The “fast” way to outsmart heart disease

On the heels of yesterdays discussion about clinical nutrition and ketogenic diets, I’d like to share some new research on another approach I’ve touted here before: fasting.

Intermittent fasting (IF), as you’ll commonly see it referred to, is fasting for 24 to 48 hours on consecutive or alternating days. And it can work in a number of ways.

Usually, it simply involves alternating days of “normal” calorie intake with days of significant caloric restriction. (Fewer than 600 calories for men, and fewer than 500 calories for women.) But it can also take the form of designated eating “windows” in your day — usually restricted to four to eight hours during which you have your meals.

A newer iteration of the IF strategy relies on a 5:2 approach, where any two days in a single week are fasting days. And that’s the approach that this latest study — recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition — used.

Researchers set out to see what kind of impact 5:2 fasting has on the body’s ability to clear post-meal fat and sugar from the blood, compared to more conventional methods of caloric restriction. And it’s worth noting that this is the first study of its kind to look at the overall effect on blood markers, in a non-fasting state.

Overweight subjects followed either a 5:2 plan or one that cut 600 calories daily. (For women in the study, that added up to about 1,400 calories per day — and around 1,900 for men.) In order to stay in the study, they had to lose five percent of their body weight.

Roughly 20 percent of the subjects dropped out, because they couldn’t keep up with the diet or they didn’t lose the weight. Of the remaining participants, both groups met their goal — but the fasting participants did so in 59 days compared to the conventional dieters’ 73 days.

And that’s not the only significant difference researchers found.

Fasting participants also cleared post-meal blood triglycerides more quickly than non-fasting dieters. And while glucose metabolism appeared the same between both groups, there were some apparent differences in insulin secretion that warrant further investigation.

Results also showed larger drops in systolic blood pressure — that’s the top number — among fasting participants. This group saw reductions of nine percent, compared to two percent increases among non-fasting dieters.

And that’s enough to significantly reduce risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Intermittent fasting will always be one of my favorite tricks of the trade. Not least of all because pretty much anybody can manage it — and like ketogenic dieting, the payoff is well worth any effort it takes.

I covered some of the latest on fasting research back in the September 2016 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives. Subscribers have access to that in my archives — and a whole lot more. So if you haven’t signed up yet, there’s no day like today.

PS. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on an online learning tool full of all-natural strategies for heart health. It will be released this summer, so stay tuned here for updates.