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Calorie Restriction vs. Intermittent Fasting: Which Is More Effective?



Research finds that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan as well as preserve memory and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other maladies. But is chronic calorie restriction (CCR) the same as intermittent fasting (IT)? It is not. And are the benefits of CCR the same as those of IT? They are similar, but CCR has a downside. Stay tuned.

How Does Chronic Calorie Restriction Differ From Intermittent Fasting?

CCR involves limiting your food intake on a daily basis. According to noted Natural Health practitioner, Dr. Joseph Mercola, if is not an extreme form of dieting involving binges followed by starvation. Instead, it consists of timing your meals to permit regular periods of fasting.

In IF, the intervals between a fast can vary. Some people fast once a month or once a week, while others prefer a daily fast. The latter involves eating only within a condensed window, such as an 8-hour-or-less period each day, which gives the body a daily 16-hour fast.

The Downside to Chronic Calorie Restriction

While some studies show CCR increases longevity, this practice has a downside. Aside from the constant stress of obsessing over calories, CCR has several harmful health effects. Research shows CCR may impair the immune system, resulting in slower would healing and a greater risk of infectious disease. In studies involving young animals, restricting calories may reduce fertility.

Other detrimental effects include a loss of muscle mass and strength in addition to reduced bone mineral density, especially in the hip and spine. Dr. Shilpi Agarwal, Family Medicine and Integrative and Holistic Medicine physician, tells Live in the Now that some studies show those who practice CCR have more fatigue versus those who practice IF. All these adverse effects result from malnourishment.

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Fasting can be a safer, more effective and speedier route to the benefits of CCR. Several studies link intermittent fasting with increased longevity. Recent research associates IF with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer along with obesity and inflammation. The practice is also shown to protect brain cells, improve sleep quality and increase alertness in addition to preserving memory and cognitive function.

Why is Fasting Beneficial?

It revs up autophagy, the internal garbage-disposal system in the body that helps cells eliminate damaged molecules, including those linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. Some scientists feel that the failure of autophagy to keep pace with the accumulation of cellular debris is a major cause of chronic diseases linked to aging, says Dr. Andrew Weil, noted Holistic Health physician.

Fasting also increases the level of certain proteins that help prevent the incorrect assembly of molecules in the cell. Another benefit is that fasting mice have a higher level of a substance that prevents stressed neurons from dying.

Dr. Agarwal provides the following recommendations:

“The degree to which individuals must fast, a few hours each day, every other day, once a week, etc. was not standardized but it does prove beneficial to incorporate it, even in small ways. It is important to stress that IF means that while fasting you can still consume water, tea, and other low calorie beverages. This is in contrast to the traditional recommendations of ‘eat small meals throughout the day’ because many people consume more calories during these small meals than is intended, and fewer anti-inflammatory foods in the diet.

“I like to recommend that patients try fasting once per month to start out, and increase a few hours between meals initially. It is also important to remember that individuals with diabetes should not fast because they can become extremely ill. Pregnant women should also refrain from IF.”


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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