The Latest Trend in Dieting: Intermittent Fasting

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An educated person is always skeptical of trends in diet and nutrition. Whether it’s the ketogenic diet, the military diet, the Paleo diet, etc., or the more common all-water diet, no-carb diet, vegan diet, or the organic diet, the endless list of contradictory and constraining diets are all too often debunked on the local news or daytime television just after they have gone viral online. To navigate all the nutritional self-help advice on the internet seems impossible without a college degree. If every person lost one ounce of weight for every trendy internet diet, the obesity epidemic would be solved by now.

The newest trend in nutrition is unique among the aforesaid diets in that it does not recommend any “super food” or warn against any particular foodstuff.

Its proponents claim that it is not just a trend; it’s a time-tested diet that whole civilizations have followed. Functioning regularly without food was a necessity for hunters in hunter-gatherer communities who did not have a constant source of sustinence. Fasting in some cultures is a deep act of worship and a part of meditation and spiritual focus.

We already “fast” overnight when we sleep. That’s why the English word for the first meal of the day is “break-fast.” An entry-level form of fasting would simply be to stretch this overnight period of fasting, say, not eating after five o’clock in the evening or before 6:00 in the morning (a thirteen-hour fast).
When the body consumes food, insulin levels rise and what energy is not burned, the body stores as fat. When the body goes for a period of time without food, the metabolism must burn fat to maintain the same level of energy.

Terry Crews is the biggest proponent of intermittent fasting. He eats mostly protein between two and ten o’clock in the evening; he fasts for sixteen hours a day. His mentor and nutrition adviser is Dr. John Fitzgerald. Crews and Fitzgerald have popularized the diet because of Crews’ impressive results.

Fasting is effective at burning fat so long as the practice is well-managed and controlled. The main concerns of fasting stem from the fact that not everyone could manage it in a healthy way. Some people may develop binge-purge cycles in their diet, a sign of an eating disorder. Binge-eating between periods of fasting negates all of the potential for losing weight. Dieticians, likewise, do not recommend intermittent fasting for those with any pre-existing eating disorder.

Other concerns are how the nervous system may react. Research has shown that intermittent fasting increases stress levels and the associated physical symptoms. However, such symptoms may only be present in the transition; just as with changing any bodily cycles, such as sleep cycles or eating cycles, the transition is the most difficult.
Those with certain forms of diabetes, heart disease, or other diseases should consult a physician before changing their diets dramatically; intermittent fasting is not for everyone. The supporting research of intermittent fasting is dubious at best. While the diet works for the average, healthy, and conscientious person in theory, limited statistical research has been conducted to prove its efficacy for the general population.

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