Trending Diets in Cardiovascular Health: How to Choose?

5 July, 2021 , ,

Intermittent Fasting

There are 3 main types of intermittent fasting:

  • Alternative (or alternating) fasting, which consists of alternating between unrestricted feeding days and fasting days, which last between 24 and 36 hours, one to several times a week.
  • Modified alternating fasting (fasting 5:2), which consists of reducing caloric intake for two non-consecutive days in the week (5 days of normal consumption interspersed with 2 days of fasting).
  • Time restrictive eating, which consists of ingesting all the food of a day within a limited period of time,generally varying between 4 and 10 hours per day. This method consists of omitting one or two meals of the day, and this at all times.

Time Restricted Eating

This is the method that has been the most studied, has the best long-term adherence rate and seems the most promising. It allows the body to return to a normal circadian rhythm to help normalize metabolic processes. On the other hand, it does not take into account the quality or composition of the diet. There is a lack of studies to confirm the optimal timing of food intake. We notice that  insulin sensitivity, beta cell responsiveness, the thermic effect of food and fatty acid oxidation are all higher in the morning than at the end of the day, suggesting that metabolism is optimized for food intake in the morning. However, fasting later in the day may be less convenient and more difficult to do.

Effects on Weight Loss

Studies show that intermittent fasting has effects comparable to a traditional diet with caloric restriction on weight loss. The weight loss associated with intermittent fasting seems to be caused by the fact that it decreases the opportunity to eat, which decreases the total amount of calories consumed per day. There is a risk of loss of muscle  mass, especially if the person does not exercise, does not consume enough protein, or does not distribute their protein intake optimally throughout the day.

Effects on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

Studies show that intermittent fasting can improve the lipid profile (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides) over a period of 6 to 24 weeks, but more studies are needed.

Intermittent Fasting: Good For Everyone?

Intermittent fasting may be appropriate for some people if it matches their lifestyle, but for others it may be difficult to follow under certain constraints such as schedule, training, and social and family activities. If a diet is too difficult to follow, it cannot be carried out in the long term. Fasting is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, children and adolescents, the elderly, or people suffering from renal or hepatic insufficiency, erectile dysfunction, or who are taking insulin or
oral antihyperglycemic agents.

The Ornish Diet

The Ornish diet was created by Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at the University of California. This diet includes recommendations on nutrition but also on physical activity, stress management and social support. The goal of this diet is not only weight loss but also an improvement in overall health. It is very low in fat (less than 10% of total energy intake, no added fat allowed) and very high in carbohydrates (70 to 75% of total energy intake). It mainly includes plant based whole foods, but low-fat dairy products, egg whites, and fish are also permitted.

Effects on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

The Ornish diet has bene shown to be beneficial for heart health. However, it is difficult to follow in the long term due to the restriction of fats. As fat intake is very low, it is important to ensure that the fats ingested are of good quality and provide the necessary essential fatty acids for the body.

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Kathryn Adel

Kathryn Adel

Kathryn completed degrees in kinesiology and nutrition, as well as a Masters in Sports Nutrition. She is a member of OPDQ and of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She ran track and cross-country at a national level. Kathryn specializes in sports nutrition, weight loss, diabetes, as well as heart and gastrointestinal health. Kathryn is experienced with the low FODMAP diet and she completed the Monash University low FODMAP dietitian’s training.

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