Intermittent Diet: A New Diet Model

Tempo de Leitura: 3 minutos

Numerous strategies used among athletes to promote the reduction of body weight or body fat before competition are widely disseminated. Among them, there is the traditional approach that works with continuous energy restriction. This is popularly known as caloric deficit throughout the weight loss phase, and can last from days to weeks. There is also the method by which one works from intermittent caloric restriction (or intermittent diet). This involves alternating periods of energy restriction with periods of higher energy intake. In the latter case, the promotion of weight loss superior to the traditional method is considered, which can be explained due to periods of feedback that cause transient restoration of the energy balance, a kind of strategy that “circumvents” the physiological functioning of human metabolism.

Some studies indicate that intermittent periods of energy balance during energy restriction attenuate some of the adaptive responses that tend to resist continued weight and fat loss. In addition, they promote faster and more efficient recovery. However, this dietary intervention model should be achieved through safe and effective nutritional strategies. Therefore, they should minimize loss of lean tissue, health and performance, as well as draw lines that decrease dependence on extreme and rapid weight loss practices.


Intermittent caloric restriction should not be used for rapid weight loss. Abrupt energy restriction induces greater losses of lean mass (MM) than moderate, particularly in lean athletes. In addition, it can adversely affect health and performance outcomes, including reduced muscle strength, decreased glycogen stocks, and increased risk of injury due to fatigue and mm loss. Therefore, it would be prupisable for an athlete to adopt a moderate level of RE that would target body weight losses in the range of 0.5 to 1% per week. Or even reducing energy intake by a maximum of 35% compared to your total energy needs. In addition, it is recommended to alternate two weeks of moderate restriction with two weeks of normocaloric intake.

In the case of the periods of feedback, one can synchronize normocaloric intake intervals with training periods focused on results or high volume. Therefore, it allows the athlete to perform optimally during training sessions. Thus, it is necessary to high protein intake during restrictions to minimize mm loss as well as provide greater satiety and increase energy expenditure through the thermal effect of feeding. The recommended daily protein intake range is 2.3 to 3.1 g/kg of lean body mass or approximately 2.0–2.6 g/kg of weight.

In addition, carbohydrate intake can be emphasized during feedings. This is done because high levels of leptin after carbohydrate intake cause stimulating effects on energy expenditure, suppressing appetite. Thus, leading to greater efficiency in fat loss and easier diet ading. The increased availability of carbohydrates during the periods of feedback also results in efficient anabolic responses when in conjunction with resistance exercise.

Clinical practice

Initially, one should explore various restriction patterns, such as duration and level of energy intake for the periods worked, feedback, proportions of the restriction. All this, in order to trace more assertively the feeding and manipulation of other dietary variables: such as distribution of macronutrients, micronutrients and which supplementations fit according to the target and individual characteristics of each patient.

For the moments when refeeding is performed, it is ideal to work with high carbohydrate content and high protein intake in the periods of restriction. This is done in order to facilitate the maintenance of higher training volumes and increase the anabolic response after resistance training in these periods. Thus, potentially reducing fat-free mass losses during energy restriction.

Bibliographic references

Reading Suggestion:
Athletes With Better Performance: What Do They Have on the Menu?

Watch the video on the Science Play
platform – Optimization of Digestion in Athletes for Performance Improvement

Article Intermittent diet: Peos JJ, Norton LE, Helms ER, Galpin AJ, Fournier P. Intermittent Dieting:
Theoretical Considerations for the Athlete.
Sports (Basel). 2019 Jan 16;7(1):22. Doi: 10.3390/sports7010022. PMID: 30654501; PMCID: PMC6359485.

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