Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you eat and then fast for certain hours of the day. This eating pattern is becoming an increasingly popular option for health-conscious people who want to reap the potential health benefits associated with this cycle of eating and fasting.
Numerous studies show that this can have a powerful effect on the body and brain. Here are four reasons why you should consider adopting this eating habit.
It Changes Cells, Hormones, and Genes
Intermittent fasting changes the function of cells, hormones, and genes. This is because when you don’t eat for an extended time several changes occur in your body, such as cellular recycle and repair processes, which is known as autophagy. There are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease. Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting stem from the changes that take place in cells, hormones, and genes.
Reduce Insulin Resistance
Diabetes is on the rise. Many of us are all too aware of the health problems associated with this disease, and for this reason, we need to improve our diets and make better lifestyle choices.
Whether this is in the form of intermittent fasting or simply eating a healthy balanced diet each day, it doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is that we actively strive to improve our health.
For some people, intermittent fasting could help because it can reduce insulin resistance and help to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range. High blood sugar levels are the main feature of type 2 diabetes, so opting for an eating plan that can reduce insulin resistance may be beneficial to your health.
Facilitate Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting usually helps you to eat fewer meals throughout the day as eating is generally restricted between certain hours depending on the option you choose. However, this cycle of eating could be compromised if you eat a lot of calorific meals and snacks during the duration of the time you permit yourself to eat. Thus, it works best when it is used in conjunction with healthy eating.
This eating pattern also enhances hormone function which is beneficial because it aids weight loss. Even short-term fasting has been shown to increase metabolic rate by 3.6 to 14 percent. This is ideal for weight loss because it helps your body to burn more calories while simultaneously making you want to eat fewer meals.
A 2014 scientific literature review noted that intermittent fasting can cause a three to eight percent weight loss over three to 24 weeks. Additionally, the participants who took part in the study lost between four to seven percent of their waist circumference. This infers that they lost a lot of belly fat which is significant as it’s this type of fat that is associated with cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
It May Extend Life Span
People who fast intermittently may potentially extend their lifespan. In one scientific study, rats that fasted every other day lived 83 percent longer than the rats that didn’t fast at all. However, while this research is eye-opening, more research needs to be done to see if we can apply these findings to humans.
Three Popular Intermittent Fasting Methods
The good thing about this style of eating is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are different ways of embracing this diet, so you could try all three methods and choose the one that works best for you.
The 16/8 Method
As the name suggests, this fasting approach requires you to eat within an eight-hour time frame and fast for sixteen hours of the day. Some people who prefer this eating style adapt it by fasting for fourteen hours and eating within a ten-hour time frame. Some research suggests that it’s more beneficial for women to fast for no more than fifteen hours at a time.
During periods of fasting, you can drink water, zero-calorie fluids, and coffee if it is black. It’s worth reiterating that this eating method will only work if you eat a healthy balanced diet.
The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 Diet or Fast Diet as it is also known may suit you better if you lead a busy lifestyle and would find it a challenge to stick to a 16/8 diet.
This diet involves eating normally for five days and fasting for two days of the week. While fasting you can eat up to 500 calories if you’re a woman and 600 calories if you’re a man.
If you want the potential benefits of intermittent fasting without going all-in so to speak, then this could be the best option for you.
Eat Stop Eat
The Eat Stop Eat option is similar to the 5:2 method, but instead of being allowed to consume 500/600 calories on fasting days with this one, you don’t eat at all on these days. However, you have the option of fasting for one or two days a week.
Opting for this eating cycle might be a challenge if you’re not used to intermittent fasting. It is quite difficult to go a whole twenty-four hours without eating if there is no build-up to it. Although, with this method, you can drink zero-calorie beverages while fasting, and on all non-fasting days, you are encouraged to eat sensibly.
Intermittent fasting can effectively aid weight-loss, and may even be beneficial for your health in other ways. However, this style of eating won’t benefit everyone. If you have a health condition or have an eating disorder, it’s best to discuss any potential dietary changes with your physician first.