Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a powerful approach that facilitates weight loss and helps reduce your risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A large and growing body of medical research supports the use of intermittent fasting, showing it has a wide range of benefits.
Weight loss is a very common reason for people to try intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight (and belly fat), just by cutting the time frame you have to eat.
By making you eat fewer meals, intermittent fasting can lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake.
Intermittent fasting can bust stubborn fat, reducing calories, and rewiring your metabolism for better performance.
Belly fat seems to be affected by this type of weight loss program. There have been studies that show that the fat around your waist can significantly be reduced by intermittent fasting. That’s a huge plus! Belly fat is the most dangerous type. (1)
Another study showed that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than the more standard method of continuous calorie restriction. (1)
However, keep in mind that the main reason for its success with intermittent fasting is that it helps you eat fewer calories overall. If you eat a ton during your eating period, you may not lose any weight at all.
Studies show that intermittent fasting also fast tracks weight loss. In one study, a 2015 review pooling 40 different studies, participants lost on average 10 pounds in a 10-week period. Another study found that obese adults doing an alternate day intermittent fasting protocol, who ate 25% of their daily calories on one day, and then eating normal on the following day, lost up to 13 pounds over 8 weeks. (1)
When you’re in a fasted state your body can burn fat that’s normally been inaccessible when you’re in your normal eating pattern.
It’s not that often our bodies are in this fasting state because we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal. Many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that’s difficult to make it to during a normal eating schedule.
How It Affects Your Cells and Hormones
When you fast, several things happen in your body on the cellular level. (4)
To make stored body fat more accessible, your body adjusts hormone levels.
Here are some changes that occur in your body when you fast:
Cellular repair: Your cells initiate cellular repair processes when they’re in a fasted state. This includes autophagy. Autophagy is where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells. That’s not the only thing but highly significant. But how can one simple change possibly do all this? This makes room for the regeneration of new, healthier cells and tissues, which affects longevity and helps reverse diseases. It’s even been shown to play a role in improving immunity and decreasing inflammation. Fasting actually gives your body a break from digesting and allows it to focus on other things. (2) Amazing, right!?
• Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone increase at an almost alarming level, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain.
• Insulin: Insulin sensitivity is increased and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Stored body fat is now more accessible.
• Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to protection against disease longevity.
These changes in hormone levels, cell function, and gene expression are responsible for the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
When you fast, HCG levels go up and insulin levels go down. Your body’s cells also change the expression of genes and initiate important cellular repair processes. In addition to lowering insulin and increasing growth hormone levels, it increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Because of these changes in hormones, short-term fasting may increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14%. (3)
It Simplifies Your Life
Keep it Simple
When you adopt an intermittent fasting lifestyle, well it just makes your life much easier!
The reason most diets fail isn’t because we switch to the wrong foods, it’s because we don’t actually follow the diet over the long term. It’s not a nutrition problem, it’s a behavior change problem.
Before I practiced intermittent fasting, I obsessed about waking up early to cook breakfast, prep 6 meals a day, etc. Now that I intermittent fast, my life is a lot more simple. I eat one or two major meals a day, I don’t obsess about what I eat and still make consistent progress to improve my health every day. Simplifying my life in this way has freed up more time and energy to focus on what really matters to me.
Eating healthy is simple, but it can be super hard to maintain. One of the main barriers is all the work required to plan for and cook healthy meals. Intermittent fasting can make things easier. There’s a lot less clean up, preparation, and even thinking involved. You’re not eating as many meals so that leave much more time to do other important things in your life.
Health and simplicity go hand and hand. The healthiest foods are often the easiest to prepare, like a piece of lean chicken breast or an apple. Being healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. These basic foods are some of the healthiest you can eat. 6 meals and/or snacks a day are a lot more work than preparing 2-3 simple meals.
Intermittent fasting improves your health while simplifying your life at the same time.
Other Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Reduces inflammation: Lowering inflammation is key to boosting longevity, losing weight, and reducing your risk of major illnesses such as and cancer and Alzheimer’s . Intermittent fasting decreases oxidative stress and inflammation across the board. Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, like adiponectin, leptin, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. (3)
- Lowers insulin levels: Intermittent fasting acts on insulin in two ways. It boosts your adiponectin levels, which helps restore insulin sensitivity to prevent diabetes and weight gain. Second, fasting decreases your fasting insulin levels. Lowered insulin is the sign your body needs to make the switch to burning stored fat instead of glucose. Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes. (3)
- Heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce bad LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance. These are all risk factors for heart disease. Studies show that intermittent fasting can improve numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers. (3)
- Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer.
- Brain health: Intermittent fasting may aid the growth of new nerve cells and increases the brain hormone BDNF. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s.
- Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats lived 36–83% longer.
Wow, so there you go. Look at all these benefits of intermittent fasting. There’s no denying that it’s going to make a significant positive impact on your overall health. So, what are you waiting for?! Just do it! Take the next step in your health and fitness journey and join millions of people who have bettered their life with intermittent fasting.