That person in the kitchen at work who used to be on the 5:2 is now on the 16:8, isn't she?
They all are. People in work kitchens across the country are now proudly announcing that they are doing the 16:8 (perhaps simplified to the "2:1" by the maths teachers making such proclamations while waiting for the staff room microwave), the 16 hours off, eight hours on diet which is said to improve will power, and aid weight loss.
Should we all unionise our stomachs for an eight-hour working day?
A recent small study published by the University of Illinois last month yielded positive results.
The study saw 23 obese people commit to eating only between the hours of 10am and 6pm. Compared to a control group, participants on average consumed 350 fewer calories each day over the 12-week study, losing 3 per cent of their body weight.
So, should we all unionise our stomachs for an eight-hour working day?
The University of Newcastle's Professor Clare Collins, accredited practising dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, says that, although the 16:8 diet has some benefits, it is "not a sustainable diet in the long-term".
"Intermittent fasting is another dieting approach, that can be added to the category of 'weight-loss diets,'" she explains. "They are for weight loss and intended to be short- to medium-term."
While the diet is useful in preventing snacking after dinner and helping people to be more mindful of how and what they eat ("it can be helpful for people to know the kitchen closes"), Professor Collins says there is a quite significant flaw in any diet that claims you can eat "whatever you want".
"It doesn't mean that you are eating healthily, because [the diet] is cutting down the time you are eating, but it doesn't change your eating habits."
As for whether the 16:8 is a better option than the 5:2, Professor Collins says it depends on the person.
"For some people that severe energy restriction [on the fast days of the 5:2 diet] could exacerbate mental health problems, if you suffer from anxiety, for example," she says, adding that she would not recommend intermittent fasting to people who have "any history of disordered eating".
"Then, the 16:8 diet is not good for any people who are on medication that needs to be consumed with food or at set times."
On the whole, Professor Collins says that, if you are overweight or obese, the 16:8 diet could be a good way to get started. But there needs to be a next step, preferably through a consultation with a health professional.
"In the long term, you need to think about how you can transition to healthy eating patterns in general that mean the weight stays off."
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