• Cardiovascular

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Does intermittent fasting increase heart disease risk?

For years, people have used intermittent fasting to lose unwanted pounds, while others fast for religious reasons. The popular diet trend is generally safe, but some studies suggest that time-restricted eating could cause heart problems.

Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says this type of dieting isn't for everyone.

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There are several ways to do intermittent fasting. The 16:8 method is popular. This involves eating during an eight-hour window daily. Many dieters do this by skipping breakfast.

"It actually became popular because studies on fruit flies show that when you restrict the calories, the flies will actually live longer. But we are not flies," says Dr. Lopez-Jimenez.

an assortment of foods included in a diabetes diet - fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, legumes, whole grain - on a white wooden surface
Many people use the 16:8 intermittent fasting method.

Time-restrictive dieting can promote weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce inflammation. However, some research shows this practice could possibly increase cardiovascular risks.

"This recent study actually showed that those people practicing intermittent fasting are twice as likely of dying from heart disease or dying in general than those who don't practice this," explains Dr. Lopez-Jimenez. The reasons behind the risk factors are unclear. Before trying intermittent fasting, it's a good idea to check with your healthcare team.

The three most popular intermittent fasting methods are:

  • Alternate day fasting.
  • 5-2 fasting. Eat normal for five days and restrict calories for two days.
  • Daily time-restricted fasting.

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