Sunday, May 27, 2018

Intermittent Fasting Can Benefit Weight Loss, Type 2 Diabetes and the Cardiovascular System

Investigations such as the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) trial and the Look AHEAD study have shown that a low calorie diet, physical activity of at least 150 minutes per week, and lifestyle modification can lead to beneficial weight loss. Both these studies highlight the importance of diet and physical activity. But it appears that diet is more important than physical activity – at least in the early stages of a weight loss program. Since diet is a key element in weight loss, weight maintenance, and overall health, a lot of research has gone into looking at different types of diets. One diet approach that has received much attention in the past years is the intermittent fasting (IF) diet.

Usually in the IF diet, an individual follows a very low or zero calorie plan for some days of the week, and a normal eating plan for the other days of the week. The IF diet has been shown to lead to weight loss, improvement in type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. One very popular version of the IF diet is presented in the book, "The FastDiet," sometimes referred to as the 5:2 diet.

In the book, Michael Moseley, the author, concludes that a man, trying to lose weight, can achieve weight loss by restricting his diet to 600 calories a day for two days. And that a woman, trying to lose weight, can achieve weight loss by restricting her diet to 500 calories a day for two days. On the remaining five days of the week, both the man and the woman should eat normally. This form of IF is apparently effective for some individuals as indicated by the reviews of Moseley’s book on Amazon.com.

Another version of IF is called alternate day fasting (ADF). In ADF, a person follows a very low calorie diet on alternate days of the week, while following a normal diet on the remaining days of the week. ADF may enable an individual to lose weight. Further, one study suggests that ADF might not only lead to weight loss, but the dieting approach can lead to improvements in type 2 diabetes.

And finally, a recent study has indicated that the 5:2 diet allows an individual to lose weight and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the study’s investigators “found that following weight loss, participants in the 5:2 group continue to eliminate fats (triglycerides) faster and more effectively than other volunteers. Scientists have also noticed a greater reduction in arterial systolic pressure associated with decreased risk of heart attack and stroke.”

So, healthcare providers might want to include IF among their weight loss tools. Not only could IF enable some patients to lose weight, but the weight loss approach might lead to improvement in type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.

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