Intermittent Fasting: Can It Help Optimize Human Performance?

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Deuster PA, Scott JM 21(2). 92 - 97 (Journal Article)

Nutritional fitness is a key goal of every Special Operations Forces (SOF) Operator, and nutrition is one way of potentially gaining a necessary edge. Although fad diets are popular among SOF Operators, many have no evidence with regard to military-specific tasks. One fad diet-intermittent fasting (IF)-is clearly the rage across the United States (US) and popular as a dietary pattern. Most fad diets are studied in the context of various chronic diseases, in particular, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, and there are no data on the benefits among SOF or any military population. Thus, evidence demonstrating improvements in performance is typically lacking. Despite no clear evidence, many still devote their lives to popular fad diets. We address whether IF confers performance improvements in SOF by first discussing the concepts of metabolic flexibility and metabolic shifting, then describing IF and its subtypes, after which we summarize the literature with regard to cardiovascular disease and obesity. We close with how IF impacts performance and discuss who should use consider using IF as a dietary pattern.

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