The first noteworthy diets were created in the early eighteenth century. Doctors like George Cheyne and John Rollo published the first essays aimed at those suffering from obesity and diabetes, helping people find ways to reduce their weight without depriving them of necessary nutrients. Still in print today, the first diet to receive mainstream recognition was called ‘Banting’, named after the mortician who created it, William Banting, in 1863. All diets are designed around the same central principle; in order to lose weight, one must consume less calories than they burn off throughout each day. Which foods should be consumed or avoided remains a subject of debate amongst nutritionists, and as a result, dozens of diets have become popular and faded to obscurity over the years.
Dieting fads have become dime a dozen in today’s society. Now more than ever, people are concerned with losing weight and achieving levels of personal fitness usually seen by models and actors, not the average nine to five worker. Popular culture bombards us with images of the skinny and the beautiful, to the point where the concepts are intertwined in our subconscious thoughts. This obsession with losing weight has led to the development of an entire industry of dieting plans and supplements for weight loss. Every year there seems to be a new best-selling book about the best diet to lose weight in a short amount of time without developing unhealthy eating habits. This allows authors and publishers to make millions, praying on the self-esteem and body image issues of generation after generation.
The newest of these dieting fads to gain popularity in the last few years is known as intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a general term, encompassing various diets which involve cycles of fasting and non-fasting periods. There are two primary types of this kind of diet plan, the first involving whole days of fasting and the second involving limited periods of fasting during the day. Whole day fasting is almost entirely self-explanatory. It consists of regular 24-hour periods of fasting, with only specific beverages such as water or tea allowed to be consumed. The most extreme form of the whole day fasting diets is called alternate day fasting, in which every other day is a day where no calories are supposed to be consumed.
The second type of intermittent fasting diets is far more popular and is commonly known as time-restricted feeding. In this method of dieting, typically eight hours out of the day are allocated for eating during a 24-hour period. Another common trend is to only consume one meal a day instead of three, or to spend half of the day fasting and the other half eating. Intermittent fasting requires a level of discipline not necessary in most other diet plans and can be draining for those who lead physically active lifestyles. Despite that, recent research shows that it is not only a reliable method of somewhat rapid weight loss but can also help mitigate symptoms of a variety of health conditions.