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Research shows food deprivation and moderate aerobic exercise may enhance endurance

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Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Intermittent food deprivation paired with moderate aerobic exercise may enhance endurance, according to animal study in The FASEB Journal

A new study published online in The FASEB Journal suggests in a mouse model an alternative to eating three meals a day plus snacks for optimal health and maximum performance in endurance sports.

The study showed that intermittent dietary energy restriction (IER) during one month of daily moderate aerobic exercise training enhanced endurance performance. These findings suggest that intermittent periods of food deprivation, which shift the muscle fuel source from carbohydrates to fats and ketones, should be further examined for their effectiveness in improving endurance.

"Emerging evidence suggests that IER might improve overall health and reduce risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in humans," said Mark Mattson, PhD, Senior Investigator, Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health. "Our new findings in laboratory animals provide evidence that similar intermittent eating patterns can enhance the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on endurance performance."

To conduct the experiment, Mattson and colleagues observed four groups of mice for two months. One group remained sedentary and had food available to eat 24/7 (ad libitum). The second group ran for 45 minutes on a treadmill every day and was also fed ad libitum. The third group remained sedentary and was deprived of food for 24 hours every other day. The fourth group ran for 45 minutes every day while maintaining the alternate day food deprivation regimen.

At the end of two months, the mice that ran on the treadmill daily had better endurance than the sedentary mice. However, the mice on IER during the treadmill training were able to run farther and longer than the mice on the ad libitum diet during the treadmill training.

"This study reminds us of the nexus between our own hunter-gatherer metabolism, still operative, and modern habits, with the findings from this animal system likely transferable to us to a considerable degree," said Thoru Pederson, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.


This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Receive monthly highlights for The FASEB Journal at The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is the world's most cited biology journal according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century.

FASEB is composed of 30 societies with more than 125,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Our mission is to advance health and well-being by promoting research and education in biological and biomedical sciences through collaborative advocacy and service to our societies and their members.

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