As intermittent fasting gains popularity as a dietary strategy for weight management and overall health, questions arise about its potential impact on heart health.

Today, we’re joined by seasoned registered dietitian nutritionist, Kim Arrey, and CJAD radio host, Ken Connors, to explore this timely topic. With conflicting information about whether intermittent fasting could increase the risk of heart disease, it’s crucial to examine the latest research and expert opinions. In this interview, we will delve into the potential cardiovascular implications of intermittent fasting, providing insights to help you make informed decisions about incorporating this eating pattern into your lifestyle. Join us as we uncover the facts and myths surrounding intermittent fasting and its effects on heart health.


This podcast was aired on the Weekends with Ken Connors show on CJAD.


Ken Connors: Kim this week I was really surprised when I heard on the news that intermittent fasting was linked to an increase in your risk of developing heart disease? I thought that intermittent fasting was a good for you.

Kim Arrey: Ken, I nearly choked on my supper when I heard the news.   What made all the headline was an abstract for a presentation will take place the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Scientific Sessions 2024 in Chicago.  This study has not been peer reviewed and all the details of study have not been published yet.  What we know about the study is that the researchers analyzed the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys, collected from 2003-2018 and compared this to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Death Index database. They looked at 20,000 adults in the U.S. with an average age of 49 years. The results were interesting, in that they found that people who ate all of their food in 8 hours a day or less had a 91% higher risk of dying of heart disease.  And Time-restricted eating did not reduce the overall risk of death from any cause.

Ken Connors: Kim can you just clarify what time restricted eating is?

Kim Arrey: Ken it is one of the most popular types of intermittent fasting.  The focus is on when you eat, not what you eat.  People try to eat all their food in an 8 hour window and fast for 16 hours a day.  And some people do all their eating during an even smaller window of time. 

Ken Connors: So you can eat anything you want?

Kim Arrey: Yes.  And that is one of the criticisms of the study.  The abstract did not tell us  what the people were eating, or when they were eating.  One of the things that we do know from the studies that suggest there are health benefits from time restricted eating is that the participants in these studies are often eating most of their eating earlier in the day.  So that might be one of the reasons that results in this study were not very favourable to time restricted eating.

Ken Connors: Were there any other reasons that the results of this study were different from other research? 

Kim Arrey: Yes.  Most of the studies that I have seen on time restricted eating last for any were from a few weeks to perhaps a year or so.  In this abstract, the participants were followed for between 8 and 17 years.  So it is possible that the benefits of time restricted eating are only present for a short time.  The other difference is that in this study the researchers actually focused on death from heart disease, cancer and actually any other cause of death.  In most other studies the researchers have mostly looked at things like weight loss, BMI, blood sugar levels, and risk factors for heart disease like cholesterol levels.  But they have not actually looked at death rates. 

Ken Connors: Kim does this mean that people should just eat all day long?

Kim Arrey: Ken there is some evidence that we do need to have a fasting period every day but right now the consensus seems to be that this fast should last between 10-14 hours.  That gives you a longer eating window that allows your gut microbiota to flourish and that helps to keep you healthy.

Ken Connors: Kim does this mean the end of intermittent fasting?

Kim Arrey: No Ken.  This was an observational study and a preliminary study.  This means that before we decide to ditch intermittent fasting researchers need continue check it out.  And at the same time, we need to continue to research the other types of fasting.

Ken Connors: Kim are there health benefits to other types of fasting?

Kim Arrey: Ken right now all the evidence is mixed.  Some studies show that alternate day or 5/2 fasting, where you follow a lower calorie eating plan for 2 days and eat normally for 5 days can promote weight loss, and improvements in blood glucose levels in the short term.  But when compared with a regular weight loss program, at the end of the year the results were the same.