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Cardiometabolic syndrome is a constellation of disorders that includes insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, abnormal blood lipids, high blood pressure, and obesity. People who have cardiometabolic syndrome are more likely to die from heart disease or experience a heart attack or stroke than those without the syndrome. Findings presented in a recent review suggest that intermittent fasting improves aspects of cardiometabolic health in people who have obesity.

Intermittent fasting, an umbrella term that describes periods of fasting between meals, elicits physiological responses similar to those induced by exercise. Intermittent fasting is not a diet that determines what a person eats; rather, it is an eating pattern that determines when they eat. A growing body of evidence suggests that intermittent fasting extends healthspan and lifespan.

The authors of the study reviewed data from 33 studies investigating the health effects of various patterns of intermittent fasting. These patterns included alternate-day fasting, time-restricted eating, and 5:2 intermittent fasting.

They found strong evidence that people who practiced intermittent fasting lost 1 to 8 percent of their body weight and decreased their dietary intake by as much as 30 percent (comparable to that achieved with caloric restriction) compared to their baseline, regardless of type of pattern they followed. Those who practiced intermittent fasting also experienced reductions in blood pressure, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, LDL, and triglycerides. Weaker evidence indicated that intermittent fasting improved appetite regulation and gut microbial diversity. The authors concluded that intermittent fasting is safe for most people.

These findings suggest that intermittent fasting is a safe dietary pattern that helps people lose weight and improves cardiometabolic health in people with obesity. Learn more about the beneficial health effects of intermittent fasting in this episode featuring Dr. Mark Mattson.

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