usually give you a 6–8-hour window to receive your required caloric intake.

Other kinds of intermittent fasting will prevent you from meeting your calorie demands on certain days of the week. For instance, alternate-day fasting or the 5:2 diet (five days of regular food consumption and two days of reduced food consumption) restrict the intake of food so severely on fasting days that you will only consume a fraction of your daily caloric needs. 

The 16/8 technique, eat/stop/eat, and alternate-day fasting are examples of intermittent fasting. The 16/8 approach entails fasting for 14-16 hours each day with an 8-10 hour eating period. Another option is the eat/stop/eat strategy, in which you fast for 24 hours twice a week. Finally, you’re doing alternate-day fasting when you eat regularly one day and consume very few calories the following days.

Food Choice

Intermittent fasting provides a lot of food diversity. No foods or food kinds are forbidden, so those who adopt the eating plan can try new things and eat whatever they desire. Unfortunately, most programmes do not include healthy dietary recommendations, cooking methods, or shopping suggestions. As a result, if you eat a broad range of processed meals with added sugars or refined carbohydrates, you’re likely to keep eating those harmful items.


Diet programs that work for an individual are the driving force behind sustainable and healthy weight loss. If you don’t enjoy how you’re eating, you will not continue with it. Willpower helps you get results quickly, but it doesn’t keep you healthy in the long run. Intermittent fasting, like every weight reduction approach, can only be sustained if you can incorporate it into a practical lifestyle. If you despise intermittent fasting, you won’t be able to maintain a long-term weight loss programme. A lot of times people are not able to stay consistent because it requires them to fast and not eat food for quite some time. 

The sustainability of the plan depends on the individual adopting it. However, it would help if you remembered that Intermittent fasting isn’t a miraculous weight-loss solution. There is no such thing as a real magic bullet that will ensure you get the greatest outcomes. We’re all different, so if you want to reduce weight, you’ll have to discover a method that fits your lifestyle.

The 3-Day diet

A 3-Day diet is a group of diets that demand you to eat very little for three days. People following the 3-Day Military Diet eat meals with only a few items low in calories.

Ease and Convenience

Most three-day diets need you to stick to a strict food plan for the complete course of the program. In most situations, this necessitates purchasing and measuring items such as vanilla ice cream, hot dogs, saltines, and grapefruit. As a result, some followers may find this inconvenient.

Benefits to Health

Programs spanning only three days are unlikely to produce long-term health advantages. Having restrictive eating plans on and off might lead to overeating and other eating problems. In addition, there are no clinical trials to back up this diet’s efficacy.

Weight Reduction

While a 3-day diet may result in some weight loss, it is unlikely to be long-term. A diet plan that you follow for just three days is unlikely to lead to fat reduction. Also, followers are more likely to shed water weight and protein. Still, they will recover fat weight once they restart their regular eating habits.

Body Reset Diet

It would help if you took up an introductory stage of the 15-day diet, during which you reduce your food consumption. You don’t eat solid food for the initial five days and sip liquid shakes. After that, it’s very similar to being on fast.

Ease and Convenience 

Because the programme is just 15 days long, you must stick to the routine to see the benefits. You have fluids instead of whole-food meals the majority of the time. You should also include some healthful solid foods in the second and third weeks. It can be difficult for some people to resist eating complete foods and instead drink smoothies.

Benefits to Health 

This diet is limited to 15 days. You are unlikely to see any long-term health advantages in that short amount of time. On the other hand, the programme encourages people to live an active lifestyle and offers tips on how to go off the plan. You can enhance your health if you implement the suggestions and reduce your consumption of processed foods, meals, red meat, and other unhealthy foods.

Weight Loss

You’ll likely lose weight with this diet, specifically if you were previously inactive and eating a high-calorie diet. However, adhering to the regimen for just 15 days is unlikely to provide benefits you can sustain.

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is one of the best diet plans that is often known as the gold standard of nutrition, longevity, wellness and disease prevention. The Mediterranean Diet plan contains food items that people in Italy and Greece regularly consume. They include fruits, vegetables, lentils, olive oil, whole grains, fish, nuts, etc. The diet plan does not encourage the consumption of food items that contain added sugar and trans fats. It also excludes processed meats, refined grains and other highly processed foods. 

Ease and Convenience 

Mediterranean Diet is a sustainable diet plan. Most of the food items that are part of its eating plan are the ones you can easily buy from the market. Therefore, the diet plan is also easy to follow, especially for those who do not mind reducing the consumption of animal-based products. 

Benefits to Health

Several studies highlight the numerous health benefits a Mediterranean DIet plan can provide. For example, the diet plan often reduces the risk of certain chronic medical conditions like cardiovascular complications, diabetes and even cancer. The diet plan can also help fight inflammation and oxidative stress caused by radicals as the plan encourages the consumption of several antioxidant-rich foods. 

Weight Loss

The Mediterranean Diet is one of the best diet plans for effective weight loss. Studies say that the diet plan can reduce weight as it is plant-based with high unsaturated fat. 

Detox Diet

The detox diet is one of the most popular diets due to its claims to clean our bodies by eliminating harmful toxins and providing quick weight loss. While there are not enough studies that back these claims, there are many who have come forward and shared the positive effects that they got after following the diet plan. Like the Intermittent Fasting diet plan, the detox diet also involves a period of fasting followed by a controlled eating plan that includes fruits and fruit juices, vegetables and water. 

Ease and Convenience 

The ease and convenience of the detox diet depend on whether the person following the plan can go through a three-day to seven-day fasting plan. While the fruits, fruit juices and vegetables included in the diet plan are easily available, the plan’s success depends on whether one can sustain by eating limited food items and following a controlled diet plan. 

Benefits to Health

A detox diet claims to be capable of providing several health benefits like promoting weight loss, improving our skin, boosting the immune system, and improving the digestive system. Furthermore, the diet plan promotes mindful eating, thus helping to spread the awareness that a person should only consume what they need to supply their body with enough nutrition and energy. 

Weight Loss

One of the reasons that make the detox diet plan a popular one is because of its claim to be capable of helping to achieve quick weight loss in anyone who follows the diet plan. As the plan involves fasting followed by a restricted eating routine, it is no surprise that a detox diet can help achieve weight loss. But some studies say that such a weight loss may not be long-term and that one can even start gaining more weight once they resume their normal diet plans. 

Precautions while Intermittent Fasting

Many people adopt intermittent fasting to lose weight. In contrast, others use it to treat chronic illnesses, including irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, or arthritis. However, an intermittent diet may not suit everyone.

Before you begin intermittent fasting (or any other diet), make an appointment with your doctor. Some persons should avoid experimenting with intermittent fasting:

  • Children and teenagers under the age of 18.
  • Women who are expecting a child or who are lactating.
  • People who have diabetes or other blood sugar issues.
  • Those who have had an eating disorder in the past.


Intermittent fasting is a trendy weight-loss approach. You can do intermittent fasting in a variety of ways. Some plans entail fasting for some time each day. Others need fasting on specific days of the week. The methods used as well as the outcomes differ. If you’re thinking about trying intermittent fasting, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist right away. They can assist you in determining whether or not it is suitable for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Why is intermittent fasting better than other diets?

A: It’s no more effective than any other diet. You may minimise calories by skipping a meal or simply keeping all your portions smaller. The result will be very similar whether you fast or keep your calorie intake low. Moreover, studies suggest that intermittent eating behaviours can lead to developing eating disorders. However, whether this is a coincidence or whether fasting generates psychological problems is unclear.

Q: Why is intermittent fasting unhealthy?

A: Fasting can cause a rise in cortisol, a stress hormone, resulting in increased food demands. Deregulating your hunger may affect your mood, so you’ll probably feel irritated when fasting. Intermittent fasting is occasionally linked to dehydration since people forget to drink when not eating. Since your body uses less energy than usual, you can easily get tired. Because fasting leads to increased stress levels, it can also hamper your sleep schedule.

Q: Is intermittent fasting the best diet to lose weight?

A: The findings imply that intermittent fasting is no more successful than calorie restriction in terms of weight loss and is likely less effective in terms of body fat reduction. Physical exercise, in addition to an intermittent fasting diet, can help people lose weight faster.

Q Is intermittent fasting the same as dieting?

A: Many diets emphasise what to eat, whereas intermittent fasting emphasises when to eat. Intermittent fasting is when you only eat at certain times of the day. It’s important to note that intermittent fasting is different from a diet. It is a method of timed eating. Intermittent fasting, unlike a dietary plan that limits and controls the sources of calories, does not define which items a person should consume or skip.

Q: What are the disadvantages of intermittent fasting?

A: Since the body does not intake sufficient calories during a fasting period to supply enough energy, intermittent fasting may result in reduced alertness and attentiveness over time. Fasting can cause dizziness, exhaustion, and concentration problems. Try to have a little food at the first symptom of dizziness or light-headedness to give the body the quick energy boost it requires.

Q: Is intermittent fasting just less calories?

A: Calorie restriction refers to a reduction in average daily calorie consumption below normal, without causing starvation or nutritional deficiency. In a fasting program, a person does not eat or heavily restricts their consumption at various periods of the day, week, or month. This may or may not limit calories, depending on what and how you eat during your eating period.

Q: Do doctors recommend intermittent fasting?

A: As per doctors, intermittent fasting is harmless for several people. However, it is not suitable for everyone. For pregnant or lactating women, fasting may not be the ideal method to lose weight. Suppose you suffer from kidney stones, gastric reflux, diabetes, or other medical issues. In that case, it’s best to talk to your doctor.

Q: Can you intermittently fast forever?

A: Intermittent fasting for weight loss might provide short-term advantages. However, the long-term implications of this sort of diet, as well as other calorie-restrictive diets, remain unknown at this time. The best way to reduce weight and maintain it is to develop healthy eating and exercise routines that you like and can continue over time.

Q: What happens after 16 hrs of fasting?

A: During the 16-hour fast, our body goes through a process called autophagy, which involves the body destroying old or damaged cells. Autophagy recycles cells, which aids in the decrease of inflammation and sickness in the body. The accumulated glucogen of the liver is exhausted at this stage, and the body starts breaking down protein and fat reserves for energy release.

Q: How much weight can you lose in a week with intermittent fasting?

A: Intermittent fasting can result in a weight reduction of 0.55 to 1.65 pounds (0.25–0.75 kg) each week, depending on the rate of weight reduction. However, it mainly depends on how you execute the plan. 

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.

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