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Fasting, Exercise And Immune Function

Posted by Dr. Robert Portman on 3/29/2021 to Performance Tip Of The Week
Fasting, Exercise And Immune Function


As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our lives, endurance athletes are faced with challenges – how to maintain their fitness level and their immune health. Previous Performance Tips have discussed the beneficial effects of exercise on immune function. A recent study examined the impact of intermittent fasting, which has become quite popular among endurance, on immune function. 


Fourteen male subjects participated in a two part protocol. In the first part, subjects completed an acute bout of exercise following 36 hours of intermittent fasting. Various markers of immune function were measured before and after the exercise bout. Two weeks later the subjects completed the same exercise bout without intermittent fasting.


The results were quite interesting. During the intermittent fasting segment, there was a drop in markers of immune function before the exercise bout that was aggravated following exercise. The non-intermittent fasting segment showed no drop in immune parameters before exercise and enhanced immune function after exercise. 


The researchers concluded that intermittent fasting may aggravate both markers of immune function and inflammation induced by moderate intensity exercise. These results reinforce the importance of recovery nutrition. Recovery nutrition has been shown to reduce free radicals and other inflammatory markers. 


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