10 Proven Benefits of intermittent fasting
An eating habit known as ‘intermittent fasting’ or ‘I.F.’ cycles between eating and fasting times. Intermittent fasting comes in numerous forms, including the 16/8 and 5:2 schedules. Many studies have shown that it can have significant advantages for your body and brain.
Here are 10 proven benefits of intermittent fasting, supported by research.
1. Intermittent fasting can modify how hormones, cells, and genes work
The body goes through a number of changes when you go without food for a period.
For instance, your body starts vital cellular repair procedures and modifies hormone levels to make body fat that has been accumulated more accessible.
Here are a few changes that take place in your body while you’re fasting:
- Insulin/ Glucose levels. Significant drops in blood insulin levels facilitate fat burning (1).
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels in the blood could rise sharply. Increased levels of this hormone promote muscular growth and fat loss, among many other advantages (2, 3, 4, 5).
- Cell regeneration aka ‘Autophagy’. The body initiates crucial cellular repair activities, such as clearing cells of trash (6).
- Numerous advantages of intermittent fasting are linked to these modifications in hormone levels, cellular processes, and gene expression. (7).
Lots of the advantages of intermittent fasting are linked to these modifications in hormone levels, cellular processes, and gene expression.
By reducing food in-take, insulin levels fall and human growth hormone (HGH) rise. Your cells also initiate key cellular repair processes and change the genes they express.
2. Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and importantly, visceral fat
Many people who experiment with intermittent fasting do so to lose weight (8).
In general, intermittent fasting causes you to eat fewer meals and so helps to reduce calorie intake.
You won’t wind up eating as many calories overall unless you make up for it by eating significantly more at the other meals.
Intermittent fasting also improves hormone activity to aid in weight loss.
Increased concentrations of norepinephrine (noradrenaline), lower insulin levels, and higher HGH levels all promote the breakdown of body fat and make it easier to utilise it as fuel.
Because of this, short-term fasting actually helps you burn more calories by raising your metabolic rate.
Intermittent fasting, therefore, affects both sides of the calorie equation. It improves calorie expenditure (metabolic rate) while decreasing food intake (reduces calories in).
An analysis of the scientific literature from 2014 found that intermittent fasting can result in weight loss of 3-8% over the course of 3–24 weeks. This sum is enormous (9).
Over a period of 6 to 24 weeks, the study participants also dropped 4-7% of their waist circumference, which suggests significant visceral fat loss. Visceral fat is the disease-causing fat found in the abdominal cavity (10).
Additionally, a 2011 review revealed that intermittent fasting reduced muscle loss more so than ongoing calorie restriction (11).
A 2020 randomised trial, however, focused on those who used the 16/8 strategy. On this regimen, you have an 8-hour window to eat and must fast for 16 hours each day.
Contrary to popular belief, those who fasted did not significantly lose more weight than those who ate three meals per day. The researchers also discovered that those who fasted lost a considerable quantity of lean mass after physically assessing a portion of the subjects. Among them were lean muscles (12).
More research is required to determine how fasting affects muscle loss. Taking everything into account, intermittent fasting has the potential to be a very effective weight loss strategy.
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You can eat less calories while also modestly increasing metabolism by engaging in intermittent fasting. It is a highly powerful strategy for shedding pounds and visceral fat.
3. I.F. can lower insulin resistance, which lowers your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In recent decades, type 2 diabetes has increased in prevalence as a diagnosis.
High blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance are its primary characteristic.
Anything that lowers insulin resistance ought to lower blood sugar levels and prevent type 2 diabetes, according to research.
It’s interesting that intermittent fasting has been demonstrated to significantly improve insulin resistance and cause a striking drop in blood sugar levels (10).
Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower fasting blood sugar in persons with prediabetes by 3-6% over the course of 8–12 weeks in human studies. Fasting insulin levels have decreased by 20–31%.
Intermittent fasting also increased survival rates and provided protection against diabetic retinopathy in a study of diabetic mice. One complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy – aka blindness.
This suggests that those who are at high risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes may benefit greatly from intermittent fasting.
There might be some variations between the sexes, though. One 2005 study in women found that following a 22-day intermittent fasting protocol, blood sugar control actually got worse. (14).
Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels, at least in men.
4. It can lower the body’s oxidative stress and inflammation.
One of the factors that contribute to ageing and many chronic diseases is oxidative stress.
Free radicals, inherently unstable chemicals, are involved. Other crucial components, like protein and DNA, are damaged by free radical reactions.
According to several research papers, intermittent fasting may increase the body’s ability to fend off oxidative damage.
Additionally, research indicates that intermittent fasting can aid in the battle against inflammation, another major factor in the development of many common diseases.
According to studies, the body’s oxidative stress and inflammation can be decreased by intermittent fasting. This ought to protect against ageing and the emergence of many diseases.
5. There may be benefits for heart health
The leading cause of death worldwide right now is heart disease.
It is well established that several health indicators, or “risk factors,” are linked to either an elevated or lowered risk of developing heart disease.
Numerous different risk factors have been demonstrated to be improved by intermittent fasting, including:
- Reducing high blood sugar
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing total blood triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol; two indicators of inflammation.
However, a lot of this is based on research with animals.
Before suggestions can be made, additional extensive human studies on the impact of fasting on heart health are required.
Research indicates that intermittent fasting can lower a number of heart disease risk variables, including blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and inflammatory markers.
6. Fasting stimulates various cellular repair processes
The body’s cells begin a process known as autophagy, or cellular “trash clearance,” while we fast (6).
This entails the breakdown and metabolization of damaged and malfunctioning proteins that accumulate inside cells over time.
A rise in autophagy may offer defence against a variety of illnesses, including cancer and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
A metabolic process called autophagy, which eliminates waste from cells, is triggered by fasting.
7. Intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of developing cancer
One of the features of cancer is uncontrolled cell growth in the body, often leading to the “lumps” that can be felt.
It has been demonstrated that fasting has a number of positive metabolic benefits that may lower the risk of cancer.
Intermittent fasting or diets that imitate fasting may help prevent cancer, according to promising data from animal research. Similar results have been seen in human research, although additional research is required.
Additionally, some evidence suggests that fasting decreased several chemotherapeutic adverse effects in people (29).
In both animal experiments and some human studies, intermittent fasting has been shown to aid in the prevention of cancer. Human studies have also demonstrated that it can lessen the negative effects of chemotherapy.
8. Your brain may also benefit
Oftentimes, what is excellent for the body is also beneficial for the brain.
Different metabolic processes that are known to be crucial for brain health are also improved by intermittent fasting.
Reduced by intermittent fasting are:
- Oxidative stress and inflammation reduction
- Lowering high blood sugar
- Improving insulin sensitivity in the body
Intermittent fasting may promote the creation of new nerve cells, according to several studies in mice and rats, which should improve brain health.
Additionally, a hormone in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor is increased by fasting (BDNF). A lack of BDNF has been linked to depression and a number of other issues with the brain.
Additionally, studies on animals have demonstrated that intermittent fasting guards against stroke-related brain damage.
The health of the brain may be significantly improved by intermittent fasting. It might promote the development of new neurons and shield the brain from harm.
9. Could intermittent fasting help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
The most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the world is Alzheimer’s disease.
Since there is presently no cure for Alzheimer’s, it is imperative to prevent the disease from ever developing.
Intermittent fasting may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s or lessen its severity, according to studies done on rats and mice.
In a series of case studies, 90% of those who underwent a lifestyle intervention that included daily short-term fasts saw a significant improvement in their Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Furthermore, research on animals suggests that fasting may offer protection against other neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disorders.
However, further human research is required.
Intermittent fasting may offer protection against neurodegenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, according to studies conducted on animals.
10. It just may increase your life span and help you live a longer, healthier life
The capacity of intermittent fasting to increase longevity may be one of its most intriguing applications.
Intermittent fasting extends life expectancy in mice in a manner comparable to chronic calorie restriction, according to studies (41).
Fruit flies’ lifespans have also been demonstrated to increase with intermittent fasting.
The results of some of this research were fairly striking. In a previous experiment, rats that were fasted every other day lived 83% longer than those that weren’t.
In a 2017 study, mice who were fasted every other day had an approximate 13% longer lifetime.
Male mice’s general health was also found to be enhanced by daily fasting. It assisted in delaying the emergence of ailments including fatty liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, both of which are frequent in old mice.
Intermittent fasting has grown to be highly well-liked among those who fight ageing, despite the fact that this has not yet been proven in people.
It makes it obvious that intermittent fasting could contribute to a longer and healthier life given the benefits it has been shown to have on metabolism and a variety of health markers.
Intermittent fasting may help you live longer, according to studies in animals.
What’s the overall verdict on intermittent fasting?
Although intermittent fasting is a widely popular weight-loss strategy, it also has other advantages. Studies on both animals and humans show that it can help you live a longer, better life overall.
Intermittent fasting can be performed in a variety of ways. Some techniques call for abstinence during specific times of the day. Other approaches limit your fasting to specific days of the week. Results and methods differ.
If you’re interested in beginning intermittent fasting, think about scheduling a consultation with your physician or a nutritionist right away. They can assist you in determining your level of safety.
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