Intermittent fasting is a diet that has experienced a lot of media coverage, buzz, and popularity over the last few years. Endorsed by social media influencers, celebrities, and even twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, this restrictive diet is experiencing its moment of fame.
A study of Americans in 2018 found that of the 36% of Americans who reported following a specific diet or eating pattern, 10% of them were undergoing intermittent fasting. This was the most cited diet of any other one.
When undergoing intermittent fasting, adherents move between periods of eating and not eating. The nuances of the schedule differ according to the regimen a person adheres to. Some participants fast for certain hours of the day, some fast for entire days.
Proponents of the diet claim that it assists with focus, energy levels, and weight loss goals. However, there may be side effects and downsides to frequent fasting. Read on to learn about the debate around intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Is Not Yet Thoroughly Studied
Proponents of intermittent fasting claim that the diet can lead to:
- increased alertness
- focus and attention
- higher energy
- weight loss
- better all-around health
However, intermittent fasting is as of now not yet thoroughly studied. A small study in the health journal Obesity found that those who ate only between 8am and 2pm had lower appetites as well as reduced body fat. Studies in mice have noted an association between intermittent fasting and lower glucose levels. However, there are limitations to these findings.
For one, most research has been done on animals so far, as opposed to humans. The transference of findings between species can be limited. Additionally, there have not been many good long-term studies conducted. The few studies conducted on humans have looked primarily at indicators of health rather than at health outcomes.
Severe Restriction of Food Intake Can Be a Sign of an Eating Disorder
Another concern with a restrictive diet such as intermittent fasting is that it can be indicative of, or re-activate, an eating disorder. Some nutrition experts consider restrictive eating habits, such as frequent fasting, to be a sign of an eating disorder like orthorexia.
- an obsession with healthy eating
- a preoccupation with the next meal
- anxiety or shame around diet
- inflexibility of diet
As graduates of nutrition and health programs know, healthy eating should involve the consumption of balanced meals. Diets that teach you to feel guilt or shame around meals are counter-intuitive to the idea of healthy eating.
What Students in Nutrition Diploma Program Should Know About Fasting’s Potential Side Effects
There are known side effects to fasting that can be harmful to a person’s health and well-being. Professionals with a diploma in nutrition will know of the importance of a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that fasting can decrease the amount of REM sleep. REM sleep is beneficial for memory, mood, and learning capacity.
Fasting can also lead to several other unwanted symptoms:
- decreased alertness due to insufficient calories
- difficulty concentrating
- increased levels of cortisol, which are linked to stress
- hair loss
- irregular or missed menstrual periods
Do you want to learn about how to take care of the body in a nutrition diploma program?
Contact the Academy of Applied Pharmaceutical sciences for more information!