intermittent fasting vs calorie restriction
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We are an Inspired team of writers who are passionate about writing on the topic of a healthy approach to Nutrition and Wellness. We are guided in our writing by our knowledge and experience as well as open official medical and health sources.
13.04.2023

Intermittent Fasting vs. Calorie Restriction: Which is Better?

Intermittent fasting Nutrition
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Weight loss has a straightforward principle: 

  • You must reduce your calorie intake, and the calories you consume must come from nutritionally dense foods.

Even if you eat the best foods, you will not notice results because the issue differs between what you eat and how much you eat.

There are numerous approaches to resolving weight loss questions, including fasting vs. low-calorie diets. So, low-calorie diet vs. intermittent fasting, which one is better for your body transformation?

Is Intermittent Fasting the Same as Restricted Eating?

Intermittent fasting and restricted eating are related concepts but not the same thing.

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. This usually consists in limiting food intake for specific periods, such as only eating during an 8-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day. Some people may fast for extended periods, such as 24 hours or multiple days.

Restricted eating, however, involves limiting the types and/or amounts of food consumed daily. This could include reducing caloric intake, determining certain food groups, or eating smaller portions.

While intermittent fasting can be a form of restricted eating, it typically involves more strict time-based restrictions rather than limitations on the types or amounts of food consumed. Both methods can be effective for weight loss and improving overall health, but they are not the same.

The two concepts can often be used together in health plans as individuals adjust their eating habits over time to reach desired goals. Intermittent fasting and restricted eating may be beneficial tools for improving physical well-being depending on personal health needs.

intermittent fasting vs calorie restriction

Is Calorie Restriction Better Than Intermittent Fasting?

Whether calorie restriction or intermittent fasting is better depends on individual goals, lifestyle, and preferences. Both methods can be effective for weight loss and improving overall health, but they work slightly differently.

Calorie restriction involves reducing the number of calories consumed on a daily basis. This can be done by eating smaller portions, reducing the intake of certain foods, or combining both. The goal is to create a calorie deficit, which forces the body to use stored fat for energy.

Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. This can be done by fasting for certain hours of the day or by fasting for one or more days per week. The goal is to reduce overall calorie intake and improve metabolic function.

  • Ultimately, the best approach is sustainable and fits your lifestyle and goals.

Research suggests both methods can lead to weight loss, improved metabolic health, and increased longevity. However, some people may find it easier to stick with one way over the other, and individual results may vary. 

Fasting vs. Low Calorie: What Do We Know 

Intermittent fasting vs calorie deficit diets are two different approaches to reducing calorie intake, but they can both be effective for weight loss and improving health outcomes.

Fasting involves abstaining from food for a specific time, typically 16-24 hours or up to several days. During fasting, the body switches from using glucose as its primary energy source to burning stored fat for fuel. This can lead to weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and other health benefits.

While a low-calorie diet reduces the overall amount of calories consumed daily, it can also lead to feelings of hunger and deprivation.

  • How do they differ? 

Intermittent fasting is more about restricting eating windows than consumed food amounts. That means intermittent fasting does not always lead to weight loss—still, a drop in caloric intake is very likely to happen with a compressed eating window. 

  • Can calorie restriction be incorporated with intermittent fasting? 

Does intermittent fasting work better than calorie restriction? Well, intermittent fasting works better WITH calorie restriction. Fasting restricts calorie intake and causes a caloric deficit, forcing your body to burn fat tissue for energy. That implies you should eat attentively and avoid overeating during your eating windows.

However, there is a fine line between mild, intermittent calorie restriction and chronic calorie restriction (read: starvation, sabotaging your health, and killing your weight loss progress). When you don’t eat continuously enough, your body goes into survival mode and slows down your metabolism to conserve energy. 

  • Is intermittent fasting just calorie restriction? 

Nope, while calorie restriction limits daily calorie intake, intermittent fasting also makes your body transform fat cells into energy. The main trigger for that process is time – abstaining from food for more than 12 hours in a row.

Consequently, people practicing calorie restriction only may face a plateau, obstructing their weight loss process, which is not a problem with intermittent fasting.

Both calorie deficit vs intermittent fasting diets can be effective for weight loss and improving health outcomes, but they may only be appropriate for some. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet or weight loss program to determine what approach is best for your individual needs and goals.

Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting and Calorie Restriction

Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction have pros and cons that should be considered before starting a new diet plan. Here are some potential benefits and drawbacks of each approach:

EffectsCRIF
Weight loss++-
Boosting metabolism+
Antiaging +
Feeling more energy+
Lower heart disease risk++
Increase insulin sensitivity++

Intermittent Fasting:

Pros

  • Can promote weight loss: By limiting the period during which you eat, you may naturally consume fewer calories overall, leading to weight loss.
  • May improve metabolic health: Some research suggests intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce inflammation.
  • Can be flexible: There are many different approaches to intermittent fasting, making it easier to find a method that works for your lifestyle and schedule.

Cons

  • Can be challenging to stick with: Some people may struggle with extended periods of fasting, especially during the initial adjustment period.
  • It may not suit everyone: People with certain medical conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding, should consult a healthcare professional before starting intermittent fasting.
  • May lead to overeating: Some people may be tempted to consume more calories during the eating period, offsetting the calorie deficit created during fasting.

Calorie Restriction:

Pros

  • Can promote weight loss: By consuming fewer calories than you burn, you can create a calorie deficit and lose weight.
  • Can be flexible: There are many ways to reduce calorie intake, making finding an approach that works for your lifestyle and preferences easier.
  • May improve metabolic health: Research suggests that calorie restriction can improve insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and heart health.

Cons

  • Can be challenging to stick with Consuming fewer calories than your body needs can lead to hunger and cravings, making calorie restriction challenging for some people.
  • May not be suitable for everyone: People with certain medical conditions or pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a healthcare professional before starting calorie restriction.
  • May lead to nutrient deficiencies: Reducing calorie intake can also mean reducing the intake of essential nutrients, so it’s vital to ensure you’re still getting all the nutrients your body needs.

Overall, intermittent fasting vs low carb can help people in their weight-loss journey, but each method has pros and cons. IF typically relies on reducing the daily caloric intake by reducing the amount of food eaten at certain times throughout the day. At the same time, CR focuses more on reducing calorie consumption overall but maintains a regular eating schedule. 

Supporters of IF celebrate it as a more accessible alternative to traditional dieting because it isn’t as restrictive, while proponents of CR praise its ability to reduce energy intake and support healthy metabolic functioning. 

That being said, IF can be challenging to maintain success over an extended time due to its higher demands on dietary adherence and increased hunger levels, whereas CR might not lead to significant long-term weight loss due to its reliance on lesser calorie intakes that are hard to continue for many people. 

Fasting vs Calorie Restriction for Women’s Health

For those seeking to maximize their health and longevity, there are many approaches that can be considered. One of the most intriguing is fasting versus calorie restriction. Fasting involves periodically abstaining from food for a set number of days. 

Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction can benefit women’s health, but it’s essential to consider the potential risks and individual needs.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and metabolic health, which can be particularly beneficial for women with conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or insulin resistance. Some studies have also suggested that intermittent fasting may improve menstrual regularity in women with PCOS.

However, some women may experience adverse effects from fasting, such as menstrual irregularities or disruptions in hormone levels. Women must listen to their bodies and consider their needs when deciding whether intermittent fasting suits them.

Calorie restriction can also benefit women’s health, such as weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity. However, women may be more susceptible to negative effects from calorie restriction, such as decreased bone density, if they are not consuming enough essential nutrients. This is especially important for pregnant women, breastfeeding, or at risk for osteoporosis.

That being said, it’s important to remember that each woman will have unique physiology and needs – what works for one woman may not work as well for another. 

Intermittent Fasting vs Calorie Restriction Study –  Which is More Effective for Weight Loss?

Recent studies comparing the results of intermittent fasting to calorie restriction were conducted to determine the most effective dieting technique for weight loss. 

While both methods showed positive effects in the measured success criteria, such as reduced body mass index, waist circumference, and fat mass, the study ultimately concluded that intermittent fasting achieves a more extensive and consistent range of benefits than calorie restriction. Whether any long-term effects may further tip the scale in one direction; however, current evidence supports intermittent fasting as a more practical option.

Research indicates calorie deficit vs intermittent fasting is effective for weight loss, although the benefits may depend on individual needs and goals. Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and not eating, while calorie restriction typically consists in cutting back on calories each day. 

One study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that after 12 weeks, intermittent fasting and calorie restriction resulted in similar weight loss among overweight women. However, the study also found that the women in the intermittent fasting group reported less hunger and fewer cravings than those in the calorie restriction group.

Another study published in JAMA Internal Medicine compared the effects of intermittent fasting and daily calorie restriction on weight loss and metabolic health among obese adults. After one year, the study found that both groups lost a similar amount of weight, but those in the intermittent fasting group had greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood pressure.

A meta-analysis of several studies also found that intermittent fasting and calorie restriction were effective for weight loss. However, intermittent fasting was associated with greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and other metabolic health markers.

While studies show that both methods reduce body weight and fat mass, intermittent fasting may offer additional metabolic benefits such as improved insulin sensitivity and blood pressure control. 

Furthermore, its flexibility makes intermittent fasting more feasible than traditional caloric restriction. In essence, which method is most effective depends largely on the person’s lifestyle preferences, level of commitment, and health goals.

Also, read – Intermittent Fasting vs. Prolonged Fasting

Intermittent Fasting vs Calorie Restriction Results After 1 Month

The results of intermittent fasting and calorie restriction after one month can vary depending on several factors, including starting weight, age, gender, physical activity level, and diet quality.

For both approaches, weight loss can be expected if a calorie deficit is created. The weight loss will depend on the degree of calorie restriction or fasting and other factors. On average, a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss is about 1-2 pounds per week, so after one month, it’s realistic to expect a weight loss of 4-8 pounds.

1. Intermittent fasting involves limiting your eating period, typically by skipping breakfast or dinner and consuming all your daily calories within a shorter time frame. This approach can lead to weight loss by reducing the overall number of calories consumed each day. After one month of intermittent fasting, people may experience weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, decreased inflammation, and changes in hunger hormones.

2. Calorie restriction involves consuming fewer calories than your body needs to maintain weight. This can be achieved by reducing portions, cutting out high-calorie foods, or tracking calorie intake. After one month of calorie restriction, people may experience weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, decreased inflammation, and reduced blood pressure.

Both approaches can be practical for weight loss and improving metabolic health after one month. However, the main difference is that intermittent fasting limits your eating time, while calorie restriction involves reducing the total number of calories consumed daily.

NOTE: The results of both approaches can be highly individualized and may vary from person to person. Some people may see greater results after one month, while others may see more gradual changes.

In addition to weight loss, both approaches can positively affect metabolic health markers, such as blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure. However, changes in these markers may take up to one month to become evident.

Intermittent Fasting and Macros: What Should You Eat?

When following an intermittent fasting diet, it’s essential to focus on eating nutrient-dense foods that will help you meet your daily nutrient needs and support your health goals. It’s also important to pay attention to your macronutrient (macro) intake, which refers to the number of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in your diet.

Here are some general guidelines for what to eat when following an intermittent fasting diet:

Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats.

Consume adequate protein. Protein is vital for building and repairing tissues, maintaining muscle mass, and regulating hormones. Aim for a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily.

Include healthy fats. Healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil, can help keep you full and satisfied during fasting.

Limit processed foods and added sugars. These foods are often high in calories and low in nutrients and can contribute to inflammation and other health issues.

Pay attention to your overall calorie intake. Even following an intermittent fasting diet, consuming appropriate calories is still important to support your energy needs and health goals.

The specific macronutrient ratios that work best for you may depend on your individual needs and preferences. For example, some people may find that a higher protein or higher fat diet works better, while others may prefer a more balanced approach. Experiment with different macro ratios to find what works best for you.

Is Intermittent Fasting Combined With Calorie Restriction Really Effective?

Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction has shown to be a successful weight-loss strategy for obese women. A study conducted in 2020 on 53 obese female participants found that intermittent fasting combined with decreased caloric intake is more effective than calorie restriction alone. 

Additionally, findings suggest that this dieting method benefits cardiovascular health by reducing markers such as cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides. The study concluded by recommending intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction for weight loss and cardioprotection for obese women.

One study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine examined the effects of intermittent fasting and calorie restriction on weight loss and cardiovascular health in obese women. 

The study found that after 12 weeks, the women in the intermittent fasting and calorie restriction group lost more weight and body fat than those in the calorie restriction group alone. Additionally, the intermittent fasting and calorie restriction group had greater improvements in cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Another study published in the International Journal of Obesity compared the effects of alternate-day intermittent fasting without calorie restriction to continuous calorie restriction in obese women. 

The study found that after eight weeks, both groups experienced significant weight loss and improvements in insulin sensitivity, but the alternate-day fasting group had greater reductions in blood pressure and triglycerides.

Moreover, it’s crucial to combine dietary interventions with other lifestyle changes, such as regular physical activity and stress management, which are vital for sustainable weight loss. A balanced, nutrient-dense diet that includes a variety of foods, along with regular exercise and adequate sleep, can contribute to overall health and well-being.

The bottom line

  • Will both lead to weight loss? 

Yes, but intermittent fasting is more sustainable and effective in the long term. 

  • So, is intermittent fasting better than calorie restriction without moderate calorie restrictions?

Well, intermittent fastn. These methods work best if combined mindfully. 

P.S. We can help you to create and follow the most efficient plan for you. 

Yes, but intermittent fasting is better for anti-aging as it boosts metabolism and cell renewal. 

  • Which is better for my health?

Both (moderately!) a low-calorie diet and intermittent fasting have significant overall health benefits, including decreased blood pressure and cholesterol, reduced diabetes, stroke, and heart disease risks, and reductions in some inflammatory factors and thyroid hormones, to name a few.

Conclusion 

The easiest way to lose weight is to match your daily calorie expenditure with your calorie intake. You consume a little less than you burn if you want to lose weight. You have the option of selecting the technique that best suits your lifestyle and tastes.

If you follow mindful eating behaviors, intermittent fasting, and calorie restriction will help you lose weight and improve your health. It’s critical to ensure that anything you attempt offers you with a healthy, well-balanced diet. We can help you create a healthy weight-loss plan!

We are an Inspired team of writers who are passionate about writing on the topic of a healthy approach to Nutrition and Wellness. We are guided in our writing by our knowledge and experience as well as open official medical and health sources.

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