Intermittent fasting is currently salient on the shortlist of generally short-lived dietary fixations. The first thing to say about this is that there should be no such list.
Where diet reliably contributes most to vitality, longevity, and, yes, weight control, it is because of cultural traditions, heritage, and the time-honored practices of generations, not the vagaries of news cycles and hyperbolic headlines. But because dietary fads perennially supplant science and sense, there is always a shortlist of fleeting fixations. Intermittent fasting is currently parked there, so let’s talk about it.
The value proposition for intermittent fasting is all about weight loss beyond the expectations of mere calorie restriction. Inevitably, the arguments for this approach assert or imply novelty and the discovery of something new and therefore shiny.
This is a standard approach to the marketing of any dietary tactic. The ketogenic diet, for instance, popular at present under that rubric, was the induction (and, thus, most impactful) phase of the Atkins diet. While popularized as if newly discovered, the diet has been with us through a sequence of temporary infatuations spanning nearly 50 years. Where attention spans are short, and news cycles frequent, it’s never long before what’s old is dusted off and introduced as if new again. But if these diets were so terrific in the first place, why did we fall out of love with them?
Throughout human pre-history, people ate when they could and starved when they must. Those days of want were periods of intermittent fasting not by choice, but chance, with weight control not an objective, but a constraint imposed by the challenges of foraging for survival.
The topic of old being new may be truer of intermittent fasting than anything else in the dietary realm because this approach is almost certainly the most ancient means of weight control, predating all others by many millennia. Throughout human pre-history, people…