New Study Reveals Intermittent Fasting May Have These Dangerous Side Effects

There are a fair number of benefits to intermittent fasting (IF): a diet where you eat only within a limited amount of time (usually 8 hours) and fast for the remaining hours of the day. IF has become a popular choice for those looking to improve their health through their diet, as one of these benefits includes weight loss. However, a new study has found that this eating pattern can lead to dangerous side effects.

The new study, which was published in the journal eating behaviors, involved an analysis of data from the Canadian Study of Adolescent Health Behaviors. Using data from more than 2,762 adolescents and young adults, the results showed that over the course of one year, 38.4% of men, 47.7% of women, and 52% of transgender people or gender non-conforming had used intermittent fasting.

Those responsible for the study found that intermittent fasting was significantly associated with disordered eating behaviors. For women, that included binge eating and vomiting, as well as compulsive exercise, while men tended to engage in the latter.

“Given our findings, it is problematic how prevalent intermittent fasting was in our sample,” said the lead author. Kyle T. Ganson, PhD, MSWassistant professor at the Factor-Inwentash School of Social Work at the University of Toronto, according to EurekAlert!

Jason M. Nagata, MD, MScstudy co-author and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, added: “The associations found between intermittent fasting and disordered eating behaviors are particularly salient, given the significant increase in disordered eating among adolescents and young adults since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The study shows an association that we already see in practice,” Maria Curnutte, MS, RD, LDof the Louisville Eating Disorders Center, says Eat this, not that! “Clients often start intermittent fasting to ‘get healthy,’ as this is something that is promoted as healthy. However, restricting our intake can lead to other extreme eating behaviors. Ignoring hunger can increase hunger, resulting in overeating and binge eating. These behaviors can also trigger compensatory behaviors like over-exercising or vomiting.”

“In addition, people prone to restrictive eating disorders may find that restriction in intermittent fasting will trigger these restrictive urges,” Curnutte says. “I’m glad to see a study that uses a large data set to show that these associations are significant, so that we can communicate to others that intermittent fasting is something to be careful about.”

Curnutte also notes that “those with a history of an eating disorder should never do intermittent fasting under any circumstances.” Also, “those who feel they have a complicated relationship with food should also avoid this.”

For others interested in intermittent fasting, Curnutte says, “Our bodies naturally fast overnight. By taking a meal break at night, our bodies will see these benefits of fasting. If anyone decides they would like to do intermittent fasting for a longer period of time than our natural overnight fast when we sleep, I encourage them to discuss it with a registered dietitian to ensure they are not missing a key component that could harm their body. ”.

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