Skipping Breakfast and Eating Dinner Late Increases Deadly Heart Attack Risk. Do Intermittent Fasters Need to Worry?

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By: Alison Moodie

If you practice intermittent fasting, chances are, you skip breakfast and don’t eat dinner until much later in the day. Well, a new study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology[1] found that people who forgo breakfast and eat dinner later are five times more likely to die from a heart attack. Does this concern you? Sure. But here’s why you might not need to worry.

What’s the deal with skipping breakfast and heart attacks?

image of a heartResearchers at Sao Paolo University tracked 113 people who’d previously had heart attacks. Among that group, 57 percent skipped breakfast three or more times a week; 51 percent ate dinner late (within two hours of bedtime) three plus times a week, and 41 percent skipped breakfast and ate dinner late at least three times a week.

Those who frequently skipped breakfast and ate a late dinner were four to five times more likely die within a month of their heart attack, or suffer another heart attack, independent of other risk factors.

Bad habits come with eating late and skipping meals

woman resting her brow against her handsWhile that might sound foreboding to those who stagger their meals later in the day, lead researcher Dr. Marcos Minicucci does note that previous studies show people with these eating habits are also more likely to have other unhealthy habits that make them more susceptible to heart attacks, such as smoking, lack of physical activity, high stress levels, and long work hours

A recent sleep survey backs this up. It found that 42 percent of Americans often or always work late, while another 33 percent sometimes work late.[2] Sixty-six percent admitted to eating worse when they work late, with 52 percent reaching for fast food — which is never good for your heart.

Eating all your calories at night is no bueno for bedtime

woman looking in refrigerator at nightPacking in heavy calories right before bed does not bode well for your sleep or your well-being. A 2018 report by the American Heart Association linked calorie-heavy dinners with an increased risk of developing prediabetes and high blood pressure.[3] Eating the bulk of your calories earlier in the day gives your body time to process them and utilize them for fuel throughout the day.

How to practice intermittent fasting safely

man preparing to eat a saladSo what does this all mean for the intermittent fasters of the world?

  • Keep your stress levels low. Here’s how to manage stress and chill out.
  • Make lunchtime the biggest meal of the day. Fill your plate with vegetables and a small portion of protein. Use this Bulletproof Diet Roadmap for guidance.
  • Eat a lighter meal at dinnertime, and be sure to finish it at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Follow a low-carb diet while intermittent fasting. This will keep your blood sugar levels stable, and make you less prone to energy dips and cravings.
  • Eat low-inflammation foods and healthy fats to keep your arteries (and the rest of your body) happy.
  • Don’t sacrifice good habits for the sake of your job. Productivity suffers when you don’t take breaks. Here’s how to give your brain a break and recharge.

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