Intermittent fasting involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating to help with weight loss, improve the health of your metabolism, and increase 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 handle periods of fasting. It has been done for necessity when there was a lack of food, for various religious reasons since the dawn of man, and for the simple reason 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 for 16 hours every day by only consuming food between 12 pm and 8 pm each day. You can drink any non-caloric beverage around those times, just no food.
- 5:2: Twice a week food intake is limited to 500 calories for the whole day.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or Twice a week fast for 24 hours, no 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. To start, intermittent fasting makes you eat fewer meals, which leads to overall calorie reduction, which leads to burning fat, contributing to weight loss. What is even better about using intermittent fasting for weight loss is, not only does it reduce calories, but 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 management. Intermittent fasting works the whole body on all sides to decrease fat percentage without making you lose muscle mass.
- Lower Risk of Diabetes. The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is continually on the rise. The use of intermittent fasting has been proven to greatly improve insulin resistance within the body, leading to an overall reduction of blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that while participating in intermittent fasting, blood sugar was reduced by 3-6% while insulin was reduced by 20-31%. Intermittent fasting is helpful in the prevention of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Increase Heart Health. The current number 1 killer in the world is heart disease. Intermittent fasting is 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) is increased with the use of intermittent fasting. The deficiency in BDNF is known to cause a variety of brain problems including anxiety, depression, and increased ADHD symptoms. Intermittent fasting also reduces risks associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It does this by improving connections in the hippocampus and protects against amyloid plaques.
- Lower Blood Pressure. Unhealthy blood pressure levels increase the risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease, and having a stroke. While following the practice of intermittent fasting, systolic blood pressure is reduced to healthier levels. It is shown that following specific eating times functions better with regulating blood pressure when compared to diets that only restrict calories.
- Reduce Cancer Risk. The restricting nature of intermittent fasting is shown to delay the onset and growth of cancerous tumors. Many cancers risk factors are increased with obesity, insulin levels, and inflammation. All of these health risks are shown to lower to healthier and moderate levels when following the practice of intermittent fasting. Evidence is also popping up to show that intermittent fasting can reduce side effects that people are faced with when going through chemotherapy.
- Improve Sleep Quality. Sleep is the secret weapon of success. If you are needing more energy, clearer skin, or wanting to lose weight, sleep plays a huge role. When you are not fasting, your body and brain are continually processing what you are ingesting. When you are fasting, your body and brain have more time to focus on detoxing and properly distributing the nutrients from what you had consumed earlier in the day (or week). This process continues while you are sleeping. Fasting helps relax the mind and body which in turn gives you a higher quality of rest.
- Reduce 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 one way to regulate inflammation and reduce it down to what is needed for the body to function properly. Intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative stress in the body thus lowering inflammation.
- Increase Body Detoxification. Taking a break from eating gives your body and mind a break from continually processing what you are ingesting. This gives the body more time to focus on detoxification and direct nutrients to their most effective areas. This process to increase detoxification leads to an increase in your metabolism and helps with weight loss. Fasting stimulates cell autophagy, which is the body’s natural ability to detox, cleaning out and recycling cells that are not functioning 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 one’s diet helps maintain the mitochondria in a fused state, which is their ‘youthful’ state. This increases communication networks with various organelles in the body, increasing their ability to metabolize fats and expend energy, slowing down the aging process.