Experts React: Intermittent fasting research

RMIT experts have commented on the controversial new research suggesting intermittent fasting could increase the risk of dying from heart disease. Dr Kaitlin Day, Lecturer in Human Nutrition said,  “There are conflicting results about intermittent fasting in the scientific literature, partly due to the different types of intermittent fasting.

“There’s time restricted eating, which limits eating to a period of time each day, and which the current study looks at. There are also different patterns of fast and feed days, such as the well-known 5:2 diet, where on fast days people generally consume about 25% of their energy needs, while on feed days there is no restriction on food intake.

“Despite these different fasting patterns, systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) consistently demonstrate benefits for intermittent fasting in terms of weight loss and heart disease risk factors (for example, blood pressure and cholesterol levels).

“RCTs indicate intermittent fasting yields comparable improvements in these areas to other dietary interventions, such as daily moderate energy restriction.

“RCTs directly compare two conditions, such as intermittent fasting versus daily energy restriction, and control for a range of factors that could affect outcomes. So they offer insights into causal relationships we can’t get through observational studies alone.

“However, they often focus on specific groups and short-term outcomes. On average, these studies follow participants for around 12 months, leaving long-term effects unknown.

“It’s likely the relationship between eating timing and health is more complex than simply eating more or less regularly. Our bodies are controlled by a group of internal clocks (our circadian rhythm), and when our behaviour doesn’t align with these clocks, such as when we eat at unusual times, our bodies can have trouble managing this.”


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