Adapted from Medscape, What do we know about intermittent fasting by Carla Martinez Nov 28 2022
A session was dedicated to intermittent fasting at the 63rd Congress of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology.
In animal studies it has been shown that the same number of calories consumed in the morning result in greater weight loss/less fat deposition compared to when the same number of calories are consumed in the late afternoon or evening. Results in humans are less consistent though. My comment: perhaps because they watch television and have well stocked cupboards and fridges!
In humans who ate late, they reported twice as much hunger as the early eaters and energy expenditure and body temperature both reduced by 5%. Thus early eating seems to be more favourable.
Intermittent fasting regimes can very greatly in the window of opportunity allowed for feeding. Researchers found that being consistent with whatever schedule they followed resulted in reduced body weight, an improvement in metabolic efficiency, sleep duration and sleep quality, cardiovascular health, level of mood and quality of life. My comment: so many of us work variable shifts or have different wake and sleep times, feeding times and exercise patterns on work days compared to off days.
Caloric restriction with a generous ten hour eating window resulted in weight, blood pressure and lipid improvements in people who had metabolic syndrome. Even in healthy subjects such as firemen who worked 24 hour shifts, limiting food intake to ten hours resulted in a reduction in HbA1c, LDL and diastolic blood pressure.
Dr Labayen is working on the Extreme Project which is testing obese people from Navarra and Grenada in Spain. There are 200 subjects, evenly spread between men and women, and they are advised to follow a Mediterranean diet and consume all their food within an 8 hour eating window. They are divided into early eaters, late eaters and free choice of eating window eaters. How easy the diet is to maintain and its effectiveness on body measurements and any side effects are being measured.
So far there have been fewer side effects than expected with night time hypoglycaemia more pronounced in the early eating group. There is more fat and muscle loss in the time restricted eating subjects compared to a control group who are not restricting their eating time, and the window time has not made any difference. Cardiovascular factor improvement seems to be the most noticeable effects.
Rafael de Cabo PhD, on the other hand primarily works with animals, particularly monkeys and mice. Perhaps, as these animals are not free to cheat on their diet, the effects have shown to be much better than in humans. Fasting has been shown in animals to improve cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. A smaller eating window produces more positive effects than a larger window. Circadian rhythms improve, they eat fewer calories overall, weight and body fat reduces, blood pressure, oxidative stress, inflammation, and arteriosclerosis all are reduced. Hunger is also reduced. These effects occur whether the animals are obese or not. The difficulty is transferring these results to the general public. Currently there are at least 50 human trials underway with increasingly larger cohorts and different forms of intermittent fasting are tried out.
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