Supports Brain Health And Function
Intermittent fasting may help improve memory and mental performance and support brain health/function by protecting neurons in the brain against deterioration and dysfunction .
Emerging evidence suggests that intermittent fasting could be a useful intervention in neurodegenerative diseases such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, and stroke .
Keep in mind that it’s not simply the act of fasting alone that may have these potential benefits, decreased inflammation, reductions in body fat, and healthier blood sugar levels have all been linked to healthy brain function.
How Does The 1: 12 Diet Work
Intermittent fasting relies on the feed-fast cycle. With regular food consumption, the main source of our energy is sugar, but when fasting, the blood sugar levels drop. This drop stimulates our body to utilize its storage of fatty acid as a source of energy . This cycle is known as the feed-fast cycle.
Benefits To Gut Health
Short periods of fasting, such as skipping breakfast , may benefit your gut microbes, explains Professor Tim Spector of Kings College London in his book Spoon-Fed. Although research in the field is in its early stages, accumulating evidence suggests that during fasting, certain species of microbes replicate and feed off carbohydrates in the gut lining. This makes the gut barrier healthier and more efficient.
One explanation for this could be that gut microbes follow a circadian rhythm like you do. Microbe communities, like us, may also need to rest and recuperate as part of a daily circadian rhythm which could be important for our gut health, writes Spector.
Everyones body responds differently to skipping meals, so Spector suggests experimenting by giving breakfast or another meal a miss to see how you feel. Leaving a minimum of 12 hours between eating, even if its only occasionally, could improve your mood and energy levels in the short term , he argues.
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What Are The Benefits Of Not Being Full All The Time
Regular breaks between eating give our bodies time to carry out valuable housekeeping, according to Dr Collins. After a meal, you absorb the glucose from carbohydrates in food for energy, and either use it immediately or store it for later. In a fasted state, which typically starts 1012 hours after your last meal, the body is depleted of this form of glucose. Then the liver begins to break down stored fat into fatty acids called ketones to use as fuel. This process is known as metabolic switching and is a reason why fasting can lead to weight loss.
But emerging science suggests fasting activates certain chemicals and processes that confer health benefits beyond losing weight. Its also thought to encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that could be good for us in many different ways.
The problem is, most of us are too full for too much of the time to experience these benefits, says Collins. Eating three meals a day plus snacks, as many of us do, means were in a constantly fed state. As a result, our bodies continuously process new intakes of food instead of dealing with fat reserves.
All the things we associate with poor metabolic health and disease risk cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, diabetes and low energy are essentially a manifestation of fuel mismanagement, he says. Eating in a grazing pattern means youre not able to store, liberate and utilise fuel in the right way.
What Are The Types Of Intermittent Fasting
There are a variety of styles or plans of intermittent fasting that have been studied in animals and, increasingly, in humans. Generally, they fall into three categories: time-restricted eating, intermittent calorie restriction, and periodic fasting. All of these have demonstrated health benefits in animal studies, and many of those benefits seem to translate to human studies, too. Like all areas of research, more conclusive studies are in the works that will shed vital light on fasting and long-term health.
- Time-restricted eating is the practice of limiting calorie intake to a certain window of time each day, usually to 10 hours, eight hours, or six hours. You might see that written as 16:8 or 14:10 intermittent fasting, which means 16 hours of fasting and eight hours of eating. The goal is to follow the regimen every day or most days.
- Intermittent calorie restriction calls for reducing daily caloric intake to 5001,000 calories, for two consecutive days per week. This is also called 5:2 intermittent fasting or the 5:2 diet .
- Periodic fasting calls for limiting caloric intake for between three and five days, either with no food or with a calorie-restricted diet that keeps the body in a state that mimics fasting. This type of intermittent fasting should always be done under the supervision of a doctor.
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What Is The 1: 12 Diet
It is the least extreme variation of IF in which you fast for 12 hours and eat for 12 hours as well. Unlike traditional diets, IF restricts when you can eat, not how much you can eat. Basically, its a time-restricted diet rather than a calorie-restricted one.
The 12 fasting hours include your sleeping time, so if you sleep for at least 7 hours a day, you will technically be fasting for only 5 hours. During those fasting hours, you are allowed to drink water, black coffee, or tea, but no food consumption is allowed.
You will then have 12 hours in which you can eat, preferably still following a healthy diet.
Increases Brain Function And Health
There is more to brain function than mental health and concentration. Improved cognitive, memory and learning functioning is essential for good brain health.
Studies display how intermittent fasting improves metabolic processes which aid better brain functioning. The timed eating restrictions encourage new cells to produce more regularly and induce BDNF expression.
Intermittent fasting helps the brain reproduce cells and remove old cells. This improves overall brain health. Better brain functioning helps better memory, learning ability and cognitive functions.
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What To Eat During Your Feeding Window
When you practice any form of fasting, proper nutrition is essential. You have a limited window in which to cram protein, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols. You need to make that window count.
Whenever possible, select foods based on nutrient density. For example, vegetables are more nutrient-dense than grains, meat and fish are more nutrient-dense than protein powder, and real eggs are more nutrient-dense than chocolate eggs. .
Your calories during feeding windows will come from protein, fat, and carbsthe three main macronutrients. Of the three, focus on getting enough protein first to help maintain muscle, synthesize hormones, and support a vast array of biochemical reactions.
Because protein kickstarts the growth and repair process, its wise to break your fast with a high-protein meal. Meat, fish, and eggs are all excellent sources, or opt for tofu or tempeh for a plant-based protein boost.
For fasts 24 hours or longer, make your first meal back a high-protein snack of 200-300 calories. . This helps put the brakes on muscle loss and stimulates satiety hormones, so you dont subsequently overeat.
One final point is to consider eating a Keto diet to support your fasting regimen. Eating Keto helps you fat-adapt. This makes it easier to access body fat during a fast and simultaneously helps to reduce hunger hormones.
The point is that Keto and fasting work together like a Swiss bobsled team: efficiently.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe
Some people try intermitting fasting for weight management, and others use the method to address chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol or arthritis. But intermittent fasting isnt for everyone.
Williams stresses that before you try intermittent fasting , you should check in with your primary care practitioner first. Some people should steer clear of trying intermittent fasting:
- Children and teens under age 18.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People with diabetes or blood sugar problems.
- Those with a history of eating disorders.
But, Williams says, people not in these categories who can do intermittent fasting safely can continue the regimen indefinitely. It can be a lifestyle change, she says, and one with benefits.
Keep in mind that intermittent fasting may have different effects on different people. Talk to your doctor if you start experiencing unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea or other symptoms after you start intermittent fasting.
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Intermittent Fasting And Sleeping
Besides staying without food for the said period, it is better to sleep during the fasting hours. Intermittent 12 hour fasting at night is easier because you will be asleep for the most part, say 7 hours. However, if you fast during the day, you may need to take a nap and keep yourself busy to avoid thinking about food that will lead to relapse.
You can begin by fasting weekly, then on several days of the week before making it a day to day routine. If you are fasting for specific days a week, for example, five days a week, eat as usual on the non-fasting days. Note that you may become irritable, and your concentration may momentarily dip during the fasting period as you begin this healthy journey. The good news is that your body will adjust within a month, and the side effects should disappear. If they are particularly severe or donât go away, consider stopping your fasting routine and discuss with your doctor.
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Skipping Meals Can Cause Headaches Dizziness And Nausea
Long periods of fasting can lower your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling lightheaded, dizzy, with headaches, and/or nausea.
If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe to try intermittent fasting. People with type 1 diabetes and/or on diabetic medications may be more susceptible to unwanted side effects or struggle with controlling their blood sugar levels .
Your body will also need some time to adjust, so try choosing a day of the week or period of time that you dont need to be very active or deeply concentrate when first starting a fasting practice.
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Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Some studies suggest that adopting an intermittent fasting practice may help with weight loss, improve memory and mental performance, cardiovascular health, type 2 diabetes, and the effectiveness of cancer treatments .
While much of this research comes from animal studies, emerging human data has offered promising results – especially related to the potential for helping with weight loss and improving some aspects of nutrition-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease .
It’s important to note that the long-term effects of intermittent fasting have not been fully established, but current research shows some promising short-term benefits that we’ve outlined in our list below. Additionally, while the potential benefits of fasting are exciting, there is not enough research to proclaim it is more effective for weight loss or improving health than a basic healthy eating approach.
What To Eat On A 5 2 Intermittent Fast
Limiting calories on those 2 days makes it tough to create sustainable meals. Be sure to follow a clean, whole foods diet during the 5 days of eating normally. Then, choose balance whole foods such as: raw fruits and vegetables to help your stomach stay full longer. Pair this with fiber, such as oatmeal and plant-based proteins like flaxseeds and hemp seeds. A big green smoothie is also helpful.
You can also consider drinking water, coffee and other drinks that have no calories. This does help reduce the feelings of hunger and make it a little easier to transition.
Embracing the 5 2 Intermittent fasting method still reaps the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
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Intermittent Fasting Schedules: Alternate
Another way of looking at ADF is as three 36-hour fasts per week. Heres an example schedule eat normally on Monday until 6pm. Dont eat at all until breakfast on Wednesday morning. Finish dinner by around 6pm Wednesday night. Now dont eat again until breakfast on Friday. Eat normally the rest of the day and finish dinner by 6pm or so Friday night. Now dont eat again until breakfast on Sunday.
With this intermittent fasting plan, you may allow yourself up to 500 or so calories on fast days, though many people prefer to not consume any calories. If you take the former approach, its important to get most of those calories from good fats like olive oil and to avoid carbohydrates. Carbs will kick you out of ketosis and diminish the benefits of ADF. One example of a low-carb meal that is below 500 calories is some leafy greens with a tablespoon of olive oil and a handful of almonds.
Examples Of Healthy Foods
- Avocados are recommended because they have monounsaturated fats that are very satisfying. Taking avocado with your meals can make you full for hours longer than if you did not include it in the meal.
- A large egg contains 6 grams of proteins, which is important for keeping you satisfied and building muscle.
- Beans and legumes have low-calorie and high-fiber carbs.
- Berries have vital nutrients such as vitamin C that boosts immunity.
- Fish is rich in healthy omega-3 fats, protein, and vitamin D.
- Kefir, Kombucha, or Kraut are probiotic-rich foods that can be included in the meals.
- Nuts have good fats. For instance, the polyunsaturated fats in walnuts alter biological markers for satiety and hunger.
- Potatoes can help in weight loss. Just be sure to prepare them healthily. For instance, avoid French fries or potato chips and go for roasted, boiled, or mashed potatoes.
- Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts contain fiber, preventing constipation, and making you feel full. This will help you feel comfortable without food for 12 hours.
- Whole grains such as sorghum, millet, and bulgur have fiber and protein, therefore making you feel full. They also turn up your metabolic rate.
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Intermittent Fasting Schedules And Their Benefits
Luisa Torres, PhDLuisa is a science communications manager at LifeOmic. She is a neuroscientist and science writer covering topics related to aging, metabolism, and brain health.
Luisa Torres, PhDLuisa is a science communications manager at LifeOmic. She is a neuroscientist and science writer covering topics related to aging, metabolism, and brain health.
Intermittent fasting involves avoiding calories for a period of time. It is a simple way to control your weight that doesnt require you to follow a specific diet, count calories, measure food, or follow other complicated rules. Intermittent fasting benefits include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, improved blood sugar control, reduced blood pressure, reduced inflammation and increased autophagy. Although its not a diet, you can get the most benefit from intermittent fasting if you focus on eating natural foods most days of the week. You should also limit your intake of meals or snacks that are processed or high in sugar.
There are many intermittent fasting methods you can try. Well talk about some of the most popular here. Use this guide to create an intermittent fasting plan that works for you!
What intermittent fasting schedule should you follow? Consider the following 5 categories:
Are There Any Risks
Intermittent fasting is not safe for some people, including people who are pregnant, children, people at risk for hypoglycemia or people with certain chronic diseases.
If youre at risk for an eating disorder, you shouldnt attempt any sort of fasting diet, advises Taylor. Intermittent fasting has also been known to increase the likelihood of binge eating in some people because of the restriction.
If youre interested in trying intermittent fasting, you should also be aware of some not-so-pretty side effects. It can be associated with irritability, low energy, persistent hunger, temperature sensitivity, and poor work and activity performance.
Ultimately, you should contact your healthcare provider and discuss these options. They know your health better than anyone else and can offer the right guidance on whether or not any of these intermittent fasting options are right for you.
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Foods List And Meal Plan
To maximize the potential health benefits of your diet, its important to stick to nutritious whole foods and beverages during your eating periods.
Filling up on nutrient-rich foods helps round out your diet and supports a healthy weight. Try balancing each meal with a wide variety of whole foods, such as:
- Fruits: apples, bananas, berries, oranges, peaches, pears, tomatoes, etc.
- Veggies: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumbers, leafy greens, etc.
- Whole grains: barley, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, oats, etc.
- Healthy fats: olive oil and avocados
- Protein sources: eggs, fish, legumes, meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, etc.
Drinking calorie-free beverages like water and unsweetened tea and coffee, even while fasting, also helps control your appetite while keeping you hydrated.
Its best to avoid ultra-processed foods like packaged snacks, deep-fried items, sugary drinks, and most frozen meals. These negate the positive effects of 16/8 intermittent fasting and may harm your health.
To begin 16/8 intermittent fasting, choose an 8-hour window and limit your food intake to that time span. Be sure to follow a balanced diet based in whole foods.
Animal and human studies suggest that intermittent fasting may increase weight loss, improve blood sugar levels, and extend longevity.