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  • Writer's pictureDr. Michelle Parsons

Intermittent Fasting Lowers Triglycerides More Than Regular Dieting

For those of you on our weight loss program, here is some information showing that there are even more benefits from intermittent fasting. A small, new study on intermittent fasting, as in the 5:2 diet (restricting calories to 500 2 days a week), showed that this approach reduced triglyceride levels by 40% after meals, compared with a conventional, daily calorie-restricted diet in healthy but overweight/obese individuals.

Presenting her work here at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference (DUPC) 2019, Rona Antoni, PhD, from the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, who is also a practicing dietitian, said: "Following a 5% weight loss, the intermittent fasting [5:2] diet, but not continuous energy restriction, led to significant improvements in postprandial triglyceride responses."

"If you do this repeatedly, then this could potentially be beneficial in people with raised triglycerides," she explained, highlighting that this is the first time such an effect has been observed in humans. 

"The obvious question here is why did metabolic responses [in the intermittent fasting group] differ to the continuous energy restriction group? This is still under investigation, but it is perhaps unsurprising that a dietary approach that involves frequent periods of fasting may make the body more efficient at  metabolizing/clearing fat from a meal," she remarked.

Comparing Metabolism Between Different Diets but With Equal Weight Loss

The main emphasis of the study was on postprandial metabolism, considering that most prior studies have looked at metabolism in the fasting state, she explained.

"We spend three quarters of our day in a postprandial fed state, and impairment in postprandial glucose and lipid metabolism are independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease," remarked Antoni.

In this real-world setting, "We wanted to find out if intermittent energy restriction offers any distinct metabolic advantages over and above its effects on body weight."

Also assessed were changes in body composition and time taken to achieve the 5% weight-loss goal.  

Intermittent Fasting Led to Quicker Weight Loss

Antoni noted it took the intermittent fasting group [5:2 diet] less time to reach the 5% weight loss endpoint — a median of 59 days — than those on a modest daily calorie restriction, who took a median of 73 days to achieve the same goal.

"There were comparable improvements in adiposity and waist/hip circumference, and no differences were seen in fasting glucose or lipid profiles," she said.

The key finding from the study was that metabolic differences between weight loss via these two diets only became apparent in the postprandial period, she stressed,

A 5% weight-loss via the intermittent (5:2) diet led to a significant reduction in postprandial triglycerides, but this was not seen in the other group.

"The frequent bouts of fasting may offer very distinct metabolic advantages when compared to continuous dieting approaches," Antoni said.

"This shows that the intermittent diet is better at reducing postprandial triglycerides and highlights potential applications, especially in people who already possess elevated fasting (or nonfasting) triglycerides."

And from a dieter’s perspective, "The main appeal of this type of intermittent energy restriction…is that they need not 'energy restrict' every day," she concluded.

We have definitely seen success in our patients who have employed intermittent fasting for faster and safe weight loss. What better time to start intermittent fasting than during Lent, with health and spiritual benefits all around! - Dr. Michelle Parsons.

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