Barren Plate

The Fasting Track for Dietary Health

Is intermittent fasting on a fast track to become the next big dieting miracle?

Writing for the New York Times, Anahad O’Connor seems to think so. And it has all the right ingredients for a hot new trend. Advocates can serve you sizzling tidbits of science from rodents, like an impact on sciencey-sounding stuff like insulin, IGF-1, protein synthesis, and inflammation. They point to tantalizing short-term clinical results. Celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel are pushing it. Best of all, it feels virtuous. Fasting has been tied to spiritual practices for millennia.

Sad to say, though, the science is thin. Harvard’s David Ludwig, after outlining theoretical benefits, points out that the long-term effects of fasting have not been well studied and compliance may be difficult for many people. Just as we have seen with many dietary strategies, metabolic adaptation is an important consideration. Long-term data for such effects with intermittent fasting are simply not available yet.

MehBottom line, we like the conclusion of Catherine Hankey and colleagues in a recent review:

Current research evidence to estimate the impact of ICR [intermittent fasting] is limited. Findings are indicative, sample sizes small, and further research justified.

Click here to read the evidence review by Hankey and here to read one by Horne et al. Click here to read more from the New York Times.

Barren Plate, photograph © Naveed Dadan / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


March 9, 2016