"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Does Intermittent Fasting Improve Heart Health?

Fasting—or intentionally not eating—dates back to precedent days when people fasted in hopes of curing an illness or for religious reasons. Today, various types of fasting are popular for his or her potential health advantages, including weight reduction and improved cardiovascular risk. A recent review article suggests some potential advantages (see “Intermittent Fasting: The Latest Evidence”). But timing isn't all the things—you continue to must listen to the general quality and quantity of your food.

Intermittent fasting involves a variety of strategies to limit the timing and frequency of eating. A variation, timed eating, involves eating only during a particular time window (often eight hours) in a day. For example, you simply eat between 9am and 5pm after which nothing for the remaining 16 hours.

Another approach, alternate-day fasting, involves fasting for a whole day or significantly restricting calories. You select specific days throughout the week whenever you eat nothing or limit yourself to only 400 to 600 calories. On other days of the week, you follow your usual eating pattern. In one popular version, the 5:2 weight loss plan, you eat normally for five days, but restrict your calories for 2 consecutive days. With alternate-day fasting, you eat a calorie-restricted weight loss plan every other day.

Intermittent fasting: the newest evidence

One method to estimate the effect of a weight loss plan or other therapy is to pool the outcomes of many alternative randomized trials, called a meta-analysis. Another version – called an umbrella review – goes a step further by combining the outcomes of many alternative meta-analyses and other review articles.

That's what a team of researchers did with intermittent fasting. Review of their umbrella, within the April 2024 issue E. Clinical MedicineCombined results from 23 meta-analyses and reviews of intermittent fasting, which included mostly individuals who were chubby or obese and a few with diabetes or metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that result in heart disease, stroke, and diabetes) increase risk). The control groups varied but included a calorie-restricted weight loss plan, a weight loss plan common to specific cultures, and a habitual weight loss plan (what the participants normally ate).

Researchers have found good evidence that intermittent fasting can reduce

  • waist circumference
  • Thick skin
  • Triglycerides
  • LDL and total cholesterol
  • Fasting insulin (the hormone that controls blood sugar levels)
  • Systolic blood pressure (the primary number within the blood pressure reading).

Advantages and drawbacks of fasting

Intermittent fasting may help improve levels of cholesterol and other heart risk aspects since the practice promotes weight reduction. Due to time constraints, you naturally are likely to eat fewer calories, especially should you stop eating late at night. Also, whenever you don't eat for long periods of time, your body switches fuel away from carbohydrates and starts burning stored fat.

It's hard to maintain up.

“The biggest problem with intermittent fasting is that it can be difficult to maintain long-term,” says Dr. Yerevanian. Most exercise studies have lasted only 12 to 16 weeks, although some have gone so long as six months. It's easier to persist with a weight loss plan whenever you're being watched closely as a part of the study, he says. But in the actual world, it's often difficult to persist with a strict meal schedule whenever you're also juggling various work, family and social commitments.

“I've seen timed diets be most successful when people are willing to make extensive lifestyle changes to improve their health,” says Dr. Yerevanian. Instead of relying solely on intermittent fasting, they use it as a tool to alter other facets of their lifestyle which can be affecting their weight and heart risks. Along with a healthy, plant-based weight loss plan, regular aerobic and strength-building exercise, and routine preventive care, intermittent fasting generally is a protected and effective method to improve your cardiovascular health. .

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