Eating balanced daily is essential. However, taking a break and “eating light” can have health benefits, whether to rest our digestive system, reduce calorie intake, remove certain foods from our habits, or lose weight . At the extreme, there is also fasting. This practice, known since the dawn of time, exists in various forms.

A study in Canada, published Oct. 17, 2017 in Cell Research , shows that intermittent fasting helps fight obesity. Researchers are studying why sporadic fasting periods can be beneficial for metabolism.

Intermittent fasting is a periodic energy restriction. This practice has proven to provide health benefits that are equivalent to prolonged fasting or calorie restriction . The present study reveals some previously unrecognized mechanisms, and suggests that intermittent fasting may be a preventive and therapeutic approach against obesity and metabolic disorders.


A research team from the Hospital for Sick Children in Ontario, Canada, reveals important new information about fasting, which has been revived in recent years but must be practiced correctly by its followers.

Up to sixteen weeks of intermittent fasting – without having to count calories – helps combat obesity and other metabolic disorders. This fast already shows benefits after only six weeks. According to the study, intermittent fasting can boost metabolism and burn fat by generating body heat.

Research has shown that our unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles play a major role in the development of lifestyle – related metabolic diseases such as diabetes , heart disease and obesity . For this reason, dietary interventions like intermittent fasting are gaining popularity to treat conditions such as obesity.


The research team in this study wanted to better understand the reactions that interventions such as fasting trigger at the molecular level in the body. They exposed groups of mice to sixteen weeks of intermittent fasting. The recurring diet saw the animals being fed for two days, followed by a day with nothing to eat. Their caloric intake was not adjusted otherwise. Four months later, mice in the fasting group weighed less than those in the control group who continued to eat the same amount of food.

The lower body weight of mice in the fasting group was not the only effect. The fasting diet has helped to reduce fat accumulation in white fat by increasing brown fat (involved in burning energy and producing body heat) from mice on the high-fat diet. Their glucose and insulin systems have also remained more stable. In another experiment, similar benefits have already been observed after only six weeks of intermittent fasting.

Through accurate analysis, the researchers found that this intermittent fasting tempered an immune reaction in fat cells. Changes in certain gene pathways involved in the immune system and in the body’s reaction to inflammation appear.

A type of white blood cell known to play a role in the fight against inflammation is triggered. Known as anti-inflammatory macrophages (monocytes), these cells stimulate adipose cells to burn stored fat or lipids by generating heat. This occurs during periods of intermittent fasting because there is an increase in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that helps to form blood vessels and activate anti-inflammatory macrophages.

Finally, the researchers conclude that intermittent fasting without reduction of caloric intake can be a preventive and therapeutic approach against obesity and metabolic disorders. Surprisingly, these fast-stimulated changes in vascular cell growth and subsequent immune alterations occur even after a single 24-hour fasting cycle and are completely reversed when mice start eating again without fasting.

© Blog Nutrition Health – Jimmy Braun – October 2017

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