Intermittent fasting has become the most popular and most followed dieting program in recent years. But as scientists try to look into its purported benefits, they also unearth some of its shocking drawbacks.

A new study published in the journal Appetite by Texas A&M University researchers found a link that surprisingly connects intermittent fasting to binge eating and other food disorders in the long run.

Since there hasn’t been that much research examining the associations of intermittent fasting with psychological factors, the team explored this area of the eating program. Specifically, they investigated the relationship between the diet and binge eating, impulsivity, intuitive eating and mindful eating.

“There wasn’t much information about the psychological effects of intermittent fasting — only its impact on medical outcomes like weight and cholesterol. I was interested in seeing whether this specific form of time-restricted dieting, where people may ignore their hunger cues for extended periods of time, could also induce binge eating,” author Jordan Schueler, M.S., a Ph.D. candidate at the university, told Fox News Digital via an email.

For the study, Schueler and her colleagues sampled 298 undergraduates recruited through a large southwestern university psychology subject pool. The participants were grouped into three based on their intermittent fasting status: current, past and no. All were asked to complete questionnaires about their intermittent fasting status and food-eating behaviors.

After analyzing data from the participants, the researchers found that those who practiced intermittent fasting in the past were more likely to binge-eat than those who never tried the diet and those currently following the program. They said their findings add credence to the growing evidence against intermittent fasting.

“One explanation is that those who are actively engaging in [the diet] may still be ‘successfully’ engaging in rigidity and self-control around their eating behaviors. However, it is common to experience a rebound effect following severe caloric restriction, during which bing-eating occurs,” Schueler explained.

She added. “Our finding suggests that although [intermittent fasting] does not appear to be a risk factor for binge-eating while one is actively engaged in the diet, it may have lasting effects on one’s relationship with food.”

It is important to note that the study findings are limited due to the lack of diversity in its sample. Future longitudinal studies are needed to establish the directionality of the associations.

Binge Eating Disorder
Not to be confused with overeating, binge eating disorder is a rare but severe condition, associated with physical and psychological issues. Clinicians and researchers recently realized that a number of individuals with eating disorders didn’t necessarily fit neatly within the DSM-IV categories of anorexia and bulimia. Updating the former “eating disorder not specified,” the latest version of the DSM recognizes binge eating disorder as its own category, defining it by recurring episodes of consuming large quantities of food in a short period, followed by feelings of guilt, disgust, or lack of control. Life Mental Health, CC BY 2.0