Three Days of Intermittent Fasting: Repeated-Sprint Performance Decreased by Vertical-Stiffness Impairment

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Anissa Cherif
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Romain Meeusen
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Abdulaziz Farooq
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Joong Ryu
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Mohamed Amine Fenneni
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Zoran Nikolovski
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Sittana Elshafie
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Karim Chamari
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Bart Roelands
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Purpose:

To examine the effects of 3 d of intermittent fasting (3d-IF: abstaining from eating/drinking from dawn to sunset) on physical performance and metabolic responses to repeated sprints (RSs).

Methods:

Twenty-one active males performed an RS test (2 sets: 5 × 5-s maximal sprints with 25 s of recovery between and 3 min of recovery between sets on an instrumented treadmill) in 2 conditions: counterbalanced fed/control session (CS) and fasting session (FS). Biomechanical and biochemical markers were assessed preexercise and postexercise.

Results:

Significant main effects of IF were observed for sprints: maximal speed (P = .016), mean speed (P = .015), maximal power (P = .035), mean power (P = .049), vertical stiffness (P = .032), and vertical center-of-mass displacement (P = .047). Sprint speed and vertical stiffness decreased during the 1st (P = .003 and P = .005) and 2nd sprints (P = .046 and P = .048) of set 2, respectively. Postexercise insulin decreased in CS (P = .023) but not in FS (P = .230). Free-fatty-acid levels were higher in FS than in CS at preexercise (P < .001) and at postexercise (P = .009). High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) was higher at postexercise in FS (1.32 ± 0.22 mmol/L) than in CS (1.26 ± 0.21 mmol/L, P = .039). The triglyceride (TG) concentration was decreased in FS (P < .05) compared with CS.

Conclusions:

3d-IF impaired speed and power through a decrease in vertical stiffness during the initial runs of the 2nd set of RS. The findings of the current study confirmed the benefits of 3d-IF: improved HDL-C and TG profiles while maintaining total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Moreover, improving muscle power might be a key factor to retain a higher vertical stiffness and to partly counteract the negative effects of intermittent fasting.

Cherif, Farooq, Elshafie, and Chamari are with the Athlete Health and Performance Research Center, Aspetar–Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar. Meeusen and Roelands are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Free University of Brussel, Belgium. Ryu and Nikolovski are with the Sports Sciences Dept, Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar. Fenneni is with the Faculty of Medicine of Sousse, University of Sousse, Tunisia.

Address author correspondence to Anissa Cherif at anissa.cherif@aspetar.com.
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