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Intermittent fasting is gaining in popularity, with many people utilising a “timed feeding window”. This way of intermittent fasting limits eating to a 4/6/8 – 10 hour period in the day, in order to achieve effective results. Many people chose to simply abstain from breakfast – limiting their morning intake to black coffee or tea – in order to achieve the often recommended 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. Some health experts recommend that a healthier way to do intermittent fasting is to rather eat breakfast and then stop eating in the afternoon. Skipping dinner enables your body to avoid the spike in insulin – which naturally follows eating a meal – before bedtime. If you would like to find out about different intermittent fasting protocols you can read this article by Dr Sarah Ballantyne.
The topic of intermittent fasting continues to be of scientific interest, with many more research results showing the positive effects of intermittent fasting on a cellular and genetic level.
We have summarised the most important benefits of intermittent fasting relating to those living with osteoarthritis or any chronic inflammatory condition.
The benefits of intermittent fasting relating to osteoarthritis and inflammation
Losing weight, maintaining weight
Due to the limited time window when eating is allowed, you should logically consume less calories. This reduced calorie intake can be quite significant, when considering that even a healthy breakfast or dinner may easily consist of 400-500 calories. Without changing anything else in your diet and physical activity, skipping breakfast or dinner alone can lead to an average weight loss of a pound per week. A pound of weight loss per week is generally the weekly weight loss recommendation, suggested by most dieticians and nutritionists.
Improved fat burning efficiency
Due to the extended fasting period, the carbohydrate – based reserves in the body become depleted. The body uses carbohydrates in the following order:
- the blood glucose circulating through your system
- after 10-12 hours of fasting, the glycogen and glucagon reserves which are stored in the muscles and the liver get utilised
- only after period this does your body switch gears and start to burn fat as its’ energy source.
Increased growth hormone
Scientific studies done decades ago, in the 80-ies and 90-ies showed that growth hormone levels in the blood are significantly increased during fasting. High levels of growth hormone play a protective role relating to muscle and other tissues within the body. In many forms of crash dieting, people tend to lose muscle mass, in contrast to IF where the fasting helps to maintain muscle mass.
In intermittent fasting, the increased levels of growth hormone help to maintain muscle mass, or to improve muscle mass and strength – especially in those who do resistance exercise. As a result of improved muscle mass, osteoarthritis patients especially benefit from intermittent fasting. This is because the muscles stabilise the joint, leading to a decrease in the wear and tear in the joint.
Improved cellular repair processes
One of the most interesting effects of short-term fasting is that our cells start to implement repair processes in order to protect themselves from different stressors. This process is also called “autophagy”.
Autophagy is a self-cleaning mechanism of the cells, in order to remove waste materials.
Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation
Oxidative stress is often seen as one of the most damaging processes which underlies chronic diseases and the ageing process. During oxidative stress, free radicals attack and often destroy the crucial building blocks of our cells – such as proteins, genetic material and information in your DNA.
Researchers found that intermittent fasting has anti-oxidative effects, thereby protecting our cells and DNA from free radicals.
Other studies have found that intermittent fasting improved the symptoms of different chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma. More recent studies also proved the benefits of intermittent fasting, for patients with arthritis.
The additional health benefits relating to intermittent fasting include
- reduced insulin levels
- reduced risk for type II diabetes
- reduced risk for develpoing Alzheimer´s disease
- improved brain function
- increase in life span
- positive effects on genes in terms of longevity and disease protection
To sum up
In brief, the benefits of intermittent fasting for osteoarthritis patients are
- IF is a simple and effective way to achieve weight loss and improve fat burning
- IF leads to improved cellular repair and regeneration processes in order to protect joints and gain muscle strength
- IF helps to reduce oxidative stress, which helps to prevent disease progression.
Intermittent fasting is also great combined with a low carb diet. Check out our article about the benefits of low carb diet where we examine a scientific study which showed that a diet low in carbohydrates reduces inflammation and pain.
If you would like to find out more about intermittent fasting, how to do it, and what elements are important you can read our longer article where many of your questions will be answered.
To benefit even more from IF, ensure that you eat healthy, wholesome foods during your feeding window. We have plenty of delicious low carb and healthy recipes that are perfect to be included in an intermittent fasting diet plan. Let us know which is your favorite! If you are needing to lose weight due to arthritis in your hips or knees, and you need some motivation, read this science backed article by Dr Eszter Tanczos.
Another element in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, is exercise. If you would like physiotherapy approved exercises which you can easily do at home to strengthen your knees or hips, be sure to check out our free videos.
We even have full body cardio exercises and easy cardio exercises you can do at home which will raise your heart rate and get you feeling fit and healthy. Remember that if you suffer from a cardiac condition you should get your doctors go ahead before starting any cardio-exercise program.