Intermittent fasting — one of the most popular and promoted dieting techniques — may actually increase the risk of premature death.
A study of 24,000 Americans over the age of 40 found that those who ate one meal a day were 30% more likely to die from any cause within 15 years than those who ate three.
Intermittent fasting — which means eating within a strict time frame or skipping meals altogether — became one of the hottest diet tools in the early 2010s.
Celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian, Mark Wahlberg, Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Aniston say it helps them lose weight or detoxify their body.
Ironically, one of the main benefits cited by followers of the diet is longevity. It had previously been linked to a lower risk of multiple diseases.
In the latest study, skipping breakfast was linked to a higher risk of dying from heart disease, while skipping lunch or breakfast appeared to increase the risk of death from all causes.
The results remained even if people exercised, ate healthy, and rarely smoked or drank alcoholsay the researchers.
They say fasters usually end up consuming a relatively large amount of food all at once, which over time can damage cells in the body.
The team warns that it is still too early to say with certainty that fasting played a role in early deaths, as they cannot rule out other genetic and lifestyle factors.
Intermittent fasting — one of the most popular and promoted dieting techniques — may actually increase the risk of premature death (stock)
Celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian are followers of the diet – which involves eating within a strict time frame or skipping meals altogether
Jennifer Aniston (right) and Nicole Kidman (left) are two celebrities who reportedly used intermittent fasting
The latest study, conducted by researchers at the University of Tennessee, found that three meals a day was the sweet spot for a longer life.
But research has found that eating them too close together was also linked to an increased risk of premature death.
Like their fasting theory, the team believe that eating too much too quickly puts metabolic strain on the body.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves switching between fasting days and normal eating days.
Intermittent fasting diets generally fall into two categories: time-restricted eating, which reduces meal times to 6-8 hours per day, also known as the 16:8 diet, and intermittent fasting 5: 2.
The 16:8 diet is a form of intermittent fasting, also known as time-restricted eating.
Followers of the diet fast for 16 hours a day and eat whatever they want in the remaining eight hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
This may be more tolerable than the well-known 5:2 diet — where followers limit their calories to 500 to 600 a day for two days a week, then eat normally for the remaining five days.
In addition to weight loss, 16:8 intermittent fasting is believed to improve blood sugar control, boost brain function, and help us live longer.
Many prefer to eat between noon and 8 p.m. because that means they only need to fast at night and skip breakfast, but they can still have lunch and dinner, as well as some snacks.
When eating, it’s best to opt for healthy options like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
And drink water and unsweetened beverages.
The downsides of the fasting schedule can be that people abuse the hours they can eat, which leads to weight gain.
It can also lead to long-term digestive issues, as well as hunger, fatigue, and weakness.
Lead author of the new study, Professor Yangbo Sun, from the University of Tennessee, said: “At a time when intermittent fasting is widely touted as a solution for weight loss, metabolic health and prevention diseases, our study is important for the large segment. American adults who eat less than three meals a day.
“Our research found that people who ate only one meal a day were more likely to die than those who ate more meals a day.
“Among them, participants who skip breakfast are more likely to develop life-threatening cardiovascular disease, while those who skip lunch or dinner increase their risk of death from all causes.”
She added: “Based on these results, we recommend eating at least two to three meals spread throughout the day.”
In the study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diabeteshis team analyzed data from 24,011 people over the age of 40 across the United States.
They have already participated in a nationally representative survey that ran from 1999 to 2014 and asked them about diet, general health, illnesses and behaviors every two years. Forty percent of participants ate fewer than three meals a day, on average.
Their survey responses were linked to their medical records. In total, there were 4,175 deaths at the end of the study, 878 of which were caused by heart problems.
Compared to participants who ate three meals a day, eating just one meal was associated with a 30% increased risk of all-cause mortality and an 83% increased risk of death from heart disease.
People who skipped breakfast had a 40% increased risk of death from heart disease compared to those who didn’t, but there was no difference in all-cause mortality.
However, people who missed lunch or dinner were 12-16% more likely to die for any reason.
Meanwhile, people who ate three meals a day but had an average gap of less than four and a half hours between at least two of them had a 17% increased risk of all-cause mortality, compared to people who spaced their meals by five hours or more.
The study’s lead author, Dr Wei Bao, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa, said: “Our results are significant even after adjustments for dietary and lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol, physical activity levels, energy intake and diet quality) and food insecurity. .
Pictured above is Mark Wahlberg’s daily routine of fasting for 18 hours
“Our conclusions are based on observations drawn from public data and do not imply causation. Nevertheless, what we observed has a metabolic meaning.
Dr. Bao explained that skipping meals generally means ingesting a greater energy load at one time, which can compound the burden of regulating glucose metabolism and lead to further metabolic deterioration.
This may also explain the association between a shorter meal interval and mortality, since a shorter time between meals would lead to a greater energy load during the given period.
Dr Bao added: “Our research provides much-needed evidence on the association between eating behaviors and mortality in the context of meal times and the length of the daily prandial period.”