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What Happens To Your Body Intermittent Fasting

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I Didn’t Sleep Very Well

What Really Happens When We Fast?

I’m not sure if this was one of the results of intermittent fasting, but I noticed that I didn’t sleep very well during my experiment. After a few days, I woke up multiple times during the night feeling super thirsty and had to get up to drink water before I could fall asleep again. I tried to adjust the types of food I was eating to fix it. Other bloggers who have tried the diet reported similar problems, but I couldn’t find concrete research linking the issue with fasting besides my fellow IFers accounts. I normally don’t have a problem sleeping, so this was definitely a negative side effect.

Youre Not Getting Enough Caloriesor Youre Getting Too Many

Time-restricted eating is exactly that: Youre restricting the timeframe for eating. While it can be used along with calorie reduction, its not meant to be a diet in itself, says Fung.

If youre cutting way back on calories with fasting, then its likely going to backfire, he adds. Thats because restriction has a tendency to make you swing hard in the other direction, toward a binge. When that happens often enough, you may get stuck in a yo-yo pattern that has been shown to have significantly negative effects on your health, especially on cardiovascular function.

Another potential hazard is overeating, since youre trying to smush all your calories into a shorter timeframe. This doesnt mean youre in a binge every day, but you may be eating more than youd planned because youre concerned about being hungry during your fasting window.

Fung suggests setting your calorie intake needs firstbased on factors like your age, weight, and level of activityand then making sure you meet those calorie needs within the timeframe youve chosen. Chat with a registered dietitian or other medical professional if youre not sure how many calories you should fuel with each day.

So Is Intermittent Fasting As Good As It Sounds

I was very curious about this, so I asked the opinion of metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Here is what she told me. “There is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective,” she confirmed, though generally she recommends that people “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them.”

So, heres the deal. There is some good scientific evidence suggesting that circadian rhythm fasting, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be a particularly effective approach to weight loss, especially for people at risk for diabetes.

Read Also: Is Intermittent Fasting Good To Lose Weight

Is Intermittent Fasting A Sustainable Way To Lose Weight

There are also downsides to intermittent fasting. Not all fasting regimes are beneficial and for some, it may lead to headaches, problems concentrating, irritability and feeling faint and tired. It can also be easy to overeat during non-fasting periods too. This is because the hormones linked to appetite and hunger can go into overdrive when you are deprived of food.

It may also be more beneficial to concentrate on eating a balanced diet with plenty of fibre, fruit and vegetables, rather than fasting. “One diet is not right for everyone and the diet may not be sustainable,” says Hall. “There is a lack of long-term studies at present and smaller healthy changes may be more sustainable than a restricted diet.”

Additionally, recent research has suggested that the time in which you eat may be more important than the time spent fasting. Earlier this year, researchers at Northwestern University discovered those who started eating before 8:30 am had lower blood sugar levels and less insulin resistance, which could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

It’s also important to note that intermittent fasting can lead to an unhealthy focus on diet and eating habits too. It can be easy for diet regimes to become all-encompassing, which can lead to disordered eating and anxiety. “For those who have a history of eating disorders, any restrictive diet may be triggering for an eating disorder recurrence,” says Hall.

Intermittent Fasting Can Help Weight Loss

What Intermittent Fasting Does To Your Body

IF makes intuitive sense. The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains , are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells dont use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there.

Between meals, as long as we dont snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.

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Youre Not Playing Around With Your Timeframe

One friend raves about eating only within an eight-hour timeframe daily, but another friend eats in a 12-hour timeframe but fasts for one entire day per weeka strategy known as 7:1and yet another says 10-hour time blocks are the way to go.

Which are you supposed to choose? The expert advice is: All of them.

It takes time to find out what works best for you, and that involves different approaches with the understanding that if youre not seeing benefits, you likely need another strategy,Luiza Petre, M.D., a cardiologist who practices intermittent fasting herselfas well as advises the strategy for patientstells Runners World.

The easiest way to start is with the most common variation first, she suggested, which is an 8-hour block, followed by fasting time that includes sleep. For example, breakfast at 9 a.m. and dinner at 5 p.m. and then not eating again until the next morning.

When youre getting started, its much better to see this as a long-term strategy and experiment with different schedules, rather than think you need to stick to one specific schedule because thats what worked for a friend or family member, Petre says.

You Maintain Muscle Mass

Trying to build muscle and lose weight? Traditional dieting could make that hard to accomplish. Kober says fasting has shown itself to be more effective at preserving lean muscle mass than calorie restriction. What’s more, muscle mass is directly correlated with metabolic rate. That means the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest.

“Losing weight via fasting versus losing weight via calorie restriction means that you will be more likely to lose actual fat, not fat and muscle mass,” Kober says. “This leads to a more desirable body composition and a higher resting metabolic rate .”

Also Check: Why Does Intermittent Fasting Work For Weight Loss

How If May Improve Your Health

Some experts believe IF could boost health in multiple ways. However, research on humans is early and limited. Most studies on the health perks of IF have focused on animals so far.

Whats more, its often unclear how much benefit comes from IFs effects on body chemistry, versus how much comes from weight loss. And in general, there isnt significant proof that IF is better for your health than other weight-loss plans.

That said, IF may help the following:

Induces Various Cellular Repair Processes


When we fast, the cells in the body initiate a cellular waste removal process called autophagy .

This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time.

Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers disease .


Fasting triggers a metabolic pathway called autophagy, which removes waste material from cells.

Recommended Reading: Can You Drink Alcohol While Intermittent Fasting

What Does It Mean When You Say Intermittent Fasting

Feel free to jump straight to the one youre really after. So scroll down and lets get it started! Intermittent fasting is an action of fasting intermittently. It is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and periods of voluntary fasting over the course of the single day, week or other defined period. Huh?

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.

Read Also: When To Workout During Intermittent Fasting

Focus On Healthy Foods

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial and you should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Include plenty of fibre and whole grains in your diet and drink at least six to eight glasses of fluids a day. “On ‘unrestricted’ days try to eat normally with regular meals and a healthy balanced diet rather than eating vast quantities of junk food,” says Hall.

May Extend Your Lifespan Helping You Live Longer

The Benefits Of Fasting

One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan.

Studies in rodents have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan in a similar way as continuous calorie restriction .

Intermittent fasting has also been shown to increase the lifespans of fruit flies 30443-3.pdf” rel=”nofollow”> 43).

In some of these studies, the effects were quite dramatic. In an older study, rats that were fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who werent fasted .

In a 2017 study, mice that were fasted every other day saw their lifespans increase by around 13% .

Daily fasting was also shown to improve the overall health of male mice. It helped delay the onset of conditions such as fatty liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, which are both common in aging mice 30512-6″ rel=”nofollow”> 46).

Although this is far from being determined in humans, intermittent fasting has become very popular among the anti-aging crowd.

Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.


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Intermittent Fasting Schedules To Follow

There are many ways to practice intermittent fasting for weight loss. The following are some of the most popular schedules:

Time-restricted eating: This involves consuming all of your meals within a period of 4-12 hours in a day. For example, you could choose to have your meals and calories between 8 am and 6 pm. Limiting your calorie intake to daylight hours is called eating with the sun. Time-restricted eating is particularly beneficial if you eat your meals before sunset. Not only does this help you eliminate bad habits like late-night snacking, but it improves your sleep and blood sugar control. Over time, time-restricted eating can lower your blood sugar levels, make you more sensitive to insulin, and reduce your blood pressure.

One-meal-a-day : This involves packing all of your days calories in a single meal that you consume within 1-2 hours. A small study conducted by Dr. Jason Fungs research group showed that fasting for 24 hours 3 times a week and eating only dinner on fasting days, eliminated the need for insulin in type-2 diabetic patients. This fasting approach also resulted in improved HbA1C, lower body mass index, and reduced waist circumference.

What intermittent fasting schedule is right for you? Find out here.

What Happens During Intermittent Fasting

To understand IF, you have to first understand what happens when you eat.

âInsulin is a hormone thatâs released when we eat, but it isnât meant to be released all the time,â Tello says. âIntermittent fasting is simply letting your insulin level go down to basically normal so that you unlock your fat stores. So nobodyâs going to lose any weight unless they get that insulin level down. Which is why eating very small meals throughout the day doesnât really help with weight loss.â

“People did not have KIND bars.”

Waiting a bit longer than usual between meals is totally normal, she says, despite what societal cues tell us.

âHistorically, we didnât have access to things like snacks even up until a hundred years ago,â Tello says. âPeople did not have KIND bars. People, nowadays, keep food in their glove compartments, for Godâs sake. Itâs like people canât stand to be even a little bit hungry for a second. Thatâs not normal, thatâs not healthy.â

, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and former chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, compares how fasting affects the body to the way exercise does.

Also Check: What Do You Eat When Your Fasting

Tips For Breaking A Fast

While fasting, your body is burning fat for energy, so you can lose weight if youre in a calorie deficit. After breaking a fast, its important to eat enough food so that your body has enough fuel to continue burning fat. Your goal should be to break your fast with whole foods instead of junk food. Here are 5 tips for breaking a fast safely and efficiently.

1. Prepare Yourself Before Starting Any Kind Of Fast. Ask yourself how committed you are to seeing it through. If you want to use intermittent fasting as an opportunity to experiment, theres no shame in trying out different approaches or being unsure about how best to proceed.

However, if you have decided intermittent fasting will work for you, dont start off weak by choosing something like water onlyit could easily end up being too challenging mentally or physically depending on your situation

2. Pick A Day To Start. Once youve chosen your type of intermittent fasting and made sure your diet and exercise routine wont be compromised, pick a day to start: Saturday or Sunday might be good days because most people tend to relax during these times when theyre free from work. Make sure it isnt a cheat day for youyou should ideally have gone without food all week before proceeding with your first full day of fasting.

5. Keep Track Of Results As You Break Your Fast. Keeping track of progress can help keep you motivated and hold yourself accountable for sticking to your plan throughout intermittent fasting.

You Could Get Super Hungry

Intermittent Fasting | What Happens Inside Your Body Over Time

A lot of people who fast experience hunger pangs, mainly when they start the program. Thats because our bodies are accustomed to using glucose a sugar that comes from the food we eat for fuel throughout the day. When its deprived of food , the body will essentially send signals saying, Hello, arent you forgetting something here?

Once your body gets into the groove of fasting, it will start burning stored body fat for energy rather than glucose. And as you spend more time in a fasted state, your body will get increasingly efficient at burning fat for energy.

In short, those hunger pangs should dissipate and your appetite will level out, Morton said. He added that fasters will ultimately have fewer cravings and hunger pangs the more consistently they fast.

In the meantime, that hungry feeling may drive some people to overeat. The natural tendency is when you havent eaten breakfast, you go, Since I didnt eat breakfast, Im going to eat more , Morton noted.

If the hunger pains are bad enough to interfere with your daily life, get something to eat. The idea is not to starve yourself.

Read Also: How To Intermittent Fasting To Lose Weight

Lowers Your Chance Of Long

Image: Pexels.

A 16-week clinical study by the CSIRO found intermittent fasting led to improvements in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate and triglycerides . These are all factors that lead to improved heart health, and a lower chance of cardiovascular disease.

A separate study by Translational Research found that because intermittent fasting successfully lowers blood glucose and insulin levels, it has proven be both a preventative measure, and an effective treatment for type-2 diabetes. This is because when you fast, your insulin levels drop, while your levels of human growth hormone and norepinephrine rise which speeds up your metabolism, helps your body lose weight, and breaks down sugar in the body more effectively.

The Truth Behind What Intermittent Fasting Does To Your Body

Three experts review claims of longer life, a healthier brain, and a slimmer body.

Ever feel hangry when you miss a meal? Imagine waiting 16 or 18 hours before eating again. Or an entire day without breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Thatâs what proponents of intermittent fasting do on a regular basis.

At its simplest, intermittent fasting means cycling through periods of voluntary abstinence of food , interspersed with intervals of normal food intake.

Whenever we eat, the body releases insulin to help cells convert sugars from food into energy. If the glucose isnât used immediately, insulin helps makes sure the excess is stored in fat cells. But when we go without food for extended periods, as people do in IF, insulin is not released. The body then turns to breaking down fat cells for energy, leading to weight loss.

“Thatâs why we have fat stores, and if weâre not using them, all kinds of bad things happen.”

Monique Tello, MD, MPH, a Harvard Medical School professor and internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, explains to Inverse what happens when people never get hungry enough to use up those fat stores. âA, we get fatter, and B, itâs all the things that go along with that,â she says.

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