Intermittent fasting in athletes: PROs and CONs

Authors: Valeria Laza

Affiliation

Hygiene Discipline, Department of Community Medicine, “Iuliu Hatieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Abstract 

Weight loss is nowadays a hot topic for average people as well as for athletes. Intermittent fasting, an alternation between fast periods and normal eating periods, is the newest, in vogue diet trend to lose weight. It is not a calorie-restricted eating plan, it is a time-restricted approach. Whether intermittent fasting is good or bad, that depends on many factors. Although it could be considered a part of normal life, a life changer for some people, it might become a disaster for others. 

There are many fasting protocols depending on the extent of fasting hours (from 12 to 20 hours a day) or days (from 1 to 2 days a week or more), the most observed type being the 16:8 model. The best individual plan for eating is seldom found by experimentation; what is important is to focus on healthy eating, to avoid/limit junk food, and to avoid dehydration. 

In athletes, competing during intermittent fasting is contraindicated, and endurance training in fasting periods might boost the post-exercise recovery. So far, studies sustaining intermittent fasting have been contradictory and inconclusive, and the research methodology is not yet standardized. This type of eating habit could have many advantages as long as fasting is done wisely, and many disadvantages, with extra risks in athletes compared to average people.

Key words: athletes, intermittent fasting, weight loss.

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https://doi.org/10.26659/pm3.2020.21.1.52