The 14 Proven Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Successful diets are not solely focused on calorie restricting and eliminating foods. They can involve timed eating windows and/or daily eating cycles. This is better known as intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting can offer many health benefits. If not more than traditional dieting methods. It can aid weight loss, control diabetes and prevent health conditions. It has taken time for people to catch on. More people are now, more than ever, trying to diet due to its abundance of impressive results from scientific studies.
Intermittent fasting is now the number one fasting technique. In 2019 it was the top dieting method searched on Google. Since 2010, it has popularised in the Google search engine by over 10,000 per cent. Exceeding other popular and more traditional calorie restricting diets.
Find out more about why its so popular, how it works and the numerous health benefits it offers:
A Better Night’s Sleep
If youve ever felt like you slipped into a food coma after a big meal, you know that diet can have an impact on wakefulness and sleepiness. Some IF followers report being able to sleep better as a result of following this way of eating. IF and mealtimes may have an impact on sleep, Rose-Francis says. Why?
One theory is that IF regulates circadian rhythm, which determines sleep patterns. A regulated circadian rhythm means youll fall asleep easily and wake up feeling refreshed, though research to support this theory is limited, Nature and Science of Sleep.
The other theory centers on the fact that having your last meal earlier in the evening means youll have digested the food by the time you hit the pillow. According to the National Sleep Foundation, digestion is best done when youre upright, and going to sleep with a full stomach can lead to bedtime acid reflux or heartburn, which can make it hard to fall asleep.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Intermittent Fasting
Whenever we need to identify a particular thing as good or bad, we simply explore its merits as well as demerits and decide which of the two outweighs the other, right?
Intermittent fasting is all about deciding when to eat and when to abstain from eating, and it does not deal with what kind of food you eat. Like most things, intermittent fasting has its good points and it not-so-good points. In this post, we give you a taste of each so that you can decide whether or not intermittent fasting is right for you.
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The Benefits Of Fasting Don’t Kick In At The Same Time For Every Person
Experts agree that your personal habits will play a role in when exactly certain health benefits will kick in. “There are very few definites here,” says Vincent Pedre, M.D., an integrative physician and gut health expert who frequently recommends intermittent fasting diets to his patients. “Where you start seeing those benefits depends on what you eat, how healthy your gut health is, what kind of physical activity you’re doing, etc.”
For example, letting calories slip into your fasting window, overeating calorie-dense foods like pizza during your eating window, not prioritizing sleep or physical activity, or making one of these intermittent-fasting mistakes could all delay or counteract the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Even if you’re formulating the rest of your diet and lifestyle perfectly, it’s important to understand that the different health benefits associated with intermittent fasting will likely kick in at different durations of fasting. For example, weight loss may be triggered by a relatively short fasting window, while entering ketosis or triggering autophagythat “self-cleaning” cellular process that boosts brain functioning and maybe even longevitymay take significantly longer.
Con: It Can Be Hard To Stick With Long
Intermittent fasting requires that you go a designated period of time without eating at all, then you eat a designated amount of calories in a specific window of time, and repeat in order to create a caloric deficit. This prolonged period of zero calorie consumption can be difficult to stick with long-term due to low energy, cravings, habits, and the discipline required to stick to the specific time frames surrounding your periods of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is also hard to stick with long-term due to the amount of self-control required to do so. Both sides of intermittent fasting can be difficult not eating when you’re supposed to be fasting, and not bingeing when it’s time to eat is equally important.
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Restrictive Eating Can Influence Disordered Eating
Any diet that supports skipping meals or restrictive eating can trigger some not-so-great food relationships. Especially when the positive weight loss effects are directly impacted by not eating, or restricting food intake.
This isn’t a great mindset to go into fasting with and can lead some people to take intermittent fasting too far, developing disordered eating patterns, or getting caught up in a yo-yo dieting cycle.
Not to mention that not eating enough calories each day to meet your basic needs can lead to nutrient deficiencies, decrease your immunity and create havoc in your body.
Whatever your reason for wanting to intermittent fast, remember to incorporate basic nutrition principles including calorie control and a balanced diet to set yourself up for success.
Going rouge during your non-fasting periods can sabotage any hopes you have for reaping the health benefits when intermittent fasting.
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Are You Ready To Start Intermittent Fasting
To begin this diet routine, you may need some support and guidance. Our 21-day fasting challenge can provide much-needed support and tips to overcome any difficulties and help in easy adaptation. Whether you are new to fasting or experienced, 21-day Intermittent Fasting Challenge can help both. Also, get access to a delicious intermittent fasting meal plan.
So, lets get started. Join us on Monday to kick start your intermittent fasting journey.
More on Intermittent Fasting
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Information on this document and our website is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a dietitian, physician or another health-care professional. Consult your physician before starting intermittent fasting, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any medical condition, or are taking any medication. Read more here.
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Could Help Promote Balance In Other Areas Beyond Food
When we think of intermittent fasting we immediately think of food, since that is what we are limiting. But could we benefit from taking a break from other things in our life?
The basic concept of fasting is to abstain from something for a specific period of time, so what other things could we fast besides food?
Television, social media, and video games to name a few may all be things we could use a break from that may positively impact our health and well-being.
At the end of the day, consciously choosing to reduce or shift our habits can help us create health and wellness goals based on our values and beliefs.
You Can Fast Anywhere Any Time
The stars do not have to align to get started with intermittent fasting. All you need to get started is water and motivation to regain control of your waistline and your health. You can start this morning or this afternoon. You can fast on work trips and you can even squeeze some fasting in while on vacation if you overindulge at any meal. There is no special equipment you need to fast!
Fasting works with every diet and schedule. You can fast at home, in the office, or on an airplane. And, if you feel hungry between meals, you can always grab some water, tea, or coffee on the go.
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Lower Risk Of Cardiovascular Issues
Per the aforementioned Nutrients study, when insulin levels fall, so does the risk of dangerous cardiovascular events, such as congestive heart failure, which is important for patients with type 2 diabetes because they are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes, according to the American Heart Association.
The Nutrients study noted that while there arent human studies to confirm the benefit, observational studies have shown IF may deliver both cardiovascular and metabolic benefits. Lowden suspects that changes to metabolic parameters, such as lower levels of triglycerides and a decrease in blood sugar levels, are the result of losing weight and would be achieved no matter how the weight was lost, whether through IF or a low-carb diet, for example.
Has Benefits For Your Brain
Whats good for the body is often good for the brain as well.
Intermittent fasting improves various metabolic features known to be important for brain health.
Intermittent fasting helps reduce:
Intermittent fasting may have important benefits for brain health. It may increase growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage.
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The Backstory On Intermittent Fasting
IF as a weight loss approach has been around in various forms for ages, but was highly popularized in 2012 by BBC broadcast journalist Dr. Michael Mosleys TV documentary Eat Fast, Live Longer and book The Fast Diet, followed by journalist Kate Harrisons book The 5:2 Diet based on her own experience, and subsequently by Dr. Jason Fungs 2016 bestseller The Obesity Code. IF generated a steady positive buzz as anecdotes of its effectiveness proliferated.
As a lifestyle-leaning research doctor, I needed to understand the science. The Obesity Code seemed the most evidence-based summary resource, and I loved it. Fung successfully combines plenty of research, his clinical experience, and sensible nutrition advice, and also addresses the socioeconomic forces conspiring to make us fat. He is very clear that we should eat more fruits and veggies, fiber, healthy protein, and fats, and avoid sugar, refined grains, processed foods, and for Gods sake, stop snacking. Check, check, check, I agree. The only part that was still questionable in my mind was the intermittent fasting part.
Keeps Cells Healthy And Vibrant
When we fast we give our body time to rest and repair, tending to natural processes put in place to keep our cells healthy. Autophagy is an example of a process our body naturally undergoes to keep our cells healthy and in turn, keep us healthy!
Autophagy is the process our cells go through to remove waste and dysfunctional cells to help our body clean out damaged cells and regenerate new and healthier cells. Evidence suggests when we intermittent fast, we increase the frequency of this process, so our body works harder to remove any unwanted junk and dysfunctioning cells .
Increased autophagy may play a role in protecting us from several diseases including neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, inflammatory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases .
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You May Improve Gut Health
Intermittent fasting may directly influence the gut microbiome: the complex and diverse microbial community that resides in the intestinal tract and plays a significant role in affecting our immunity, weight, stress, and general overall health. When the microbe community in your gut is out of balance, it can result in numerous negative effects, one of which is weight gain and obesity. IF can play a role in mending your gut microbiome by giving your gut a rest . Research shows that this can help the gut lining do a better job of preventing inflammatory toxins from leaking into your bloodstream.
Intermittent Fasting Can Be Hard But Maybe It Doesnt Have To Be
Initial human studies that compared fasting every other day to eating less every day showed that both worked about equally for weight loss, though people struggled with the fasting days. So, I had written off IF as no better or worse than simply eating less, only far more uncomfortable. My advice was to just stick with the sensible, , diet.
New research is suggesting that not all IF approaches are the same, and some are actually very reasonable, effective, and sustainable, especially when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet. So Im prepared to take my lumps on this one .
We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as .
Based on this, researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day ,or spread out over 12 hours . Both groups maintained their weight but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They werent starving.
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Improves Insulin Resistance Which Can Help Diabetes Prevention And Management
Intermittent fasting and weight loss may help reduce fasting blood glucose and improve insulin sensitivity through lowering concentrations of leptin, the hormone produce by fat cells to regulate hunger, and increasing adiponectin, a hormone that plays a role in glucose and lipid metabolism.
In some studies where fasting was used as a weight-loss intervention and strategy for maintaining a healthy weight, people who intermittently fast had lower levels of blood glucose which happens to be a central goal in the prevention and treatment of diabetes .
These possible benefits may be driven more by reductions in body weight and body fat percent stemmed from caloric restriction influenced by intermittent fasting, but research still shows an overall positive effect on blood sugar levels when intermittent fasting .
Intermittent fasting may help improve glycemic control and insulin resistance with a reduction in weight in those with diabetes and those without.
What Are The Minimum Number Of Hours You Can Intermittent Fast & Still Get Benefits
Intermittent fasting is one of the trendiest eating styles of the momentand for good reason. This eating approach can yield a number of impressive results: weight loss, increased fat burn, improved cognitive functioning, reduced inflammation, and potentially even increased longevity.
But all that said, one big question still remains: How long do you have to fast to reap these potentially life-changing rewards? Is there a minimum number of hours you need to restrict food to get the perks?
We asked some leading intermittent fasting experts to weigh in on the topic so you can better tailor your intermittent fasting plan according to your specific goals.
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Can Reduce Insulin Resistance Lowering Your Risk For Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has become a very common diagnosis in recent decades.
Its main feature is high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance.
Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and to lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels .
In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 36% over the course of 812 weeks in people with prediabetes. Fasting insulin has been reduced by 2031% .
One study in mice with diabetes also showed that intermittent fasting improved survival rates and protected against diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication that can lead to blindness .
What this implies is that intermittent fasting may be highly protective for people who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
However, there may be some differences between the sexes. One 2005 study in women showed that blood sugar management actually worsened after a 22-day long intermittent fasting protocol (
Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels, at least in men.
Promotes Better Health By Fighting Inflammation
While acute inflammation is a normal immune process used to help fight off infections, chronic inflammation can have serious consequences for your health.
Research shows that inflammation may be involved in the development of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis .
Some studies have found that fasting can help and help promote better health.
One study in 50 healthy adults showed that intermittent fasting for one month significantly decreased levels of inflammatory markers .
Another small study discovered the same effect when people fasted for 12 hours a day for one month .
Whats more, one animal study found that following a very low-calorie diet to mimic the effects of fasting reduced levels of inflammation and was beneficial in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, a chronic inflammatory condition (
Summary Some studies have found that fasting could decrease several markers of inflammation and may be useful in treating inflammatory conditions, such as multiple sclerosis.
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