How Safe Is Alternate-Day Intermittent Fasting? 

Eating every other day can increase cholesterol.

Are Are there any disadvantages to fasting every other day? For example, you could go Does going without food all day affect your ability to think clearly? Surprisingly, as I explain in my video Is alternate day intermittent fasting safe?, the results appear to be “equivocal.” Some studies show no measurable effects, and those that do fail to agree on which cognitive domains are affected. Could fasting and feasting cycles cause eating disorder-like behaviors, such as binge eating? So far no harmful psychological effects have been observed. found. In fact, there may be some benefit. However, studies that have specifically tested it excluded those with a documented history of eating disorders, for whom the effects may differ.

What about bone health? No changes in bone mineral density were observed. noted after six months of alternate-day fasting despite a weight loss of approximately 16 pounds, which would normally result in a drop in bone mass. However, the researchers also did not notice any skeletal changes in the control group and they lost a similar amount of weight through continuous calorie restriction. They suggested this is because both groups tended to be “more physically active than the average obese American,” taking between 1,000 and 2,000 more steps per day.

Advocates of intermittent fasting suggest may better protect lean body mass, but most intermittent trials have employee less precise methods of body composition analysis, while most continuous calorie restriction trials used “much more precise techniques.” So to date, is It is not clear if there is a difference in the preservation of lean mass.

Improvements in blood pressure and triglycerides have been observed. noted in intermittent fasting regimens, although this is presumed to be due to reduced body fat, as the effect appears to be “dependent on the amount of weight lost.” Alternate-day fasting can also improve arterial function, as you can see in the graph below and at 1:55 in my videoalthough it does depend about what you eat the day without fasting. For study participants randomly assigned to a high-saturated fat diet every other day, their arterial function got worse despite a ten pound weight loss, while improved, as expected, in the low-fat group. The decrease in arterial function was hypothesized to be due to the proinflammatory nature of saturated fat.


One concern has been increase on the effects of alternate-day fasting on cholesterol. After 24 hours without eating, LDL cholesterol may temporarily decrease bulk increases, but this is probably because fasting releases a lot of fat into the system. As you can see in the graph below and at 2:33 of my videoan immediate negative effect on carbohydrate tolerance may stem of the same phenomenon: the repeated elevations of free fat floating in the bloodstream. However, after a few weeks, LDL levels begin to decrease. drop as the weight disappears. However, the results of the largest and longest trial of alternate-day fasting have given I pause.


One hundred obese men and women were random in one of three groups: modified alternate-day fasting (25 percent of your starting calories on fasting days and 125 percent of calories on eating days), continuous daily calorie restriction (75 percent of starting calories) or a control group that was told to maintain their regular diet. So those who entered the trial and consumed 2,000 calories a day would continue to consume 2,000 calories a day in the control group. The calorie restriction group would consume 1,500 calories each day, and the intermittent restriction group would alternate between 500 calories a day and 2,500 calories the next day.

As you can see in the graph below and at 3:32 in my videowith the same overall average prescribed calorie reduction in the two weight loss groups, both lost about the same amount of weight, but, surprisingly, the effects of cholesterol were different. In the continuous calorie restriction group, LDL levels decreased as expected compared to the control group as they lost pounds.

But, in the modified alternate day fasting group, they didn’t, as you can see below, and at 3:55 in my video. At the end of the year, LDL cholesterol in the intermittent fasting group term being 10 percent higher than in the constant calorie restriction group, despite the same loss of body fat. Since LDL cholesterol is a leading causal risk factor for heart disease, our leading cause of death, or is Even the main risk factor: this strikes a hard blow against fasting on alternate days. If you want to try it anyway, I would recommend monitoring your cholesterol to make sure it goes down with your weight.


If you are diabetic, you must talk Consult your doctor about adjusting your medication for any dietary changes, including fasting of any duration. Even with proactive medication reduction, advice to immediately break the fast if sugar levels get too low, and weekly medical monitoring, people with type 2 diabetes who fasted even just two days a week were twice as likely to experience episodes of hypoglycemia compared to a person who did not fast. control group. We still don’t know the best way to modify blood sugar medications to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low on fasting days.

Even fasting for just one day can significantly improve slow eliminating some medications (such as the anticoagulant Coumadin) or increasing the elimination of others (such as caffeine). Fasting for 36 hours can reduce caffeine consumption by 20 percent. Therefore, checking with your healthcare professional before fasting is an especially good idea for anyone taking any type of medication.

If you missed it, take a look Alternate-day intermittent fasting put to the test.

So, with ambiguous cognitive, lean mass, and bone effects, plus these cholesterol findings, I wouldn’t suggest alternate-day fasting for weight loss, but weight loss isn’t the only thing this way of eating is supposed to accomplish. Verify Does intermittent fasting increase human life expectancy?.

To learn about other types of intermittent fasting, total fasting, and more about fasting, check out the related videos below.

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