Intermittent fasting: What's all the hype?

Nov. 13, 2020

Intermittent fasting (IF), is one of the newest trends that people are swearing by. From influencers to fitness blogs, intermittent fasting has most likely made an appearance in your life. Fasting is a process in which you willingly limit your intake of food, drinks or even both for a certain period of time.  While there are different cultures and religions that fast for other reasons, the current mainstream form of IF usually has the intention of weight loss linked to it. 

The Breakdown

Intermittent fasting can be categorized into three different groups:

  • Time-restrictive fasting
  • Alternate day fasting
  • Modified fasting

Each of these different forms of fasting require that you fast for a certain period of time, with a certain window of time open for you to eat. For example, time-restrictive fasting requires you to fast for 12-20 hours with your ability to eat once that time is complete. All forms of fasting can have different effects on your body, and adopting intermittent fasting into your life can have varying effects on your own mental well-being and how you perceive food.

 

What are some of the Benefits?

For some people when they begin intermittent fasting, they may find that they begin to lose weight, however extensive research has not been conclusive to determine if fasting has long-term positive effects on the body. Some researchers claim that those who follow an intermittent fasting lifestyle will have an increase in their metabolism and possibly have anti-aging effects from this diet. However the gold standard research, which are clinical trials,  are limited.  So generalizing and proving this claim is more challenging and more quality research is needed.

How can it be harmful?

When people see the immediate results (weight loss) of intermittent fasting, they are drawn to wanting those same results for themselves and thus may adopt this new diet. At first, they may see these changes they desire, however this diet can have effects on mental well-being that people may not even realize. Constantly focusing on when you can and cannot eat can very well lead people to begin to develop a sense of disordered eating.  IF tends to be similar to all other diets that it provides a set of rules to follow and if those rules are broken, one can be left confused and frustrated. 

The Takeaway

Always having to ignore your hunger cues and place your body in a starvation mode, only to then eat at a “right” time is not a balanced and/or sustainable diet to have long term. When you are constantly depriving your body to eat when you are hungry may result in a person to experience unhealthy eating habits.  This is also not recommended for folks with certain health conditions, if you are on medications that lower your blood sugar or if you have a known eating disorder. 

 

If you are considering a new way of eating such as intermittent fasting or if you are currently struggling with this or any other diet, reach out to Campus Health and make an appointment to talk this through with a Registered Dietitian.  Maintaining pleasure around food is important and can be a more sustainable approach.