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Evidence-Based Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

benefits of intermittent fasting

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Intermittent fasting or IF is an ancient health secret. It has been practiced in the entire history of mankind. Many studies show that it can have powerful effects on your body and mind. In addition, it can help you live longer. Here are the benefits of intermittent fasting.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of food that runs from time to time. It does not show which foods to eat, but when to eat them. In this respect, it is more accurately described as a diet (1, 3).

Intermittent fasting is a part of normal daily life. Maybe it is the oldest and most powerful dietary method possible. However, common intermittent fasting practices involve 16 to 24-hour fasting daily or twice a week.

People from ancient times did not have all-year-round supermarkets, fridges or food. They couldn’t find anything to eat sometimes. However, In the past, people have grown for long to live without food. Actually, it is more natural to fast from time to time, rather than to eat 3 to 4 meals a day.

Fasting is often practiced in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism, for religious and spiritual purposes. There are many methods available for intermittent fasting. Therefore, the 14/10 rule is one of those methods. This basically means you skip the meal for 14 hours from morning till evening or even 20 hours.

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating which runs from time to time. It is popular among the health and fitness enthusiast today.

Intermittent Fasting Helps You Lose Weight

Intermittent fasting is a wonderful weight loss practice. If you stop eating foods, you can reduce calorie intake by intermittent fasting. In addition, intermittent fasting changes in the hormone level to make weight loss easier (4).

It increases the release of the fat-burning hormone Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline) and growth hormone. Because of these hormonal changes, your metabolic rate can increase by up to 14% (5).

By consuming fewer calories and burn more calories, intermittent fasting leads to a successful weight loss. However, intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool for weight loss according to several studies.

A study found that 3 to 8 percent of weight loss over 3 to 24 weeks could be because of this food pattern, which is essential compared to most weight loss studies. Another study showed that fasting causes less lean muscle loss compared to other methods (7, 8).

However, fasting helps you eat fewer calories. In general, it is the primary reason for its success. You can not lose weight in any way when you eat a lot of food during the day.

Intermittent fasting can boost your metabolism and help you eat fewer calories.

Intermittent Fasting is Free

Where diets can be costly, intermittent fasting is free. In addition, fasting saves time where diets can take time. Intermittent fasting can facilitate things because you don’t have to schedule or cook as many foods as before.

Therefore, intermittent fasting is popular with people who hack their lives because it improves their health.

An important part of intermittent fasting is that it simplifies life. In addition, it is free of cost.

Intermittent Fasting Can Increase Growth Hormone

Fasting has some significant effects on your body. For instance, your body changes the hormone levels to improve the accessibility of stored body fat. Often, the cells start crucial processes of restoring and alter gene expression. Here are some changes happening in your body while you’re fasting:

  • Human growth hormone increases
  • Insulin sensitivity increases
  • Cells launch repair procedures

The health benefits of fasting apply to these changes in hormone levels and cell function (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17).

When you fast, your growth hormone levels rise and the insulin level decreases.

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

1. Intermittent fasting, as mentioned above, can help you lose weight and abdominal fat without limiting calories (19).

2. Intermittent fasting can reduce blood sugar, insulin resistance by 3-6% and protects against type 2 diabetes  (20).

3. Certain studies show that inflammatory markers, a key driver of many chronic diseases, are reduced (21, 22, 23).

4. Fasting can decrease LDL cholesterol and prevents cardiovascular risk factors (25).

5. Fasting may prevent cancer (27, 28, 29, 30).

6. Fasting increases the BDNF brain hormone. In addition, it can also protect you from Alzheimer’s (31, 32, 33, 34).

7. Fasting can prolong lifespan. Research shows that fasted rats lived up to 83% longer (35, 36).

Side Note: These studies are in their early stages. Many studies have been small, short-term or animal-based. Therefore, we need quality human studies (37).

Intermittent fasting can have impressive effects on your brain and body. It can lead to weight loss and can decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Risk Factors and Side Effects

The primary side effect of fasting is hunger. This may only take a few days because your body needs some time to adjust to the alternative meal plan. You should consult your doctor before trying fasting if you have a medical condition. If you’re overall healthy and well-fed, then there is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while.

Fasting is not for everybody. You must not fast without consulting a health practitioner if you are underweight or have a history of an eating disorder. Some evidence suggests that fasting might not help women. In addition, you should note that fasting may increase some risk in skinny women.

One study showed that insulin sensitivity improved in males, but blood sugar control worsened among females. While human research is not available on this topic, studies in rats show that fasting can emaciate female rats and cause them to miss cycles (38, 3940).

People who have a history of eating disorders or are underweight should not fast. Females that are skinny, pregnant, or lactating should not fast. Fasting has the most common side effect of hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting a doctor.

The Bottom Line

Fasting offers many benefits that can not be obtained in traditional diets. Where diets complicate life, fasting may simplify it. As already discussed, fasting is a potentially powerful method for insulin reduction and weight loss.

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Naeem Durrani BSc
Naeem Durrani is a freelance journalist who specializes in health and wellness innovation. His interests include medical research, nutrition, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices that empower people to positively transform their lives.
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