Intermittent fasting is a unique eating pattern where one switches between periods of eating and fasting. There are different ways to plan this pattern, but the most popular schedules are 16:8 and 5:2. In a 16:8 IF method, one would squeeze their meals into an 8-hour window before going into a 16 hour fasting period. The 5:2 method is planned in days instead of hours. One would eat for five days and fast for the remaining two days of the week.
Although Intermittent Fasting has gained traction for its weight loss benefits, studies show it has several other health benefits.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
1. It Supports Weight Loss
This is by far the most popular benefit of IF. A great majority of men and women are using intermittent fasting to reduce their belly fat and enhance their waistline. But, is there any scientific evidence to support this purported efficacy? Yes, there is.
IF reduces calorie intake. Additionally, it changes various physiological processes and influences chemicals such as insulin, norepinephrine, and HGH. All these factors come together to support fat loss.
This method of fasting can boost your metabolic rate by as much as 14%. This increases the breakdown of both calories and fatty acids. Reports show that it can stimulate weight loss of between 3% and 8% over a period of 3 to 24 weeks.
Some people combine IF with workouts for faster and better weight loss results. However, this is nowhere as easy as it may sound. By limiting your food intake, intermittent fasting affects your energy levels hence limiting your ability to sustain some physical activities.
That said, it’s not completely impossible to combine the two. As the nutritionists at https://21dayhero.com explain, you can adjust several factors like nutrition and the intensity of workouts to make sure you are getting the best of both worlds. With special nutrition, you’ll get the energy you need to work out and maintain your lean mass. Meanwhile, low-intensity workout sessions done towards the end of the fast will help you burn the stubborn fat without losing your muscle mass.
2. It Reduces The Risk Of Diabetes
Approximately 34 million Americans have diabetes with 90-95% of the cases being type 2 diabetes. This kind of diabetes happens when the body is resistant to insulin. Eventually, the production of insulin drops drastically.
Intermittent fasting is believed to be effective at dropping the risk of Type 2 diabetes since it reduces insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.
In one trial available on ScienceDirect, IF reduced fasting insulin by 20-31% and fasting blood sugar by 3-6%. These are impressive results but the researchers recommended additional clinical trials.
While intermittent fasting may be beneficial for Type 2 diabetes, it’s imperative that anyone with the condition consults a licensed physician before they start fasting.
3. It Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is an immune reaction that helps our bodies fight against toxins and other harmful invaders. However, in some cases, the inflammation may last longer than is necessary. It’s also possible for the immune system to deploy inflammatory chemicals when they’re not needed. This is known as chronic inflammation and it’s bad for the body.
Studies show intermittent fasting fights against harmful inflammation. In a trial published on Nutrition Research, Muslims who fasted during the Ramadan season were observed to have fewer pro-inflammatory markers. The same results may be present in individuals doing IF since the concept is almost similar to the Ramadan fasting pattern.
4. It’s Good For Cardiovascular Health
IF improves cardiovascular health which is really crucial since heart diseases are the leading causes of death worldwide. Intermittent fasting supports heart health in various ways. First, it reduces total and bad LDL cholesterol which is directly linked to stroke and other heart diseases. Fasting also promotes heart health by fighting inflammation and oxidative stress.
5. It Can Boost Brain Functions
Intermittent Fasting supports numerous cognitive functions like concentration and memory. Some studies also report that it protects brain cells against different kinds of damage. This means IF may be beneficial against neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
One way fasting protects the brain is by fighting oxidative stress. Oxidative stress happens when free radicals invade and attack cells and tissues. This stress can affect key cells of the brain and other organs. Fasting fights these radicals.
Research also reports fasting can improve brain-derived neurotrophic factor which is crucial in maintaining healthy nerve cells.
6. It May Boost Longevity
Did you know that intermittent fasting can increase your lifespan? This has been confirmed by multiple preclinical trials. In fact, in one of the studies, rats fasting every other day outlived the ones that didn’t fast by 83%!
It’s clear that there is more to intermittent fasting than weight loss. However, we would encourage you to follow a suitable routine that’s in line with your needs and current health status.