Intermittent fasting involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating to help with weight loss, improve the health of your metabolism, and boost your immune system. The question is; Does it really work or is it just another fad?
Intermittent fasting has been around for centuries and was studied as an ancient health secret. Our bodies are perfectly equipped to withstand periods of fasting. It has been done out of necessity when there was a shortage of food, for various religious reasons since the dawn of man, and for the sake of convenience, it can save a lot of time.
The 3 most popular types of intermittent fasting are:
16/8: This is where you fast 16 hours every day consuming only food between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. everyday. You can drink any non-caloric drink at these times, but no food.
5: 2: food intake twice a week is limited to 500 calories throughout the day.
Eat-Stop-Eat: fasting once or twice a week for 24 hours, not eating from dinner one day to dinner the next.
Here is a list of the top proven benefits of intermittent fasting:
Lose weight and belly fat
For starters, intermittent fasting causes you to eat less, which leads to an overall reduction in calories, which leads to burning fat, which contributes to weight loss. What's even better about using intermittent fasting for weight loss is that it not only cuts calories, it also increases your overall metabolic rate by 3-14%. It also improves the function of your body's hormones to work more towards weight loss and control. Intermittent fasting works your entire body on all sides to lower your fat percentage without causing you to lose muscle mass.
Lower risk of diabetes
The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is continually increasing. Intermittent fasting has been shown to greatly improve insulin resistance within the body, leading to an overall reduction in blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that when participating in intermittent fasting, blood sugar was lowered by 3-6% while insulin was lowered by 20-31%. Intermittent fasting is helpful in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes.
Increases heart health
The leading cause of death in the world today is heart disease. Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve multiple risk factors for developing heart disease. Blood pressure and cholesterol are two main factors of heart disease that are greatly reduced and controlled with the implementation of intermittent fasting.
Increase brain function
The important brain hormone BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) increases with intermittent fasting. BDNF deficiency is known to cause a variety of brain problems including anxiety, depression, and increased ADHD symptoms. Intermittent fasting also reduces the risks associated with developing Alzheimer's disease. It does this by improving the connections in the hippocampus and protects against amyloid plaques.
Low blood pressure
Unhealthy blood pressure levels increase your risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease, and a stroke. While following the practice of intermittent fasting, systolic blood pressure is lowered to healthier levels. Following specific meal times has been shown to work better with regulating blood pressure compared to diets that only restrict calories.
Reduce the risk of cancer
The restrictive nature of intermittent fasting has been shown to delay the onset and growth of cancerous tumors. Many cancer risk factors increase with obesity, insulin levels, and inflammation. All of these health risks have been shown to decrease to healthier, more moderate levels when intermittent fasting is followed. Evidence is also emerging showing that intermittent fasting can reduce the side effects people face when undergoing chemotherapy.
It enhances sleep quality
Sleep is the secret weapon of success. If you need more energy, clearer skin, or want to lose weight, sleep plays a huge role. When you're not fasting, your body and brain continually process what you eat. When you're fasting, your body and brain have more time to focus on detoxifying and properly distributing nutrients than you had at the beginning of the day (or week). This process continues while you sleep. Fasting helps relax your mind and body, which in turn gives you a higher quality of rest.
Reduces stress and inflammation
Inflammation is a tool the body uses to fight infection. If there is too much inflammation, it can lead to diabetes, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and multiple sclerosis. Intermittent fasting is a way to regulate inflammation and reduce it to what is necessary for the body to function properly. Intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative stress in the body, thereby reducing inflammation.
Increase body detoxification
Taking a break from eating gives your body and mind a break from the continuous processing of what you are eating. This gives the body more time to focus on detoxifying and directing nutrients to its most effective areas. This process to increase detoxification leads to an increase in your metabolism and helps you lose weight. Fasting stimulates cellular autophagy, which is the body's natural ability to detoxify, cleanse, and recycle cells that are not working properly.
Increase life expectancy
Intermittent fasting can aid in the manipulation of mitochondria, the energy-producing cell structure, and their networks by changing their shape. Restricting the diet helps keep the mitochondria in a fused state, which is their "youthful" state. This increases the communication networks with various organelles in the body, increasing their ability to metabolize fat and expend energy, which slows down the aging process.