There was some research on intermittent fasting recently conducted and published right here in our Louisiana backyard out of Baton Rouge.
Pennington study: Eat early, fast late in day to improve blood sugar control, blood pressure
Fasting research is few and far between in regards to measuring its effects on actual humans and not just rats or other animals then correlating and speculating how that will affect us as a species. Yet, while their findings, in my opinion, are fantastic and educate the public on the benefits of fasting, I think the Advocate missed some important points while pushing this information out to the public domain.
Below I will dive a bit further into a few key points that I believe they missed and give a bit of explanation regarding how everyone can utilize this data for their own n=1 experimentation as they figure out what works best for their unique body and lifestyle.
1. If you have never dabbled with fasting before, it might not matter what time of day you attempt it.
We all fast at some point during every 24 hour period. Those out there who don't sleep and eat constantly either are attempting to break some kind of Guinness World Record or have some debilitating psychosis. Either way, we did not evolve eating ALL of the time. And for good reason.
But if you are used to eating from sun up to sun down and you decrease that eating window by 4-6 hours at any point during the day, you are likely to experience some health benefits.
2. "Late at night" doesn't really tell us much in regards to the timing of our meals.
The researches state that "eating late at night is bad for your metabolism." Yet, in the real world, most people have different routines and eating schedules. What exactly do they mean by late at night? If they mean that eating a large, highly processed meal consisting of Taco Bell or McDonald's, around midnight or 2 a.m., then yes I agree. But I have had hundreds of clients move their largest meal of the day to dinner and claim to feel way better than eating a particularly large breakfast. And that is only from a subjective standpoint. Their sleep data and body fat percentage also reflect significant improvement.
3. We just can't use "eating" and "insulin spiking" interchangeably.
What do I mean by that? Well, what this particular research seems to show is that by closing your eating window, the "pre-diabetic" (more on that next) subjects seemed to have improved insulin sensitivity and improved blood pressure. Yet, I would be willing to bet that if you took someone who eats cereal for breakfast and replace that with fish and veggies, you would see a similar improvement. But why? Well it might not have as much to do with "eating" as it does with the meal's effect on insulin. Spike blood sugar enough and (if you are fortunate) insulin is sure to follow to regulate your blood glucose. But if the meal contains primarily fat and fiber, you will NOT see the same insulin levels as you do with eating cereal. So it isn't as important to "not eat" as it is to choose a meal that effects your hormones as you intend for it to.
4. The subjects were already "pre-diabetic"
And, finally, this one is important. The subjects were already insulin "insensitive". That means that they required more insulin to lower their blood sugar. People who are insulin sensitive, require very little insulin to regulate their blood sugar after a meal. Those who continue to trigger insulin spikes all day (by consuming carbs, sugar, and excess amounts of protein) will essentially desensitize themselves until they cannot appropriately regulate their blood sugar levels and need assistance from medication or insulin injections.
Not to mention that the majority of people out there with hypertension (high blood pressure) suffer from one or either of two things:
- Extreme Perceived Stress
- Hyperinsulinemia (increased insulin levels in the bloodstream over a period of time)
So, what happens when you take a handful of men that are already walking around with too much insulin in their bloodstream due to their excessive need to produce more and more insulin in response to their consistent fluctuating blood sugar and you all of a sudden decrease the window of time that they produce it? You end up with a group of blood sugar that is better regulated, improved triglyceride levels, and thus improved blood pressure.
In summary, bravo Pennington! The world needs this research. Please continue shattering the existing faulty American dietary paradigm. But, in regards to the readers, be skeptical and remain curious as you trial all of the different dietary approaches on yourself. There is NO one size fits all.
Want Help Deciding on Where To Start with Intermittent Fasting?
If you are looking for more instruction on how or where to start with fasting, check out this helpful IF Calculator.
If you are looking for more day to day guidance in regard to your diet or health issues, click below and find out about more what we do at HPHI:
Want to know more about what we do at HPHI? Check out the video below or schedule a free consult to start on your individualized health journey!