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Not So Fast

Intermittent Eating’s Go & No

does intermittent fasting work

By John Salak –

Fasting is hot and probably getting hotter with each day. In fact, it is estimated that at least 10 percent of Americans fast at some point every year for various health reasons.

These benefits would include everything from reducing blood sugar, fighting inflammation, combating high blood pressure, helping to control weight gain and increasing hormone secretion. Healthline reports that fasting may even help prevent neurodegenerative disorders.

Proponents now have another reason to cheer. German researchers now claim that fasting at the start of a diet may accelerate weight loss and put individuals on a healthier life track.

The report by the Max Delbruck Center in Berlin is more than just good news for those looking to slip more quickly into a tight pair of jeans or a bathing suit. Its findings may be critical to combating metabolic syndrome, a medical cluster you-know-what that confronts perhaps a quarter of the population.

Suffering from this syndrome means dealing with obesity, high blood pressure, lipid metabolism disorder and diabetes all at once. Worse still, many of these problems increase the chance of severe cardiovascular conditions, such as heart attack and stroke.

One obvious approach to tackling these combined forces is through exercise and a low calorie, healthy diet. German researchers, however, found that by starting with a fast, individuals under threat can yield fast track healthy results.

“Switching to a healthy diet has a positive effect on blood pressure,” noted first author Andras Maifeld. “If the diet is preceded by a fast, this effect is intensified.”

The German researchers came to their conclusions after studying to groups of at-risk individuals. Both groups went on a Mediterranean style diet for three months, although one section fasted for five days before starting their diet.

Gut bacteria apparently changed drastically during fasting, generated bacteria that helped reduce blood pressure. Some of these positive changes remained in effect even after these individuals stopped fasting.

“Body mass index, blood pressure and the need for antihypertensive medication remained lower in the long term among volunteers who started the healthy diet with a five-day fast,” explained researcher Dominik Müller.

The fasting benefits don’t end there, however. The approach may also help people who don’t seem to be getting any benefits at all from a Mediterranean style diet plan.  The center’s research  may, in fact, show that these individuals have insufficient gut bacteria in their gut microbiome to generate the results they need.

“Those who have this problem often feel that it is not worth the effort and go back to their old habits,” Müller explained. That’s why starting with a fast may be a good idea in general. “Fasting acts as a catalyst for protective microorganisms in the gut. Health clearly improves very quickly and patients can cut back on their medication or even often stop taking tablets altogether.”

Unfortunately, while fasting may help accelerate some nutritional benefits and aid dieting, the University of Sydney found that tummy fat is particularly resistant to fasting. In fact, waistline pudge goes into something of a self-preservation mode when confronted with a fast.

Using state-of-the-art instruments, university researchers discovered that fat around the stomach, which can accumulate into a ‘protruding tummy’ in humans, was found to go into ‘preservation mode’, adapting over time and becoming more resistant to weight loss.

“While most people would think that all fat tissue is the same, in fact, the location makes a big difference,” said senior author Dr Mark Larance. “Our data show both visceral and subcutaneous fat undergo dramatic changes during intermittent fasting,” he added.

Larance’s research team announced its findings after examining fat tissue types from different locations to understand their role during every-other-day fasting, where no food was consumed on alternate days.

Theoretically, fat tissue is should shrink during fasting as it provides energy to the rest of the body by releasing fatty acid molecules. However, the Australian researchers found that visceral fat became resistant to this release of fatty acids during fasting.

“This suggests the visceral fat can adapt to repeated fasting bouts and protect its energy store,” he said. “This type of adaptation may be the reason why visceral fat can be resistant to weight loss after long periods of dieting.”

Not surprisingly, Larance noted their research had created a foundation that needs to be built on  in the future to address resistant fat. Unfortunately, for now, those looking to shrink down a clothing size or two will have to embrace alternative weight-loss methods than fasting.

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