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Intermittent Fasting: Debating its Effectiveness and Potential Harms

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Intermittent Fasting: Debating its Effectiveness and Potential Harms

Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained significant popularity as a dietary approach over the past few decades. This eating pattern involves fasting for a specified period and consuming meals only within a designated time window. While many proponents of IF argue that it entails a holistic lifestyle change rather than solely focusing on healthy food choices, there are differing opinions on its efficacy and potential risks.

Celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar recently expressed concerns about the potential harm associated with intermittent fasting. In an Instagram post, she stated that diets are generally unsustainable, restrictive, and often overlook regional food systems and practical daily considerations. Diwekar encouraged individuals to focus on developing good habits for long-term health and sustainable weight loss, advocating for a simple and sensible approach to food.

Diwekar further highlighted that weight loss during fasting could result in the loss of muscle mass and bone density. She referred to the latest research presented at the International Sport and Exercise Nutrition Conference (ISENC) in December 2022, stating that no conclusive studies have shown any benefits of fasting for insulin sensitivity. On the contrary, she claimed that fasting might reduce insulin sensitivity by increasing intramuscular triacylglycerol (IMTG) levels.

The potential harms associated with intermittent fasting, as outlined by Diwekar, include:

  1. Slowed gastric emptying: Fasting can impede the rate at which the stomach empties, potentially leading to discomfort and digestive issues.
  2. Adverse effects: Some individuals may experience symptoms such as acidity, headaches, constipation, or disruptions in menstrual cycles while practicing intermittent fasting.
  3. Increased reliance on caffeine/cigarettes: In the absence of food, people may turn to caffeine or cigarettes as a means to suppress hunger or increase alertness, which can have negative health consequences.
  4. Reduced activity and energy expenditure: The body may lower its activity levels and energy expenditure in anticipation of the next fasting period, potentially affecting overall metabolism.

Diwekar also addressed certain misconceptions about intermittent fasting:

  1. Autophagy: Autophagy, the body’s cellular mechanism for recycling damaged components, is often touted as a benefit of fasting. However, Diwekar suggested that autophagy primarily occurs during times of resource scarcity rather than being specifically triggered by fasting.
  2. Ketones as fuel: Ketones, produced when the body metabolizes fat in the absence of carbohydrates, are claimed to serve as an alternative fuel source during fasting. However, Diwekar asserted that ketones may have limited efficacy for high-performance activities and are more suited for light exercise.

Diwekar further criticized the appropriation of intermittent fasting by the diet and weight loss industry, highlighting that fasting has historically existed in various cultures. She advocated for a sustainable approach to weight loss, emphasizing the importance of consuming local and seasonal food, cooking at home using traditional methods, engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a consistent sleep routine, and cultivating positive relationships.

On the other hand, Dr. David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School professor, spoke at the India Today Conclave and shared his perspective on fasting. He suggested that skipping at least one meal a day can activate a set of genes called sirtuins, which may help protect the body against the damage caused by the aging process. Dr. Sinclair personally adopts the practice of not consuming a substantial meal until dinner, followed by a healthy vegan meal with minimal alcohol.

In conclusion, intermittent fasting remains a subject of debate in the field of nutrition. While some experts express concerns about its potential harms and emphasize the importance of sustainable habits, others, like Dr. Sinclair, highlight potential benefits related to cellular mechanisms and the aging process. As the effects of fasting can vary depending on individual factors such as body structure and

Description : Intermittent fasting (IF) has sparked debates regarding its effectiveness and potential risks. While some experts argue for its benefits, celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar warns of harms such as muscle and bone loss, reduced gastric emptying, and dependence on caffeine. She suggests focusing on sustainable habits and local, seasonal eating. Meanwhile, Harvard professor Dr. David Sinclair supports skipping meals to activate protective genes against aging. With differing opinions, the impact of IF may vary based on individual factors.

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