The world’s trendiest diet has some major negative effects

As Intermittent fasting continues to surge in popularity, experts are hastening to establish relevant prerequisites for aspiring subscribers. 

Just this week, a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine disclosed just how difficult long-term intermittent fasting can be for anyone, saying nothing of those with pre-existing conditions.  Many followers observe a loose appraisal of the recommended guidelines; eating more than they should during fasting periods and not eating nearly enough on feasting days.

“We are at a transition point where we could soon consider adding information about intermittent fasting to medical school curricula alongside standard advice about healthy diets and exercise,”  commented Mark Mattson, a neuroscience professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who co-authored the new paper. “A diet of three meals with snacks every day is so ingrained in our culture that a change in this eating pattern will rarely be contemplated by patients or doctors. The abundance of food and extensive marketing in developed nations are also major hurdles to be overcome.”

It’s not really a diet

It’s important to remember that the acclaimed “diet trend” isn’t really a diet, strictly speaking, it’s more akin to a metabolic schedule. Followers are free to establish feasting and fasting windows after their own particular needs, but the most popular iterations sees individuals restrict eating to six to eight hours per day or limit people to one moderate-sized meal over the course of two days. 

This means that it’s extremely important that votaries make sure that they’re accompanying their feasting days with essential minerals and macro-nutrients. If subscribers fail to do so they put themselves at risk of losing a considerable amount of muscle mass,  developing anemia, a weakened immune system, liver and kidney problems, and an irregular heartbeat. Before you commit to anything however, Mattson recommends speaking with your physician to determine if fasting would do you more harm than good.

The importance of guidelines

Fasting works by augmenting our metabolism-targeting our bodies’ sugar stores in order to gradually turn fat into energy. As previously covered by Ladders the benefits of this process are bountiful, attenuating everything from mortality to cancer risk reductions, to dementia prevention. Even still, more than a few medical experts have gone on the record to warn some individuals against taking up the fad, including otherwise healthy followers who aren’t obese. 

“Intermittent fasting may not be a good diet for diabetic patients on medications and/or insulin that could have swings in blood sugar,” Mintz said. “Intermittent fasting is not for older patients. Hypoglycemia needs to be watched, which can lead to falls.”  Dr. Guy L. Mintz, director of cardiovascular health and lipidology at Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in New York told USA Today.

Long term fasting, which refers to any commitment period that exceeds a month, sends our bodies into conservation mode, wherein we burn calories at a much slower rate.  “Patients should be advised that feeling hungry and irritable is common initially and usually passes after two weeks to a month as the body and brain become accustomed to the new habit,” Mattson explained.

If fasters breach their allotted feasting and fasting windows they will put on weight very quickly and lose muscle mass.  To avoid this Mattson  recommends slowly increase feasting windows as opposed to dropping the diet “cold turkey.”  The rapid weight loss observed in the initial stages of the regimen is primarily on account of the loss of water weight. This is aided by the various laxative concoctions that many fasters pair with their fast.  The fluid imbalance that follows their after can result in prolonged fatigue, dizziness, headaches and low blood sugar. 

Although pregnant women, children and the elderly should opt for other regimens, fasting can be an excellent healthy eating plan if adopted for the right reasons and realized correctly.  You do not need to fast to clear your body of toxins. That’s what the liver, lungs colon and kidney are for. Fasting and feasting windows are optimal ways to keep us from overeating and to make sure we fill the designated slots with a panoply of fruits vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. From the report:

“Evidence is accumulating that eating in a 6-hour period and fasting for 18 hours can trigger a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy, with increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of diseases, including cancer and obesity.”

The new study titled, Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease was co-authored by Rafael de Cabo, and Mark P. Mattson and can be read in full in The New England Journal of Medicine.