Issue 20

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In this issue:


  • Intermittent fasting: does it really work?

  • A common disease that you've probably never heard of.

  • Zoom fatigue is real. Science says so.

  • Dogs, robots, and pandemic lockdown hobbies.


Chosen by our Leak Curators

Raise your hand if you're getting your beach bod ready for the summer.

We’re certainly trying, but going on a diet can be a real drag. In recent years, a new type of dieting technique called “intermittent fasting” (IF) has been in vogue, with everyone from Jack Dorsey to Jennifer Anniston giving it a shot. The TL;DR is that you’re supposed to limit the hours at which you eat (for instance, no food between 8 pm and noon) in order to lose weight.

Does it work?

Some studies have produced promising results, but it’s unclear whether intermittent fasting is any better than just regular calorie restriction, especially in the long-run. A year-long clinical trial tried to put this question to bed.

The experiment: Researchers divided volunteers into two groups. One group was instructed to restrict their calorie intake while making sure that they only ate between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. These were the intermittent fasters. The second group simply had to go on a regular diet and limit their calories, with no time restrictions (aka the control group). The researchers checked in with the volunteers every month to track their weight loss journey.

What did they find?

While the intermittent fasters did lose a teeny bit more weight in the first few months, by the end of the year, they were no different from the controls. In other words, people who restricted their calories but not their eating times were as successful at shedding those unwanted pounds as the intermittent fasters.

But my mom swears by intermittent fasting!

We’re not saying she’s wrong. This study doesn’t show that IF doesn’t work — it only shows that IF doesn’t help you lose more weight than if you just reduced your total calories. And who knows — maybe sticking to an IF routine does psychologically help your mom refrain from grabbing that late night chocolate bar, thereby reducing her caloric intake.

So should I try IF?

The truth is, there aren’t many easy answers when it comes to weight (and people who claim otherwise are usually lying). Bodies are unique and complicated. What matters more than anything is knowing your own body, and figuring out what works for you.

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The Leak: Intermittent fasting is all the rage, but it may not be all that different from any other diet. That said, if you think it’s right for you, then who are we to disagree?


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Ever had a doctor be stumped by your symptoms?

A lot of ladies can relate, thanks to an extremely unpleasant condition called endometriosis that affects 10% (aka a LOT) of women worldwide. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and even infertility. There’s really no other way to say this — endometriosis sucks.

Why haven’t I heard of it before?

Aside from the usual reasons (the patriarchy 👀), endometriosis is often overlooked because it can only be diagnosed with surgery. And while the symptoms are painful and disruptive, they can vary a lot between women.

What actually happens in endometriosis?

Tissue similar to the lining on the inside of the uterus starts to grow outside of the uterus (which explains why doctors need to surgically grab a sample to make a diagnosis). It can also cause other harmful changes, such as accumulation of scar tissue. Scientists are still debating how endometriosis causes infertility. A recent study found that women with endometriosis had lower levels of certain immune molecules needed to prep the uterus for pregnancy, which might explain some of these symptoms. But a lot remains unknown.

Wow, so we’re still figuring it out?

Unfortunately, there simply isn’t that much research on this condition (sexism, much?). Women are often told their period pain is normal, and it can take years to get a diagnosis

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The Leak: You may think that endometriosis doesn’t affect you, but you probably know someone who has it. Wanna make a difference? You can help by spreading the word and reducing the stigma around women’s reproductive conditions (while the scientists do their bit on the research).

Thanks to Kaity Haj guest writing this story for us! Want to get involved? Sign up as a Leak Curator.


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Zoom fatigue is real, y'all.

If you feel like you can't think during Zoom meetings, you’re not alone. A new study shows that virtual communication curbs the generation of creative ideas.

That checks out.

In the experiment, researchers paired up volunteers over Zoom and assigned them several creative problem solving tasks. Not only did these virtual pairs generate very few total ideas to begin with, but their ideas were pretty uncreative as judged by their peers. Instead of coming up with slam dunks, virtual pairs spent a lot of time just looking at their partner’s video feed (honestly, we’re guilty of the same).

It’s just no fun interacting with a pixelated face on a screen.

Also true. Another recent experiment shows that the blurrier your video call gets, the louder you’re likely to speak. That might explain why your Zoom “meetings” feel like they last forever and leave you feeling exhausted.

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The Leak: Zoom just doesn’t hit the spot when it comes to creativity and ease of communication. Guess in-person work might have some value after all (even though some of those meetings could definitely have been emails).


Who's a good boy?

Literally every dog ever, regardless of their breed. A new study shows that contrary to popular belief, a dog's breed has very little impact on their behavioral traits. The one exception? Border Collies are WAY better at following commands than almost any other dog breed out there (although we already knew that).


We all developed some weird hobbies during lockdown.

These scientists decided to build a 3D printed device to pull apart Oreo cookies and study the fluid dynamics of their cream filling. Why? Well, why not?


The high jump record for humans is 2.45 meters.

This robot absolutely smokes that number, achieving jump heights 15 times as high (yes, there’s a video).


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