Can Intermittent Fasting Improve Your Heart Health?
With all the diet and exercise programs out there, some of the oldest and most effective ways of eating have been forgotten or aren’t as publicized as they should be. One such diet is known as intermittent fasting, a thousand-year-old concept. Intermittent fasting involves not eating for some time. Some patients opt to only eat during a narrow set of hours during the day, while others will fast for an entire day or more periodically. Either way, the idea is to remove food from the diet for an extended period to promote metabolic health.
But Does an Intermittent Diet Truly Work?
The short answer is that intermittent fasting can help improve overall health by assisting patients in losing weight, which is an excellent result for those with a higher risk of heart disease, including those with metabolic disease or excess weight issues. In theory, long-term intermittent fasting should do wonders for your health. This is achieved because intermittent fasting does not slow your metabolism as dramatically as continuous caloric restriction. It can also improve insulin sensitivity for better weight loss, hormonal balance, and sleep.
The Practicalities of Intermittent Fasting
While intermittent fasting is an excellent option for some patients willing and able to follow it, the realities of dieting are somewhat different. If the patient is used to eating high fat, high sugar foods and drinks, the most effective and fastest way to improve their heart health would be to eliminate the worst offenders and moderate their consumption of other food. In other words, there’s plenty we can all do before starting a new diet program. Similarly, if these patients are not exercising or continue to smoke, they will damage their hearts, no matter their dietary program. So, we can build on these dramatic improvements early on with a longer-term intermittent fasting program.
Intermittent Fasting Is Not for Everyone
For those with existing cardiovascular disease, it is essential that you speak to your cardiologist before trying intermittent fasting. While most patients will have no issue following the requirements, they should not begin a new dietary program without proper supervision. If cleared for intermittent fasting, you should also follow the program carefully. Trying to push harder can increase the risk of problematic results or weight regain if you cannot maintain the diet over the longer term.
Keep Taking Your Medications Until Otherwise Advised
Following an intermittent fasting schedule while improving your diet and exercise program may feel fantastic. The likelihood is that many of the markers of metabolic disease will improve during this period. However, you should not stop any of your medication without your cardiologist’s explicit approval and oversight. Some medicines need to be tapered, while others should not be stopped.
Most importantly, we want to help you stop or slow the progression of your heart disease. If intermittent fasting is part of that plan, we will be happy to discuss those options and help ensure that you experience no ill effects from pursuing this new program. We encourage you to bring up intermittent fasting or any other dietary program you may be considering at your next appointment.
We look forward to seeing you in the office soon.