There were [no statistical] differences between the low- and high- [meal frequency] groups for adiposity indices, appetite measurements or gut peptides (peptide YY and ghrelin) either before or after the intervention. We conclude that increasing meal frequency does not promote greater body weight loss under the conditions described in the present study.
Fasting has been used in Europe as a medical treatment for years. Many spas and treatment centers, particularly those in Germany, Sweden, and Russia, use medically supervised fasting. Fasting has gained popularity in American alternative medicine over the past several decades, and many doctors feel it is beneficial. Fasting is a central therapy in detoxification, a healing method founded on the principle that the build up of toxic substances in the body is responsible for many illnesses and conditions.
Mattson points out that, from an evolutionary perspective, the brain power that fasting generates makes sense. Mammals typically go days without food, often hunting on an empty belly. Semi-starved animals with enhanced smarts and energy would be more likely to obtain food and live another day. “If you are that wolf or lion, now a week with no food, you better be able to focus your mind and concentrate on what you need to do to get food,” he says.
Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Churches, held that fasting served to "kill and subdue the pride and lust of the flesh". As such, the Lutheran churches often emphasized voluntary fasting over collective fasting, though certain liturgical seasons and holy days were times for communal fasting and abstinence. Certain Lutheran communities advocate fasting during designated times such as Lent, especially on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. A Handbook for the Discipline of Lent delineates the following Lutheran fasting guidelines:
Pros: While 24 hours may seem like a long time to go without food, the good news is that this program is flexible. You don’t have to go all-or-nothing at the beginning. Go as long as you can without food the first day and gradually increase fasting phase over time to help your body adjust. Pilon suggests starting the fast when you are busy, and on a day where you have no eating obligations (like a work lunch or happy hour).
You’re consuming less food and thus spending less money. Rather than overeating to put on 1 pound of muscle and 4 pounds of fat in a week or two, you’re aiming to eat exactly enough to put on 1 pound of muscle without adding much fat on top of it. Yeah, it’s a delicate balance, but there’s far less swing involved. You are just slowly, steadily, and consistently building muscle and strength over many months.
The Hebrew verb sum [Wx] is the only one used to describe fasting as a religious exercise. It (and its cognate noun som [/x]) conveys the explicit meaning "to abstain from food" and thus occurs regularly as a technical religious term. The Greek verb nesteuo [nhsteuvw] and its companion noun nesteia [nhsteiva] occur consistently in the Septuagint as translations of Hebrew sum [Wx] and som [/x] and as the usual terms for fasting in the New Testament.
As long as you are in a calorie deficit then meal timing is irrelevant. In some cases large late night meals have been shown to preserve muscle mass better on a diet and result in a greater loss in body fat percentage. I highly recommend reading Martin Berkhan’s article on the subject – Is Late Night Eating Better for Fat loss and Health. Check out this post for more on the differences between the Kinobody approach and LeanGains (Martin Berkhan’s approach).
Among the Western religions, only Zoroastrianism prohibits fasting, because of its belief that such a form of asceticism will not aid in strengthening the faithful in their struggle against evil. The other Western religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—emphasize fasting during certain periods. Judaism, which developed many dietary laws and customs, observes several annual fast days, primarily on days of penitence (such as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement) or mourning. Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, has observed a 40-day fast period during Lent, a spring period of penitence before Easter, and during Advent, a penitential period before Christmas. Among Roman Catholics the observance has been modified since the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) to allow greater individual choice, with mandatory fasting only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday during Lent. Protestant churches generally leave the decision to fast to individual church members. The month of Ramadan in Islam is a period of penitence and total fasting from dawn to dusk.
Fasting or intermittent calorie restriction may affect cancer and tumor development, but are not currently used as a form of treating cancer. In 2011, the American Cancer Society recommended that people undergoing chemotherapy increase their intake of protein and calories, but provided evidence that a short-term period of fasting may have benefits during chemotherapy. Chronic fasting is not recommended for people with cancer at risk for weight loss or a suppressed immune system.