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Intermittent Fasting May Be All the Rage, but it’s Not Right for Everyone

Written by Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery   Last modified on December 21, 2020

Have you heard of intermittent fasting? It’s the latest craze when it comes to eating; or not eating, as the case may be.

More than a diet and with benefits far exceeding weight loss, intermittent fasting is believed by many to be the key to longevity; but it’s not an appropriate approach for everyone, including people who have undergone weight loss surgery.

empty plate fasting

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for several diet types that alternate between feasting and fasting. There’s the 16:8 Method which involves fasting every day for 14 – 16 hours. The 5:2 method that involves eating normally 5 days of the week, while restricting calories to 500 – 600 on two days a week. And the Eat-Stop-Eat plan which calls for a 24-hour fast, once or twice per week. (These are just a few popular iterations of intermittent fasts.)

study in Nutrition and Health Aging suggests that the 16:8 diet can reduce weight and lower blood pressure. In this study, fasters ate 350 fewer calories, lost about 3 percent of their body weight and saw their systolic blood pressure decreased by about 7 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). And research out of Harvard University  found that fasting can increase your life span, slow aging and improve your health by altering the activity of mitochondrial networks (the energy centers within our cells). Basically, intermittent fasting keeps these networks in a more “youthful” state, the researchers reported.

While there is a lot of hype and hope about intermittent fasting, it’s not for everyone, cautions Shawn Garber MD, “Intermittent fasting is of no benefit to weight loss surgery or any patients considering it,” he says. “It is important to eat three small meals a day to keep the metabolism going,” he says. “Liquid protein diets are a better option because patients drink three shakes a day, keep metabolism going and feel full.”

And as for the longevity benefits seen with fasting in some studies, similar benefits can be said about weight loss surgery. Multiple studies have shown that bariatric surgery can extend life largely by eliminating obesity-related illnesses. Check out these conditions that are related to obesity. A study in JAMA of about 20,000 people with severe obesity and type 2 diabetes who underwent bariatric surgery or received traditional medical care for diabetes found that those in the surgery group had a much lower risk of heart attack and stroke than their counterparts who did not have weight loss surgery.

For more reading, check out: Is bariatric surgery a cure for diabetes?