A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism conducted by an international team of researchers headed by Slaven Stekovic outlined the benefits of a new diet regimen called alternate day fasting or ADF that could rival calorie restriction diet.
Several studies have documented the benefits of calorie restriction. Non-human species on calorie-restricted diets exhibited slowing of the biological aging processes, thus resulting in an increase in both median and maximum lifespan. Other species on the same diet demonstrated improved cardiovascular health and weight loss.
Calorie restriction may not be sustainable because it requires constantly restricting calorie intake. Nonetheless, researchers S. Stekovic et al. presented alternate day fasting as a new way of intermittently restricting calorie to achieve the same health benefits of calorie restriction.
Explaining and Understanding the Effectiveness of Alternate Day Fasting
The research centered on a randomized controlled trial study involving 60 healthy and non-obese participants who volunteered to undergo an ADF program over a four-week period. The program was a diet regimen in which the participant avoided intake of food and calorie-containing beverages for 36 hours, then eating whatever they want for 12 hours.
Results revealed that the participants lost an average of 4.5 percent of their body weight while also demonstrating improvements in their fat-to-lean ratio after the four-week ADF program. They also showed improvements in torso fat composition, cardiovascular health parameters, and cardiovascular disease risk.
Further results showed that while on the 36-hour fasting periods, pro-aging amino-acid methionine, among others, were periodically depleted, while polyunsaturated fatty acids were elevated. Long-term ADM also exhibited reductions in the levels of the age-associated inflammatory marker called sICAM-1, low-density lipoprotein, and the metabolic regulator triiodothyronine.
Alternate day fasting also appears to be safe to practice for several months. Stekovic et al. noted that no adverse effects occurred even after more than six months of under the ADF program. Hence, the study shed light on the physiological impact of ADF and its safety, thus suggesting further that this diet regiment could eventually become a clinically relevant intervention program for addressing weight issues, cardiovascular disease risks, and metabolic disorders.
Summary and Takeaways
The following are the benefits of alternate day fasting, as well as its implications and considerations:
• ADF involves avoiding intake of any food and calorie-containing beverages for 36 hours, then consuming whatever food for 12 hours.
• S. Stekovic et al. showed that a four-week ADF decreases the body weight by 4.5 percent and improves the fat-to-lean ratio.
• They also showed that the diet regimen could help improve cardiovascular health as evident from how it improved cardiovascular parameters and CVD risks.
• ADF also slows down the aging process. It depletes methionine during the fasting days while long-term ADF reduces the levels sICAM-1.
• For healthy, non-obese adults, alternate day fasting is safe to practice for several months. However, individuals interested to practice ADF should first consult their physicians
FURTHER READING AND REFERENCE
- Stekovic, S., Hofer, S. J., Tripolt, N., Aon, M. A., Royer, P., Pein, L., … Madeo, F. 2019. “Alternate Day Fasting Improves Physiological and Molecular Markers of Aging in Healthy, Non-Obese Humans.” Cell Metabolism. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.07.016