Intermittent Fasting Helps Prevent Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Lowers Cholesterol

Eating 5 or more meals a day is great for weight gain, but not so good for weight loss, and is not optimal for good health.

We already know that increased meal frequency does not increase the metabolism or decrease appetite. In fact eating more than 3 meals each day can often lead to increased calorie consumption over time, because people eventually get bored and tend to begin to ignore their meal portions, which results in overeating.

Conversely, we know that fasting tends to decrease your appetite once you get past that first 6 hour fasting window. We also know that intermittent fasting lowers insulin resistance and blood pressure, and promote lightening-fast weight loss. Knowing those facts, here are a couple more great reasons to switch to an Intermittent Fasting lifestyle, for good health and efficient fat loss.

First, The Study Results

To keep you interested, we’ll talk about the research results first, then we’ll look at the studies.

New studies on periodic fasting by the American College of Cardiology have determined:

  • periodic intermittent fasting seems to reduce the risk of falling victim to type 2 diabetes by 50%
  • intermittent fasting also decreases your risk of developing heart disease
  • HDL cholesterol increases during an intermittent fast
  • triglycerides decrease during an intermittent fast
  • human growth hormone (HGH) levels increase during a fast, leading to weight loss and muscle gain
  • HGH increases by a factor of 20 in men and a factor of 13 in women, on average


Lead researcher Benjamin Horne notes:

“Your body goes into self-protection mode to preserve the integrity of cells and tissue until food starts coming in again, so it uses fats instead of glucose for fuel.”

In an earlier study, the American College of Cardiology had also previous found that those who fast for at least one day each month, have a lower chance of developing coronary heart disease.

The Study

This study included 200 Mormon residents of Salt Lake City, Utah. If you didn’t know, most Mormons tend to fast for 24 hours at least once a month for religious reasons, making them perfect long-term candidates for this study.

For a couple of the studies, including those measuring the probability of developing cardiovascular disease, the study participants who were chose, were not regular intermittent fasters. This gave the researchers a better indication of the immediate positive effects of fasting on cardiovascular blood markers like cholesterol. These subjects did not eat or drink anything other than water for 24 hours.

While there were many positive finding made about the usefulness of intermittent fasting for good health, Horne still made the observation that:

“Fasting is not a quick fix, it’s a long-term lifestyle that you integrate into your normal life and do it for the duration.”

Who Should Not Fast

Intermittent fasting is great for nearly everyone, however precaution should be taken with people who have a significant medical contraindication. For example children should probably not fast, and if they do, they should be closely monitored by a physician. Pregnant or lactating women should also avoid fasting, as they pretty much need any and all nutrients they can get,

Learn more about Intermittent Fasting with the Project Swole 3-part series, starting with the Intermittent Fasting Primer

Resources:
Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet.

Routine Periodic Fasting Is Good for Your Health, and Your Heart, Study Suggests

The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomized trial in young overweight women.

The effect of eating frequency on appetite control and food intake: brief synopsis of controlled feeding studies.

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6 Responses to “Intermittent Fasting Helps Prevent Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Lowers Cholesterol”

  1. Ok I am confused. This is essentially the opposite of what I thought was true. This article basically states that eating 5 or more meals is not good for weight loss. But I thought by eating less meals throughout the day your metabolism slows down more and will go into starvation mode. Thus holding onto the food longer rather than processing it through your body quickly as energy?

    I am a little worried because I’m technically trying to lose weight. I am 5’8” currently 214lbs fluctuating weekly between 211-215lbs. I am trying to get down to about 180lbs. I have this idea that I will look better at that weight but I think if I ended up a little heavier but replaced body fat with more lean mass I’d be ok with that. I have a decent build but I’m at between 27% and 30% body fat.

    Anyways I have been eating 5-6 meals a day trying to cap my calories between 1800 and 2100. But I am not having a huge amount of success in losing overall weight and I don’t know if I’m gaining muscle or what. But I just thought, reading this article, that this type of diet would be counterproductive. I am looking for a long term diet solution. I try to mix in as much lean meats (fish/chicken), veggies, and fruits as possible throughout the day as well a serving of peanuts once in awhile and drinking protein shakes. I count calories so I try not to exceed my limit. Would this type of diet really be that much more successful?

    • I have been writing about the 6 small meals/snacks style of dieting for years. I’ve even had lots of success with it. However, in light of recent studies and a TON of success stories, I am switching most of my dieting strategies to an intermittent fasting style. My recent HCG diet post is a great example. Your other options include Leangains and Eat.Stop.Eat. Or you could take matters into your own hands by combining your current 1800 calories worth of small meals, into 2 or 3 big meals, which you would eat within a 6-8 hour window. The other 16-18 hours of the day would be straight fasting – water, coffee, tea only, no sugar, no dairy. There is some evidence that an amino acid pulse when you wake up is beneficial to muscle gain, but I’m not confirming that quite yet. Also, the starvation-mode theory that says if you don’t eat your body will burn muscle for fuel and store any extra calories as fat, is garbage. Your metabolism just doesn’t work that way. Don’t blame yourself though. Even I bought into those theories up to about a year ago.

      • Well I have to say I’ve expanded my knowledge of workouts an incredible amount by referring to this website. And I certainly trust your opinions. It just completely blew my mind for what I was programmed to believe was fact since I started working out. I will take some time tonight and study/read up on the intermittent styles and give it a whirl.

        I know what you mean about the success with 5-6 small meals. I am down from 245 to where I’m at now with basically this diet method and doing fullbody routines with HIIT. I had tore my hamstring in February and was out of the workout game till the end of March. Ended up keeping my weight steady because of the diet I have been doing but I can’t seem to get any lower now. This sounds like a good change of pace.

  2. I think fasting is a difficult thing to do when your working as you need something to keep you going in the day. Mym mum fasts for religious reasons twice a week,and she is healthier compared to my dad who doesnt fast. So fasting possible could work and I may try ths out!

  3. I can confirm the significant reduction in appetite if you go for fasting. I kept actually the ketogenic diet a couple of times and kept a meals diery. I’m amazed how little I was eating, as I remember not being hungry at all….

    However, I noticed that the body adapts lightening fast to the “regular” type of diet, as well. After having getting back to larger portions and to carbs (too soon), it was not easy to take carbs out when I tried to do this 3 months later.

    Coming back to fasting, I think the most difficult part is right at the beginning, when you do feel hungry. Are you using any particular appetite suppressant foods to ease getting started?

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