Intermittent Fasting and Cardiovascular Health: AHA’s Recommendations and Studies
Intermittent fasting (IF) has become a popular way to lose weight, but the American Heart Association (AHA) has not offered a clear preference for frequent small meals or IF. According to the 2017 AHA scientific statement: Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, irregular patterns of total caloric intake appear to be less favorable for the maintenance of body weight and optimal cardiovascular health. A study published in the American Heart Association journal found that eating large meals was more beneficial than intermittent fasting.
The study, conducted by senior study author Wendy L. Bennett, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, evaluated the association between time from the first meal to last meal with weight change. Nearly 550 adults from three health systems in Maryland and Pennsylvania with electronic health records were enrolled in the study. The findings indicated that meal timing did not have an impact on weight change.
Furthermore, a study published in the journal ‘Diabetologia' found that intermittent fasting can lead to diabetes remission in those with a diabetes duration of more than 6 years (6-11 years). The study found that the total daily number of large meals (estimated at more than 1,000 calories) and medium meals (estimated at 500-1,000 calories) were each associated with increased weight over the six-year follow-up. However, fewer small meals (estimated at less than 500 calories) were associated with decreasing weight.
The AHA’s 2022 statistics indicate that 40% of adults in the U.S. are obese. The AHA's current diet and lifestyle recommendations to reduce cardiovascular disease risk include limiting overall calorie intake, eating healthy foods, and increasing physical activity.
However, a study published in the journal ‘Appetite' found that although IF does not appear to be a risk factor for binge-eating while one is actively engaged in the diet, it may have lasting effects on one's relationship with food. Senior author of the study, Dr. Wendy Bennett, suggests it is common to experience a rebound effect following severe caloric restriction, during which binge-eating occurs.
0. “Intermittent Fasting: Meaning, Benefits & Side Effects” The Quint FIT, 6 Feb. 2023, https://www.thequint.com/fit/intermittent-fasting-list-of-pros-and-cons
1. “Calorie restriction is more effective for weight loss than intermittent fasting: Study” The Tribune India, 12 Feb. 2023, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/health/calorie-restriction-is-more-effective-for-weight-loss-than-intermittent-fasting-study-479079
2. “Portion control beats intermittent fasting for weight loss: Study” Al Arabiya English, 12 Feb. 2023, https://english.alarabiya.net/life-style/healthy-living/2023/02/12/Portion-control-beats-intermittent-fasting-for-weight-loss-Study