Home » Intermittent fasting – is it all its hyped up to be?
Intermittent fasting is a HUGE buzz word in the health and wellness industry right now. Celebrities are doing it, social media influencers are recommending it and many of our clients are enquiring about it – but what does the research say?
Intermittent fasting (or IF) is a type of diet or eating pattern where the timeframe within which a person eats is restricted. This is sometimes (but not always) paired with a restricted calorie intake.
Before we dive into the research, let’s talk a little bit about quality when it comes to evidence. This is important to consider because not all studies are created equal! When we refer to the ‘quality of evidence’, this includes things like the design of the study, the methods, the number of participants, the duration and whether the authors may have a conflict of interest. All of these things affect how reliable the results are.
Now that we’ve cleared that up: there are a tonne of arguments in support of IF but unfortunately, not a lot of good quality research to back it up. The evidence is also incredibly inconsistent.
Some experts have proposed that IF can improve body composition in ‘overweight’ individuals however, the effects of this dietary pattern in humans is unclear. Many of the studies have been found within animal models which have thus kindled scientific interest in the benefits of short-term fasting approaches in humans.
Proponents of IF differentiate it from starvation by saying that the former is a voluntary restriction of food whilst the latter is involuntary. Whilst this may be true, many of the health risks are the same, including: 1,12
Additionally, the side effects of IF range from mild, such as constipation, sleep disturbances, muscle pain and headaches, to more serious, such as cardiac arrythmia, gout, and hypoglycemia.1
At EHL, we are committed to providing safe and evidence-based dietary advice, and there is just not enough good quality research for us to recommend IF to most people. More research into the potential health benefits and (more importantly) safety of IF needs to be done first.
To chat with one of our expert dietitians more about how you can improve your health through nutrition, please get in touch via [email protected]
Karli Battaglia MDiet, APD
EHL Team x
Embody Health London champions food freedom, positive body image, mental health and emotional wellbeing through a uniquely blended scientific and holistic approach. The EHL team specialises in treating chronic dieting and eating disorders by coaching clients to build confidence and reduce anxiety around their eating habits and food choices.
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