Research on Intermittent Fasting
Are you considering intermittent fasting to lose weight?
This article summarizes 8 recent studies and academic papers about intermittent fasting that were published in 2020.
The majority of the research suggests that fasting is safe for most people and has other considerable health benefits, including weight loss.
Why is fasting good for you?
One primary advantage of intermittent fasting is that most people have success losing body fat. However, there are many other positive factors that should be highlighted.
First, we will focus on the benefits of fasting and its impact on diabetes, cellular health, and mental health. Next, we will cover other positive influences on cardiovascular health, weight reduction, and metabolism. Finally, we will conclude with some key takeaways from the research and suggest dietary options.
All references are provided at the end of the article if you wish to explore more details on the specific studies.
Insulin Levels, Cell Health, and Mental Health
A Brazilan study done on mice indicates that intermittent fasting improves insulin signaling and decreases cell apoptosis (Marinho, Borges, Aguila, and Mandarmin-de-Lacerda, 2020). Cell apoptosis is a process that occurs when old damaged cells are replaced by healthy cells with stronger immunity.
In the study, obese mice were put on an alternating schedule of 24-hour fed/fast cycles. These findings suggest that similar fasting regimens may be equally beneficial to people and diabetics. Moreover, fasting may also promote healthy cell regeneration.
Positive Effects for Diabetics
Other research by Guinto (2020) shows that type-1 and type-2 diabetics who try intermittent fasting to lose weight, with assistance from their healthcare practitioner, showed decreased body weight and lower blood glucose levels.
In fact, the research stated that patients can fast for 2 consecutive days (per week) or every other day (per week) to achieve the same results.
For example, depending on their preference, patients could choose to intermittent fast on Monday and Tuesday. On the other hand, they could fast on Monday and Wednesday and still have the same benefits.
Healthy Body, Healthy Brain
What’s more, the diabetic patients who participated in the aforementioned research not only showed improved cardiovascular health but they also reported signs of improved mood and mental health.
Another recent literary review by Carrero (2020) also emphasizes similar benefits of intermittent fasting. The literature states that it promotes autophagy, improves gut health, and increases lifespan.
Furthermore, it is recommended for cancer patients undergoing treatment. Other protective benefits of intermittent fasting can help prevent metabolic disease and neurodegeneration.
With further focus on the brain, another 2020 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders analyzed the impact of diet on mental health specifically. The research showed that a 20% reduction in food consumption while fasting for 12 to 16 hours per day may improve the microbiome.
As a result, a dietary change could potentially improve the psychiatric condition of patients. The study also emphasized that consuming the Mediterranean diet and a diet containing low-inflammatory foods were associated with lower rates of depression.
Cardiovascular Health and Weight Loss
A growing body of evidence outlined by Abdellatif and Sedej (2020) supports the idea that intermittent fasting benefits cardiovascular health. This, in turn, promotes longevity, reduces obesity risks, and protects against diabetes. Several figures in the study show that the typical Western diet and eating schedule lead to early-onset chronic disease and heart complications.
In contrast, time-restricted eating and alternate-day fasting significantly lower these prevalent health risks. This suggests that (1) the frequency of time spent eating throughout the day as well as (2) the amount of food consumed throughout the day both correlate to our overall health.
Further research published in The American Journal of Medicine suggests that intermittent fasting could possibly reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease. In addition, it helps with cholesterol, weight loss, hypertension, and diabetes. All of these health benefits appear to be achieved by reducing oxidative stress, modifying circadian rhythms, and activating ketones.
Liver Function and Metabolism
Chinese academic research done on mice showed positive effects on liver function. Mice put on a 12-hour intermittent fasting cycle for 1 or 2 months reduced total food consumption. This significantly reduced the weight of the liver and lowered blood glucose levels. Since the size and weight of the liver was reduced, it improved the liver’s metabolism.
Consequently, this promotes healthy liver function which helps break down fats and produce energy more efficiently.
Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight vs. Other Dietary Options
People typically want to know which diet is the healthiest. Freire (2020) indicates that not all diets suit everyone the same. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to choosing the right diet. She states that intermittent fasting diets, high-protein diets, and low-carb diets all promote weight loss in the beginning.
Be cautious when implementing a diet over the long term. Essentially, it is important to focus on a diet that promotes nutritious and healthy food choices.
Conclusion: Is Fasting Good for You?
To sum up, there is a growing body of evidence showing that intermittent fasting has significant health benefits. Most specifically, it is worth considering if you are diabetic since it can help regulate blood sugar.
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to improve cellular health, cardiovascular health, and mental health. Furthermore, it can potentially facilitate weight loss, regulate the gut microbiome, and improve liver metabolism.
Despite all of the positive results from the recent research, always remember to consult a physician before starting a new diet plan. You should adopt a diet that is sustainable for your lifestyle, appropriate for your body, and attainable for your health goals overall.
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Abdellatif, M. and Sedej, S. (2020). Cardiovascular benefits of intermittent fasting. Cardiovascular Research, 116, 36-38.
Carrero, K. (2020). A Literature Review On Intermittent Fasting. Senior Honors Theses, 999.
Fond, G., Young, A. H., Godin, O., Messiaen, M., Lancon, C., Auguier, P., and Boyer, L. (2020). Improving diet for psychiatric patients: High potential benefits and evidence for safety. Journal of Affective Disorders, 265(1), 567-569.
Dong, T. A., Sandesara, P. B., Dhindsa, D. S., Mehta, A. M., Arneson, L. C., Dollar, A. L., Taub, P. R., and Sperling, L. S. (2020). Intermittent Fasting: A Heart Healthy Dietary Pattern? The American Journal of Medicine, 133(8), 901-907.
Freire, R. (2020). Scientific evidence of diets for weight loss: Different macronutrient composition, intermittent fasting, and popular diets. Nutrition, 69(1).
Guinto, A. (2020). The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting on Patients with Diabetes Mellitus Mellitus. Physician Assistant Studies, 6.
Ma, J., Cheng, Y., Su, Q., Ai, W., Gong, L., Wang, Y., Li, L., Ma, Z., Pan, Q., Qiao, Z., and Chen, K. (2020). The effects of intermittent fasting on liver physiology and metabolism in mice. Research Square.
Marinho, T. S., Borges, C. C., Aguila, M. B., and Mandarim-de-Lacerda, C. A. (2020). Intermittent fasting benefits on alpha- and beta-cell arrangement in diet-induced obese mice pancreatic islet. Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, 34(3).