Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Researchers have determined that up to 16 weeks of intermittent fasting without calorie counting can help fight obesity and metabolic diseases.
The study, published today in Cell Research, found fasting triggered metabolism in mice studies.
Previous research suggests unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyles contribute to obesity and play a major role in the development of metabolic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. A previous study by the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology showed a periodic fasting diet can reduce cardiovascular risk factors, among other health benefits.
For the current study, researchers exposed groups of mice to 16 weeks of intermittent fasting -- involving a recurring regimen of the mice being fed for two days then fasting for one day. The calorie intake of the mice was not changed during the study.
After four months, the mice in the fasting group weighed less than mice in the control group. The mice in the fasting group also had lower fat build-up in the white fat by increasing brown-like fat involved in burning energy and producing body heat. Glucose and insulin levels were stable as well.
"Intermittent fasting without a reduction in calorie intake can be a preventative and therapeutic approach against obesity and metabolic disorders," Kyoung-Han Kim, of The Hospital for Sick Children in Ontario, Canada, said in a press release.
Researchers found that intermittent fasting improves the immune reaction in fat cells known as anti-inflammatory macrophages, which stimulate the fat cells to burn stored fats by generating heat. During periods of intermittent fasting, this process occurs due to an increase in vascular growth factor, or VEGF, that help form blood vessels and activate anti-inflammatory macrophages.
"Strikingly, these fasting-stimulated changes in the growth of vascular cells and subsequent immune alterations occur even after a single cycle of 24-hour fasting, and are completely reversed when mice start eating again," Yun Hye Kim, said.