Fasting diets could limit CVD risk by decreasing systolic blood pressure

New research published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests intermittent energy restriction diets clear fat from the blood more efficiently after a meal than regular calorie restrictive diets. They also saw a larger decrease in systolic blood pressure compared to the control, which can reduce risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).


In this first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Surrey in England assessed the impact the popular 5:2 diet has on the body’s ability to clear fat and glucose from the blood after a meal. Dieters on the calorie-restrictive 5:2 diet engage in regular dietary patterns for five days. For two days out of the week, they are allowed to only consume 600 calories.


The study cohort was randomly grouped into regular dieters and 5:2 dieters. All study subjects were required to lose 5 percent of their weight. While the 5:2 dieters used meal replacement food packs for the two fasting days, regular dieters were asked to eat 600 calories less per day than their estimated requirements for weight management.


The study subjects on the 5:2 diet achieved 5 percent weight loss in 59 days and the regular dieters achieved the required weight loss in 73 days.


Approximately 20 percent of the study cohort dropped out of the study as they either could not tolerate the diet or were unable to lose the 5 percent weight loss required. There were 27 participants who completed the diet.


Upon completion of the diet, researchers noted the study subjects who followed the 5:2 diet cleared the fat from a provided meal more efficiently than regular dieters. Additionally, there was also a 9 percent reduction in systolic blood pressure in the 5:2 group and only a 2 percent change in the regular dieters.


“As seen in this study, some of our participants struggled to tolerate the 5:2 diet, which suggests that this approach is not suited to everybody. Ultimately the key to dieting success is finding an approach you can sustain long-term,” said lead author Rona Antoni, MD, Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, in a press release issued by the university. “But for those who do well and are able stick to the 5:2 diet, it could potentially have a beneficial impact on some important risk markers for cardiovascular disease, in some cases more so than daily dieting. However, we need further studies to confirm our findings, to understand the underlying mechanisms and to improve the tolerability of the 5:2 diet.”