What is Intermittent Fasting | Benefits of Intermittent Fasting | Weight loss | Hormone functions | Diabetes | Hearth health | Aging | Autophagy | Cancer | Sleep | Is Intermittent Fasting Good for You
It is a well-known fact that excess calorie intake and weight gain lead to diseases and even disability. You might have tried various fad diets to shed some weight. Irrespective of which diet you follow, every fasting interval results in reduced glucose and insulin levels. Intermittent fasting is a simple and straightforward diet. It creates a fasting window and promotes your metabolic health. There are various benefits of intermittent fasting, including weight loss and improved health. Let’s take a look at them.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is voluntary abstinence of food intake for a specific period of time and is practiced in different ways worldwide. In many cultures, fasting has been practiced from ancient days. The increasing interest in intermittent fasting seen these days is due to the amazing health benefits experienced and shared by many famous people. There are also research studies that support these health benefits of intermittent fasting.
So, how does intermittent fasting work? How can it help you lose weight? Are there other benefits of intermittent fasting? Is it suitable for diabetes?
If you have similar questions, read on to know exactly how intermittent fasting can help you…
What is Intermittent Fasting and How it Works
Intermittent fasting is a diet pattern that focuses more on your mealtime. In this, you fast for a period of time and eat during your eating window. You can have one or two meals a day, which is considered an effective and healthy diet approach.
Intermittent fasting principally affects the following factors;
Circadian biology – Our bodies follow a circadian clock where they limit their activities at night. Circadian rhythm plays a significant role in energy metabolism and weight regulations. Daily variations in diet and sleep affect this circadian rhythm and result in disruption of metabolism and weight gain.
Intermittent fasting addresses these issues by synchronizing your mealtime. Consuming most of your food during a specific period during the day can result in weight loss and better health.
The gut microbiome – Intermittent fasting directly affects your gut microbiome and promotes the browning of white adipose tissue. This reduces obesity and improves metabolic homeostasis.
Lifestyle modifications – Night-time eating is linked to poor sleep quality and reduced sleep duration. This, in turn, results in insulin resistance, diabetes, heart diseases, and increased risk of obesity. By dietary and mealtime restrictions, intermittent fasting brings various positive changes to your health.
Top 8 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
1. Helps in Weight Loss
Obesity is a major health concern, and the focus of most diets is to achieve fat burn. Abstinence of food allows you to use the stored fat for energy. Intermittent fasting is an excellent strategy for weight loss and also has some independent health benefits. Eating for a set period of time makes you eat fewer calories. Intermittent fasting boosts your metabolism and shows promising results on fat loss and insulin sensitivity.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity indicated that intermittent fasting leads to considerable weight loss in obese men.
When we stop snacking between meals, our insulin levels go down. This facilitates the release of stored sugar from fat cells leading to weight loss. Intermittent fasting influences your hormone function; it lowers insulin level, enhances growth hormones and norepinephrine, which facilitates fat burning. It also increases the metabolic rate, thus helping you lose weight.
2. Improves Your Hormone Functions
During your fasting period, various changes take place in your body. The changes in hormonal function initiate cellular repair and healing of your body.
Intermittent fasting mainly affects these hormones;
One of the most significant benefit of intermittent fasting is lowering insulin levels. When you consume food, it increases your calorie levels resulting in the release of insulin. The most effective way of lowering insulin is to avoid food, exactly what intermittent fasting does during the fasting window. Lowered insulin means more fat is burned.
- Growth Hormone
Growth hormone enhances the breakdown and utilization of fat by reducing both lipoprotein lipase activity and insulin’s inhibitory action on hormone-sensitive lipase. It also preserves muscle protein, muscle mass, and bone density.
According to studies, fasting enhances growth hormone secretion, which helps to preserve the muscles as well as burn fat.
- Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)
Dietary restriction in intermittent fasting decreases energy consumption without compromising any nutritional value. It brings some powerful changes in the metabolic processes of the brain by increasing stress resistance, breaking down fats and ketogenic amino acids. With neuroprotective effect, BDNF helps in the generation of new nerve cells, enhances cognitive functions and learning.
Intermittent fasting increases the production of BDNF, leading to the prevention of dysfunction and dysregulation of neurons.
3. Reduces the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Many health professionals recommend dietary interventions for managing diabetes.
A diet regimen that lowers insulin resistance and blood sugar levels can be beneficial in type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting improves morning fasting glucose levels and reduces postprandial variability.
Intermittent fasting is a simple and accessible nutrition intervention. It results in significant improvements in diabetic glucose control. According to experts, it is a safe and tolerable diet for diabetic patients that results in zero incidences of hypoglycemia. It often leads to weight loss by reducing caloric consumption, which is beneficial for many people with type 2 diabetes.
4. Improves Heart Health
Intermittent fasting is a calorie restriction diet that reduces body weight and improves various cardiovascular risk factors. It is believed to lower blood pressure, insulin resistance and increase heart rate variability. Studies have indicated that when the frequency of eating is reduced, it results in better cardiovascular stress adaptation. This lowers cardiovascular risk factors.
Alternate day fasting reduces age-related inflammation and fibrosis. Intermittent fasting guards your heart against ischemic injury and helps in recovering post-myocardial infarction (MI) via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
5. Delays Aging Process
Oxidative stress is the primary cause of certain chronic diseases and aging. Intermittent fasting improves your body’s resistance to oxidative stress and helps fight inflammation.
Calorie restriction reduces the release of growth factors like growth hormone and insulin. This reduces the accelerating aging process and mortality in many. Intermittent fasting allows your body to repair cells and DNA, thereby improving health and longevity. Also, reducing chronic inflammation, intermittent fasting helps people live with a better quality of life.
6. Triggers Autophagy
Diet interventions promote metabolic and cellular changes resulting in adaptation to periods of limited nutrient availability. This nutrient starvation activates autophagy. The term “autophagy” means “self-eating,” where damaged and unwanted cells are eaten up by the body.
Autophagy plays a vital role in tumor suppression; hence it is associated with the prevention of cancer. It optimizes your body’s functioning by creating new cells and removing disintegrated ones.
7. May Prevent Cancer
Periodic fasting has a powerful anti-cancer effect. Cancer cells are vulnerable to nutrient deprivation and are significantly dependent on certain metabolites. Fasting brings alteration in growth factors and metabolite levels. Fasting creates an environment where cancer cells lose their ability to adapt and survive. According to research studies, fasting also improves the effects of cancer therapy and reduces the side effects of the treatment.
Glucose is the fuel for most cells, including cancer cells. Fasting leads to a glucose-depleted state that stops or alters this growth. Intermittent fasting also enhances your immune cells making them more effective against cancer cells.
8. Helps you Sleep Deeper
If you are struggling with sleep issues, eating close to bedtime can be one of the reasons. When you follow a regular eating pattern, your body gets adapted to a consistent sleep schedule. By building a strong circadian rhythm, intermittent fasting helps you sleep better and deeper.
A pilot study has revealed that periods of fasting promote sleep quality and reduce nighttime awakening. The study also indicated that fasting increased daytime performance.
What can I eat while intermittent fasting?
See our Full Intermittent Fasting Food List – What should I eat? Check it out.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good for You?
Simply changing your meal timings and fasting during the fasting window can bring great health benefits. Intermittent fasting is based on circadian rhythm and restricting your mealtime to 8 hours or 10 hours. To start your journey with intermittent fasting, choose the eating approach that works best for you. You can follow this diet regime once a month, once a week, or every day depending on how your body adapts to it.
Effects of intermittent fasting are more beneficial when it is combined with a healthy diet and exercise. It can significantly help you in weight loss, diabetes, and overall health.
However, if you are suffering from any chronic disorder, uncontrolled diabetes, or on any medication, you should consult your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting has changed my life personally. I’ve lost weight, more energy, cured gut issues, and just look younger! It sounds crazy, but it really works. My body has more time to digest, and repair/recover. So I never feel that tired lag throughout the day like I used to.
Intermittent fasting is not just fasting; it is a lifestyle where you understand your body clock and plan your eating and sleeping schedule. When you follow a healthy diet with calorie restrictions and maintain your fasting window, you get to experience some fantastic results of intermittent fasting. This diet regime simplifies your life, improves your metabolic health, and helps you achieve your weight loss goals.
If you plan to try intermittent fasting, make sure you make healthy food choices and don’t go for excessive junk food during your eating window. With the right approach, this simple diet strategy can help you lose weight and live a healthy and active life.
Are you Ready to Start Intermittent Fasting?
To begin this diet routine, you may need some support and guidance. Our 21-day fasting challenge can provide much-needed support and tips to overcome any difficulties and help in easy adaptation. Whether you are new to fasting or experienced, 21-day Intermittent Fasting Challenge can help both. Also, get access to a delicious intermittent fasting meal plan.
I recommend starting here to learn more about these types of fasting which are the MOST popular, starting with 16/8 Fasting, click on these guides below to learn more:
16/8 Fasting Guide,14/10 Fasting Guide, 18/6 Fasting Guide, One Meal a Day Guide.
Also need help fasting? Check out these Top 6 Fasting Mobile Apps we recommend to help you on your journey.