Background/objectives: Alternate day fasting (ADF) is a subtype of intermittent fasting and is defined as a continuous sequence of a fast day (100% energy restriction, zero calories) and a feed day (ad libitum food consumption), resulting in roughly 36-h fasting periods. Previous studies demonstrated weight reductions and improvements of cardiovascular risk factors with ADF in obese subjects. However, rigorous data on potential endocrine, metabolic and cardiovascular effects, besides weight loss, are lacking. Therefore we aim to investigate the short- and mid- to long-term clinical and molecular effects of ADF in healthy non-obese subjects.
Methods: We will perform a prospective cohort study with an embedded randomized controlled trial (RCT) including 90 healthy subjects. Thirty of them will have performed ADF for at least 6 months (mid-term group). Sixty healthy subjects without a particular diet before enrolment will serve as the control group. These subjects will be 1:1 randomized to either continuing their current diet or performing ADF for 4 weeks. All subjects will undergo study procedures that will be repeated in RCT participants after 4 weeks. These procedures will include assessment of outcome parameters, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, measurement of endothelial function, an oral glucose tolerance test, 24-h blood pressure measurement, retinal vessel analysis, echocardiography and physical activity measurement by an accelerometer. Blood, sputum, buccal mucosa and faeces will be collected for laboratory analyses. Participants in the RCT will wear a continuous glucose monitor to verify adherence to the study intervention.
Planned outcomes: The aim of this project is to investigate the effects of ADF on human physiology and molecular cellular processes. This investigation should gain in-depth mechanistic insights into the concept of ADF and form the basis for larger subsequent cohort recruitment and consecutive intervention studies.
Trial registration: NCT02673515; registered 24 November 2015. Current protocol date/version: 7 February 2017/version 1.8.
Keywords: Alternate day fasting; Blood pressure; Cell death; Cell signalling; Cohort study; Endothelial function; Glucose metabolism; Healthy subjects; Insulin sensitivity; Intermittent fasting.