Can intermittent fasting help if you have high blood pressure? A recent study reveals the answer.
Throughout human history, fasting has been presented in various forms. One of the most talked-about diet trends in 2017 was intermittent fasting. Common methods include alternate-day fasting, whole-day fasting (e.g., the 5:2 diet approach), and time-restricted fasting.
Researchers from the University of Surrey recently ran a small study – published in the British Journal of Nutrition – where 27 overweight participants were assigned to either the 5:2 diet or a daily calorie-restriction diet and told to lose five percent of their weight. The 5:2 method involves eating normally for five days and restricting calories to 600 calories on two fasting days.
Participants who followed the 5:2 diet cleared fat (triglyceride) after meals quicker and saw a nine percent reduction in systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats, rather than the resting pressure, known as your diastolic blood pressure.
Some participants struggled with following the diet. This suggests that the 5:2 method is not suitable for everyone. In general, there can be serious health concerns involved with any type of fasting. You should consult your physician before starting any diet.
Intermittent fasting would be difficult to follow for those who eat every few hours and is not appropriate for those who have diabetes or eating disorders (such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa); are adolescents, pregnant, or breastfeeding, or take medications that require food intake. Potential risks include overeating when food is reintroduced and possibly promoting unhealthy behaviors like an increased fixation on food.
Although more research is needed to understand its underlying mechanisms and improve the tolerability of the 5:2 diet, unlike most diets, it translates pretty easily into a lifestyle change. Ultimately, the key to dieting success is finding an approach you can maintain long term.
For those who do well on the diet and are able stick to it, the 5:2 could possibly have real health benefits relating to important risk indicators for cardiovascular disease, more so than restricting calories every day, in some occasions.
“There’s now scientific evidence to suggest there are real health benefits to fasting — and they’re not just related to weight loss,” Rosie Fitzmaurice, businessinsider.com, March 19, 2018.
“Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss,” hsph.harvard.edu, accessed April 13, 2018.