Intermittent Energy Restriction - What is it and Does it Work?

When it comes to dieting, there are many approaches that you can take. Intermittent energy restriction (ER) is one of them!

What is it?

Intermittent ER involves short periods of energy restriction, or eating in a calorie deficit, interspersed with periods of energy balance, ie. Eating at your maintenance calories.

Is it the same as intermittent fasting?

Intermittent ER is somewhat similar to alternate day fasting or intermittent fasting, with the main difference being that intermittent ER usually takes place over blocks of time, such as a number of days or weeks.

What are the proposed benefits of intermittent ER?

There are a number of proposed benefits to taking this dietary approach.

1. Reductions in metabolic adaptation to dieting

A key benefit is that it is proposed to attenuate the negative effects of dieting on our metabolism and body. When in a calorie deficit, a number of mechanisms kick in which act as our body’s defence against fat loss. This is known as “adaptive thermogenesis” or metabolic adaption to dieting. These mechanisms are both biological and behavioural in nature and include:

- A reduced resting energy expenditure (REE), which means our energy output and the overall calories we burn are lower

- Increases in appetite due to increased ghrelin levels (our hunger hormone)

- reduced levels of satiety or fullness due to reduced levels of circulating leptin (our fullness hormone)

- Reductions in non-activity exercise thermogenesis or NEAT levels due to decreases in energy