It seems that every time we log onto Facebook or turn on the television, we are being told about the health benefits of a new diet. There are entire meal plans that can be delivered straight to your door and tons of options for meal replacements including bars and shakes. There are high protein-low carb diets, the keto diet, and of course, intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a nutrition plan that involves timed fasting and has gained tremendous popularity over the past few years. A recent review article published in the New England Journal of Medicine looks in detail at the benefits of this dieting strategy.
Some follow the 5:2 model, in which they fast for two days during the week and consume whatever they want in the other 5 days. Others fast for a set period of hours each day and then eat whatever they want for the remaining hours. Both of these are ways of intermittent fasting. The theory is that fasting forces our body to use and break down fatty acids and ketones as a source of energy, improving metabolism and promoting weight loss.
Researchers found that not only does intermittent fasting help with weight loss, but it may also help reduce your risk of developing diabetes and improve your cardiovascular health. Studies in mice have shown this diet can help increase life span by allowing cells to better respond to oxidative damage and may also improve tumor sensitivity to chemotherapy.
With any nutrition plan, it is important to eat nutritious and well-balanced foods and to ensure you are meeting your caloric needs. As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with different diets and nutrition recommendations. It is reassuring to see a popular diet that actually has strong evidence to support it. If you are interested in learning more about the science behind intermittent fasting, check out the article by Dr. de Cabo and Dr. Mattson!
De Cabo, R & Mattson, MP. Longo, DL Ed. (2019). Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. The New England Journal of Medicine, 381(26), 2541 – 2551.
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