Pursuing a Certificate in Nutrition? Here’s a Look into Intermittent Fasting

Nutritionist training in Ontario

If you’re pursuing a nutrition certificate or even just have an interest in doing so, you’ve likely heard of Intermittent Fasting (IF), which has become something of a fitness trend. Though fasting has been part of human behaviour most of our history, the research and integration of it into the wellness industry has increased recently. Research is still ongoing, but the popularity of fasting makes it a prominent topic of debate and research in the field of nutrition.

Average people do a version of intermittent fasting each day, while they are asleep. During this time, cell repair occurs and other bodily maintenance is at work. Read on for how IF works.

A few Quick Facts about the History of Fasting

After your certificate in nutrition, you may have clients who fast for religious reasons. In fact, fasting has been around since ancient times. Here are a few interesting things you might not know about it:

  • Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine, prescribed fasting to people with illnesses, stemming from the observation that animals do not eat when sick.
  • The ancient Greeks believed that fasting improved cognitive abilities.
  • Fasting exists in virtually every major religion including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism.
The Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed fasting to sick patients

The Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed fasting to sick patients

Common IF Ratios Explained

IF is also often referred to as time-restricted eating and involves cycling between periods of fasting and feeding. Common ratios are:

  • 12 hours of eating and 12 hours of fasting each day
  • 8 hours of eating and 16 hours of fasting each day
  • Calorie reduction 2 days of the week and normal eating for the other 5 days, rather than operating on a daily ratio (often referred to as the 5:2 diet)

Rather than a conventional diet, this is better referred to as an eating pattern.

Planning for intermittent fasting can be done with a variety of cycle ratios

Planning for intermittent fasting can be done with a variety of cycle ratios

Research in Fasting Explained for Students in Nutrition and Health Programs

Students in nutrition and health programs might be most interested in the latest research regarding IF. Though a great deal of media around intermittent fasting is focused on weight loss, the majority of research on the eating pattern is actually focused on other aspects of health such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cellular repair
  • Insulin
  • Blood pressure

The medical community’s priorities lie in treating illnesses with fasting as opposed to the public’s interest in weight-dropping solutions.

A study by MIT biologists on mice showed that fasting caused their cells to break down fatty acids rather than glucose, making stem cells more regenerative. This suggests a theory that fasting could potentially be used for various health issues, including:

  • Intestinal ailments
  • Cancers
  • Aging-related illness

A study at the University of California looked at the effect of fasting on circadian rhythms. While light is a commonly known influence on our internal clocks, food intake can also be a factor. While this research is still inconclusive, you may encounter more information about this as research progresses.

Nutrition research into intermittent fasting is still ongoing and bringing on new discoveries

Nutrition research into intermittent fasting is still ongoing and bringing on new discoveries

Would you like to pursue a career as a nutritionist?

Learn more about AAPS and our nutritionist training in Ontario.