Is intermittent fasting legit? | The Tylt

Is intermittent fasting legit?

Think of what you eat throughout the day. Meals, snacks, and dessert—all included. Now imagine consuming all of that food in a five-to eight-hour window. That's what intermittent fasting is. Proponents of IF say that it helps regulate the body’s ability to burn fat and results in a number of long-term health benefits, while others say IF prevents the benefits of exercise and causes a number of lasting health risks. Does legitimate fasting have merit?

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Most diets tell you what you can and cannot eat. Cutting carbs, eating tons of fat, cutting sugar—there are innumerable ways to manipulate your body into burning fat and building muscle. The task is finding what works best for you. 

Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, is unlike its dietary brethren. Rather than specify what you should eat, IF only tells you when to eat. 

IF involves limiting your eating to a few hours per day–still aiming to get your required daily nutrients and calories during that window–and fasting for the remainder of the day. The most common timeline for IF is the 16/8 method, where participants will fast for 16 hours (including sleep) and eat during only eight hours of the day. 

TIME's Markham Heid investigated the merits behind the phenomenon. He looked to Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, for insight:

There’s evidence these diets bolster stress resistance and combat inflammation at a cellular level, [Mattson] says. 'People undergo a metabolic switch in which the liver’s energy stores are depleted, and so the body’s cells start using fat and ketones for energy,' he explains. This switch is a form of mild challenge to the human body that he compares to exercise; just as running or lifting weights stresses the body in beneficial ways, the stress imposed by fasting appears to induce some similarly beneficial adaptations.

Healthline puts IF in plain terms: 

Intermittent fasting can have many benefits for your body and brain. It can cause weight loss and may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It may also help you live longer.
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Many of the studies conducted on IF have been done on rats, and as Harvard Health Publishing reports:

They lose weight, their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars improve…but they’re rats. Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that IF is safe and incredibly effective, but really no more effective than any other diet. In addition, many people find it difficult to fast.

Fitness professionals also worry that IF prevents the positive effects of exercise. U.S. News's Cedric X. Bryant writes:

...I'm also concerned with how intermittent fasting may negatively affect people's ability to reap the benefits of exercise. Food is fuel, and that fuel is necessary to drive movement, whether you're hitting the hiking trails or lifting kettle bells in the gym. So, what happens when you fail to provide fuel for long stretches of time?
Under normal circumstances, the body uses stored carbohydrates to fuel exercise. When those stores are depleted, the body searches for other energy sources and will turn to both fat and protein stores. Many proponents of intermittent fasting cite the fact that the body burns more fat during exercise than during a fast, but they fail to mention that the body will be burning–and losing–more muscle as well.
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CNN's Lisa Drayer reports on one couple, the Taylor's, experience with IF. According to the Taylors: 

'For six days per week we don't eat until around 5 pm, but eat as much as we want and whatever we want from 5 p.m. until we go to bed. It is not a diet in the classic sense–we do not restrict WHAT we eat or HOW MUCH we eat, but rather just WHEN we eat,'

As a result, the Taylors report that they've maintained a healthy body weight and become more alert, less stressed and less prone to getting sick. For the Taylors, IF has become a strategy for healthy living, rather than a way to lose weight. 

A study published in October also indicated that IF can extend one's lifespan. According to Drayer, the study: 

...found that mice who fasted, whether because they were fed all of their calories only once per day or because their calories were restricted, which naturally caused them to eat all of their limited food at once–were healthier and lived longer compared to mice who had constant access to food.

According to Healthline, a number of studies have also indicated that IF can reduce health risk factors and reverse symptoms of serious health conditions, including cancer. 

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But at the end of the day, IF is really just a fancy way of saying you skip breakfast. Proponents of IF even admit that the main reason the system works is that it leads to eating fewer calories throughout the day. This is a hard line to walk.

If someone eats too few calories in a day (1,200 calories or less), their body will go into starvation mode, slowing metabolism as a result. By limiting your eating to a few hours each day, it can be difficult to fuel your body with the energy it needs to function. On the other end of the spectrum, IF may lead to over-eating during the eating window if someone feels particularly deprived or hungry. 

For some, IF can create or accelerate eating disorders and even lead to an obsession with food. HuffPost points out: 

People rarely discuss this, but at its most extreme, intermittent fasting's binge-and-purge mentality could trigger or exacerbate bulimia and other eating disorders. The 'anything goes' mentality some experts permit during the feeding state could lead someone to overeat, creating guilt, shame, and other problems that only become worse over time. For someone with emotional or psychological eating disorders, IF could become a convenient crutch to amplify these issues.
FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Is intermittent fasting legit?
A festive crown for the winner
#IntermittentFastFTW
#FastingNotADiet