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3/27/18 6:54 P

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By Juna Xu,

Intermittent fasting diets, such as eating only on alternate days, might enhance aerobic endurance, according to a new study.

The research published in the FASEB Journal, suggests that eating three meals per day and snacking may not be the only way to reach peak performance and maintain good health for those who engage in endurance sports.

Fasting of any kind has gained popularity in recent years as an efficient way to shed weight by placing a gentle stress on the body that kicks fat-burning into high gear. However, the new research now explains that during this process, the body switches to using fats and ketones as a source of fuel for muscles instead of carbohydrates.

The scientists placed mice into four groups and observed them for two months as they went through a series of exercise and intermittent fasting patterns.

One group remained sedentary and had constant access to food, while the second group ran for 45 minutes on the treadmill every day and also had food readily available.

The third group remained sedentary and was deprived of food for 24 hours every alternate day, and the fourth group ran for 45 minutes every day while only having access to food every alternate day.

After body analysis of the mice at the end of the first month, the mice without food restrictions had notably higher fat mass than the restricted mice.

At the end of the two-month study, the mice that had food restrictions and ran on the treadmill daily were able to run for longer compared to the group of mice who ran on the treadmill and had constant access to food.

These results showed that those who fasted for regular periods of time burned fat instead of sugars during exercise, which allowed them to workout for longer because fats are a more efficient energy source.

The study's lead author, Dr. Mark Mattson, from the Laboratory of Neurosciences in the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, MD, explained that the body and brain may have been designed to work at their peak performance during times of fasting.

"Emerging evidence suggests that [intermittent fasting] might improve overall health and reduce risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in humans.

"Our new findings in laboratory animals provide evidence that similar intermittent eating patterns can enhance the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on endurance performance."

The study suggests that for humans, the added endurance could allow the average person to withstand aerobic exercise for an extra 20 to 30 per cent longer.

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