Intermittent fasting is gaining popularity among health and fitness enthusiasts. It basically involves an alternating series of fasting and eating.
Based on studies conducted, it improves metabolic health, promotes weight loss and protects against disease as well as prolong the lifespan.
A close look on intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating with cycles of eating and fasting. This does not specify the foods to eat but when to eat them.
There are various methods which involve splitting the day or week into periods of eating and fasting.
One approach is skipping on breakfast where the first meal is at noon and the last is in the evening. In this approach, the individual is fasting for 16 hours a day and limiting eating to an 8-hour window. This is the most popular type of fasting or the 16/8 method.
Generally, hunger is not a big concern, but it is an issue at the start since the body is still getting used to the lack of eating for long periods of time.
Remember that you cannot eat while fasting, but you can drink water, tea, coffee, as well as other non-caloric beverages. In some forms of fasting, you can take in small amounts of low-calorie foods. Supplements are generally allowed if they do not contain any calories.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
Cutting down weight and belly fat
Generally, intermittent fasting will urge an individual to eat fewer meals throughout the day. As an outcome, the body takes in fewer calories.
Furthermore, it enhances hormone function to promote weight loss. Once the level of insulin drops, the increased level of growth hormones and norepinephrine promotes the increasing breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.
Due to this, short-term fasting increases the metabolic rate to allow burning off more calories.
If an individual follows this diet scheme, it is easier to maintain weight loss over a long-term period.
Lower insulin resistance
Intermittent fasting has a big benefit on insulin resistance, leading to a significant drop in the blood sugar levels. Based on studies, fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin drops. Generally, this is an advantage for individuals at risk to develop type 2 diabetes.
In addition, fasting is also beneficial for those who are pre-diabetic since it requires the body to generate insulin less often.
Among those who are pre-diabetic or has a family history of the disease, this type of diet is beneficial. This is supported in one study where a diet which mimics a fasting cycle can restore insulin secretion and promote the production of new insulin-generating pancreatic beta cells among mice. For now, further research is necessary to achieve similar results among humans.
Changes the function of the cells, hormones, and genes
• Level of insulin – there is a drop in the insulin level which promotes fat burning
• Human growth hormone – there is a rapid increase which facilitates fat burning and muscle gain along with other bodily benefits
• Cellular repair – the body starts vital cellular repair processes such as the elimination of waste products from the cells
• Gene expression – beneficial alterations occur to the genes and molecules associated with longevity and protection against disease
Reduce oxidative stress and bodily inflammation
Oxidative stress is a component of the ageing process and various chronic ailments. It involves the reaction of free radicals with vital molecules which leads to damage.
In various studies, intermittent fasting can improve the resistance of the body to oxidative stress. Furthermore, studies reveal that fasting also fights inflammation which is a common factor of common diseases.
Improves heart health
Intermittent fasting can improve various risk factors for heart disease such as blood triglycerides, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, inflammatory markers as well as total and LDL cholesterol.
Induces various cellular repair processes
During fasting, the cells in the body start the cellular process of waste removal or autophagy. This involves the breaking down of cells and metabolizing damaged or dysfunctional proteins that accumulate inside the cells over time.
An increase in this process can provide protection against various ailments including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Beneficial for the brain
Fasting improves a variety of metabolic features essential for overall brain health. This includes oxidative stress, lower inflammation, and blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
In one study, intermittent fasting can increase the growth of new nerve cells that improves the brain function. There is also an increase in the brain hormone level specifically brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). If there is a deficiency in this hormone, there is a link to depression and other brain issues.
Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease. Since there is no cure, prevention is crucial.
One lifestyle intervention involving brief fasting daily significantly improves the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Prolong the lifespan
Intermittent fasting is known to lengthen the lifespan. Although further research is necessary, this benefit is becoming popular these days.
With the metabolism benefits and other health markers, intermittent fasting can extend the lifespan and promote a healthier life.
Helps sync the circadian rhythms and fight off metabolic ailments
The circadian rhythm or body clock is an internal system that regulates sleepiness and wakefulness over 24 hours. If an individual is fasting, it helps the body stick to the circadian rhythm and help improve metabolism.
Eating certain foods before going to bed has been linked to weight gain and sleep disturbances especially those that trigger acid reflux.
Should I try it out?
Intermittent fasting is one of the various lifestyle measures that can improve health. You have the option to include in your life.
Remember that fasting is suitable for some individuals, but not to others. You can find out by trying out the diet.
If the individual feels good while fasting and considers it as a supportable manner of eating, it is an effective approach to help cut down weight and improve overall health.