Posted on Mar 31, 2020, 7 p.m.
A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that intermittent fasting strategies may be healthier than previously thought, and this diet strategy has substantial scientific evidence to back it up.
Intermittent fasting is more than just a fad according to research, and it can be done in a variety of ways but the two most common types are daily time restricted eating and 5:2 intermittent fasting according to Mark Mattson, Ph.D at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Time restricted eating allows a person to eat only within a certain window each day, and the 5:2 strategy involves being limited to just one moderate sized meal on two days a week.
Mattson has studied intermittent fasting for over two decades and has practiced it for almost as long according to a release in which he says the new article is to help provide some clarity to the science and uses for the diet lifestyle choice.
Notable benefits have been observed to cellular health in both animal and human studies which may be due to alternating between fasting and eating causing the body to switch between using readily accessible sugar based fuel and burning fat for energy, according to Mattson.
This switch is suggested to help with blood sugar regulation and lowering inflammation in some studies such as two studies involving 100 overweight women following the 5:2 strategy of intermittent fasting, who were observed to lose more belly fat and have better insulin sensitivity than those who just reduced their calories.
Human and animal studies have shown intermittent fasting to help lower blood pressure, blood lipid levels and resting heart rates, which are all good for long term health.
"We are at a transition point where we could soon consider adding information about intermittent fasting to medical school curricula alongside standard advice about healthy diets and exercise," Mattson says.
Researchers do not fully understand the specific mechanisms of metabolic switching, and some people are either unable or unwilling to adhere to the regimes. But with guidance and patience most people can incorporate intermittent fasting into their lives, although it does take time for the body to adjust and move beyond the initial pangs and irritability.
"Patients should be advised that feeling hungry and irritable is common initially and usually passes after two weeks to a month as the body and brain become accustomed to the new habit," Mattson says. To get past the initial hurdle Mattson suggests gradually increasing the duration and frequency of fasting periods over the course of a few months.
Mattson says that despite all of the positive research showing benefits even more research is needed and that intermittent fasting may not be a viable option for certain people. But in the grand scheme, especially in the plethora of diet trends at least intermittent fasting has some science to back it up.
Materials provided by:
Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.