As the very extravagant diet plan supported by the rich and famous of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, intermittent fasting has reached its peak in popularity in recent years.
But experts fear that the restrictive regime – a religion-like followed by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and actresses Jennifer Aniston and Vanessa Hudgens – could be a dangerous cover for eating disorders.
“A wolf in sheep’s clothing,” registered dietitian Tammy Beasley told The Post. “I wish it would put a warning on intermittent fasting.”
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Touted as a weight loss and maintenance strategy, the buzzed whim suggests eating at certain times of the day or in one of its more rigid forms, weekly. It was the most searched diet of 2019 on Google and was the second most searched diet after keto in 2020.
The program leaves people lighter and improves their health, according to a 2019 review published in the New England Journal of Medicine. But more recent research published by JAMA Internal Medicine last year found that it was no more effective than the average diet for fighting flab.
Yet the conflicting information did not delay the growing number of devotees, and many took it to the extreme. Variations include alternate day fasting, periodic fasting, and so-called time-restricted feeding. Dorsey, for example, is known to only have one meal a day between 6:30 and 21:00, and he doesn’t routinely eat during the weekend – so he claims he’s more focused.
The busy habits of the 44-year-old billionaire inspired event planner Kristin White to attempt intermittent fasting in November 2018.
“I am easily impressed and I thought, ‘If it works for a high-flying businessman like him, I should,” said the 54-year-old Seattle resident.
By only allowing him to eat between 3 and 22 pm, White consumed the same fare every day: a boiled egg with apples, grilled chicken and vegetables for dinner, followed by a protein bar or a little peanut butter aid before bed.
The self-described 5-foot perfectionist dropped 15 pounds in six weeks and was injured weighing 112 pounds. However, his “success” had a price.
“I struggled with my focus and it was pretty scary to be around,” White said. Even worse, during his annual checkup, the doctor detected an eerily low heart rate and advised him to seek help.
“I struggled with my focus and it was pretty bad to be around.”
In April 2019, he entered an Alsana residential treatment center in California where eating disorder was handled by staff, including Beasley, vice president of clinical nutrition services. Happily, the person recovering from anorexia and orthorexia is now in a much healthier weight and mindset.
“Intermittent fasting was another excuse for in-depth knowledge of controlling my body,” White said. “But it made everything faster for me.”
Indeed, the trendy diet can lead to risky behaviors, said Lynn Slawsky, executive director of the National Society for Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders.
“Your body goes hungry while fasting,” said Slawsky. “People can develop binge eating disorder or bulimia as a result, which can lead to all sorts of other physical and psychological problems.”
He added that the diet can be particularly triggers for vulnerable populations who are already prone to spoiled food and act as a cover.
“This is an easy way to explain why you don’t want to go to dinner or consume calories at a party,” Beasley said. “You can time-stamp it: ‘I am intermittent fasting and this is not my window. Either it reduces and distracts the root cause of your fear of eating or participating in that activity. ”
Maria Rupprecht, 26, former Alsana customer, quickly fell into the trap of intermittent fasting, which she believed effectively masked her dysfunctional approach to food.
“I thought ‘This is socially acceptable,'” he told The New York Post. “The whole world was doing what professionals tell me was unhealthy.”
The 1.5-meter nanny refused all meals and snacks between 7pm and the next afternoon and lost 40 pounds in three months. He recorded his lowest weight at 125 kg in 2016.
“I missed my friends’ birthdays and graduation parties because I didn’t want to eat outside of my time slot,” Rupprecht, who was eventually diagnosed with anorexia, said.
Now in recovery and at a healthy weight, the newlywed St Louis manages his relationship with food successfully and prepares to qualify as a licensed professional consultant in October 2022. Meanwhile, he warns of how the potential risks associated with intermittent fasting are. The competitive nature of Type A students has likely worsened.
“I would compare myself to others,” Rupprecht said, describing how he felt pressure to stretch his hours without sustenance. “ My window would end at 19:00, but then I would have a friend to do just that. [eat] Between 13:00 and 15:00
“I have a few friends in that world and [still] not diagnosed. ”