Alternate day fasting reduces belly fat, LDL cholesterol: Study

Research shows that alternate day fasting may have a positive effect in terms of reducing belly fat and lowering cholesterol levels.

Myupchar September 06, 2019 13:26:30 IST
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Alternate day fasting reduces belly fat, LDL cholesterol: Study
  • Research shows that alternate day fasting may have a positive effect in terms of reducing belly fat and lowering cholesterol levels

  • Researchers found that the ADF group got all the benefits of calorie-restriction — including improved blood pressure and lower risk for heart disease — plus advantages like curtailing the action of pro-ageing amino acid in the body on fasting days

  • Researchers also reported that up to six months of ADF did not have any significant downside

Alternate day fasting (ADF) is a new trend in the weight-loss world. Now, there’s research to show that it may have a positive effect in terms of reducing belly fat and lowering cholesterol levels.

On 27 August, researchers from the University of Graz in Austria argued in an article in Cell Metabolism, a peer-reviewed journal, that four weeks of ADF improved cardiovascular markers, and reduced heart rate and blood pressure.

Alternate day fasting reduces belly fat LDL cholesterol Study

Plus, they wrote, following a strict ADF diet for six months, could lower LDL levels (LDL or low-density lipoproteins is also known as the bad cholesterol).

The research

The researchers selected 60 healthy participants for a four-week trial, and randomly allocated them in the ADF group and a control group. The control group followed their usual diet. However, the ADF group participants fasted for 36 hours followed by 12 hours of eating without restrictions. Researchers monitored their blood sugar to make sure that the ADF group did not snack or drink sweetened beverages on fasting days.

Researchers found that the ADF group got all the benefits of calorie-restriction — including improved blood pressure and lower risk for heart disease — plus advantages like curtailing the action of pro-ageing amino acid in the body on fasting days. The ADF participants had:

  • Lower levels of amino acids like methionine (which is pro-ageing) on fasting days
  • Higher levels of ketone bodies (a product of fat metabolism) even on non-fasting days
  • Lower levels of triiodothyronine hormone, without impaired thyroid gland function - previous research has associated lower levels of triiodothyronine with increased longevity
  • Reduced belly fat and lower cholesterol levels
  • Lower levels of soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, which adds to longevity

Researchers also reported that up to six months of ADF did not have any significant downside. They noted that bone-mineral density and white blood cell count remain unaffected, while ADF helps in cell regeneration by activating autophagy - a kind of natural clean-up of dead cells.

India’s weight problem

According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, the proportion of Indian women aged 15-49 who have a body mass index or BMI of more than 25 is 31.3% in urban areas and 15% in rural areas. And the proportion of Indian men aged 15-49 who are overweight or obese is 26.3% in urban centres and 14.3% in rural areas.

Body mass index is a measure of weight to height ratio. Doctors recommend that this figure be in the range of 18.5 to 24.9 in both men and women. A BMI of over 25 indicates overweight and obesity.

Study after study has shown links between obesity and diabetes, obesity and hypertension, and obesity and cardiovascular disease. India has a high incidence of all three. In fact, these lifestyle diseases are slowly overtaking infectious diseases as the leading causes of death in India.

In a country such as ours, where religious fasting is common, making fasting a way of life is not a new recommendation. From religious leaders to nation-builders like Mahatma Gandhi, many great men — and women — have touted the benefits of fasting for calorie restriction and overall good health. The ADF diet — and it’s easier cousin, intermittent fasting — are simply tweaks on age-old fasting methods, and may offer benefits beyond weight loss.

There are, however, caveats. The research at the University of Graz focused primarily on healthy individuals - the researchers wrote that intermittent fasting may be a better option for people who are obese. Additionally, long periods of fasting is not recommended for people living with diabetes as well as pregnant women. Here are some things to keep in mind before you decide to try the diet:

  • Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease patients should not follow strict ADF
  • Even healthy practitioners should ease into the fast: start by skipping breakfast and lunch. Extend this to a 24-hour fast. In a few days, when you’re comfortable, go without food for 36 hours
  • Stay away from sweetened beverages on fasting days - they can induce hunger. Drink hot water instead, it will help you to feel less hungry
  • Keep yourself hydrated. Drink lots of water and stay relaxed. Try to avoid any strenuous work on fasting days

Also read: Scientists now believe that a ketogenic diet may help stall the spread of certain types of cancer

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/weightloss

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