By Vanessa Evans, A Recent ASU Nutrition Student
By now you’ve probably heard about intermittent fasting as its popularity has recently surged, but what exactly does it mean? There are three main types of intermittent fasting, each allotted a different amount of time for fasting. While this diet has proven to be effective for weight loss, there isn’t a great deal of research backing up the health benefits just yet.
The first method requires you eat for only 8-hour stretches of the day. That leaves 16 hours for fasting thus the name the 16/8 Method. The second one requires that you have a 24-hour fasting period one or two times a week. This is the 24-hour method. The last method is the 5:2, which allows 5 days of normal healthy eating and the remaining (nonconsecutive) 2 days, calorie intake is reduced to about 600 calories for the day.
Studies on this topic have had promising results, but it can be difficult to gauge if the results are due to the actual fasting periods or due to the decreased consumption of “junk foods.” A study done in Australian through the University of Adelaide found that participants who did intermittent fasting had more weight loss than those on a continuously restricted diet. This study does not, however, evaluate the long-term health benefits or drawbacks intermittent fasting may give.
There have also been studies that have linked intermittent fasting to a reduced risk of heart disease but this research is in its early phase and there is no conclusive evidence yet. Another study reported that intermittent fasting had positive impacts in patients with high cholesterol. All of this research is new and there is a lot more to do in studying this topic.
Generally, professionals are in agreement that as a short-term approach to weight loss, intermittent fasting can fit in with certain lifestyles depending on the participants health. Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone though. If you work out a lot, are pregnant, have diabetes or have a history of eating disorders, this diet isn’t for you. Many professionals warn to stay away from this diet if you have had any kind of disordered eating, as skipping meals can be extremely triggering. If you decide to pursue this diet, you also have to make sure that you are choosing quality foods when you are eating. Since you are eating fewer hours of the day, you have less opportunity to get in the required amounts of daily fruits and vegetables.
All in all, intermittent fasting is effective for weight loss, but there isn’t any evidence that it is more effective than any other form of calorie restriction. You are encouraged to talk with your healthcare provider before deciding to incorporate this diet into your lifestyle.
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Kirkpatrick, K. (2019, January 08). Intermittent Fasting Has Benefits Beyond Weight Loss. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/interested-fasting-health-get-facts-first/
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