It Can Improve Metabolic Flexibility
Another big benefit of fasting, especially for those who crave food every few hours, is associated with your metabolism. Fasting for even short periods can increase your metabolic flexibility, which is your ability to switch between burning sugar and burning fat, says Petrucci, citing research from the University of Alabama that found people who simply restricted their eating to the hours between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. became more metabolically flexibleTime-restricted feeding study shows promise in helping people shed body fat. The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Accessed 06/21/2021. . This is important, because when youre metabolically flexible, you dont crash and burn when you go for a long time between meals, she says.
Fasting Stage #: Protein Conservation
The fifth stage of fasting is the protein conservation phase. After about a week of fasting, the body meets its energy needs almost exclusively from fat reserves.
While minimal amounts of protein are needed for gluconeogenesis, the brain has also switched predominantly to fat energy consumption .
In this stage of fasting, hunger has genuinely disappeared. Consequently, ghrelin, the hunger hormone, is also at a low.
For this reason, the world record for fasting is 382 days, as the body is now feeding only on its body fat .
Contrary to popular belief, muscles do not atrophy at all during prolonged periods of fasting.
In the phase of protein conservation, the release of growth hormones is already enormously high. As a result, it protects muscle and bone mass from degeneration during fasting .
Hence, this fasting stage lives up to its name.
The human growth hormone stimulates muscle growth and repair .
For this reason, intermittent fasting is no stranger to bodybuilders. Occasionally not eating for long periods can help build muscle instead of breaking it down.
Fasting, for example, can also speed up the healing process of wounds and more severe injuries .
Since growth hormones are so effective, their use in competitions is even considered doping.
Fasting Asks Less Of You
You dont need to go buy special foods or prepare special meals. Theres no special workout or supplements. In fact, you dont have to spend any time grocery shopping, doing food prep, or make time for specific workouts. Fasting not only saves you money, it also saves you time.
How much time do you spend every day shopping, prepping, cooking, eating and cleaning? Whatever the number, multiple it three to six times if you follow traditional dietary advice. I guarantee you its startling if you do the math. No wonder you dont have time to go to the gym or practice any self-care to reduce your stress.
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Could Help With Weight Loss
Numerous studies have found that intermittent fasting may help people lose weight. For example, a 2015 systematic review of 40 studies found that, on average, study participants lost 7-11 pounds over a span of 10 weeks.
However, it’s unclear if intermittent fasting is any better than basic calorie restriction. For instance, a 2017 study found that a group who fasted every other day lost no more weight than a comparison group who simply reduced their calories by 25% every day.
Another 2021 study found similar results that alternate-day fasting did not lead to greater fat loss than good, old-fashioned calorie cutting.
Note: The majority of studies that explore intermittent fasting’s weight loss benefits are small and short. That’s why most experts agree that more research is needed to determine whether this different approach to dieting is safe and sustainable.
Potential Drawback: High Stress Hormones
With the shift from carbohydrate to fat metabolism comes another type of shift: a hormonal one.
As your body gets used to burning fat for fuel, it may utilize stress hormones like cortisol to liberate amino acids and fats from your reserves. This process can feel stressful until your body becomes efficient at fat burning, at which point cortisol levels return to normal.
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Side Effects And Risks
In general, intermittent fasting is safe to try if you are relatively healthy, says Contreras. That’s because you’re still getting all the nutrients and calories that your body needs, just compressing your consumption into fewer hours of the day.
However, intermittent fasting has been linked to muscle loss. In addition, certain people should proceed with caution when it comes to intermittent fasting since they have more nuanced nutritional needs. Contreras says you should speak with your doctor before starting if you are:
- Under age 18
- Have struggled with eating disorders in the past
- Are over 65
- Have type 2 diabetes
In fact, that’s a good idea for anyone who has never done intermittent fasting, since a doctor who is familiar with this approach can help you make sure you’re still getting all the nutrients needed to stay healthy.
That doesn’t mean starting intermittent fasting will be easy, especially at the beginning. Contreras says you may experience the following symptoms when you start fasting:
While these typically aren’t risks to your health, you should contact a doctor or call 911 immediately if you experience lightheadedness, dizziness, or changes to your alertness.
How Often Should You Do Intermittent Fasting
The method of intermittent fasting you choose can be repeated as often as you like, for the short term or long term. You can do it once or twice per week or every day, depending on your lifestyle and personal preference. Keep in mind that to get the maximum benefits of intermittent fasting, you will need to combine it with an overall healthy lifestyle to include:
- Eating a sensible diet such as a Mediterranean-style diet that includes food such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats and avoids food such as refined grains and sugars.
- Avoiding snacking between meals or eating at nighttime.
- Drinking water and avoiding sugary beverages to help with calorie restriction.
- Remaining active throughout the day and mixing up your exercise routine with cardiovascular exercises and exercises that build muscle tone.
For the best effects, consider following a relatively simple form of intermittent fasting for weight loss. Limit the eight-hour fasting period to earlier in the day, such as 7 am to 3 pm or 9 am to 5 pm hours each day. Avoid eating after 6 pm or just before bed.
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Potential Drawback: Fertility Problems
Some research in animals hints that intermittent fasting may impair female fertility. Its likely that this is caused by calorie deficiency, rather than by the practice of fasting itself, as pregnancy is a very energy-intensive practice.
Consider holding off on IF if youre pregnant or trying to become pregnant!
Men, on the other hand, can likely engage in IF without impairing their fertility rates.
There are also fasting strategies tailored specifically to female needs.
Ways To Use This Information For Better Health
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What Should I Eat After Fasting 20/4
After fasting for 20 hours, some people may feel hungry and need something to eat. Here are some healthy and delicious ideas for what to eat after fasting:
Vegetables and fruits: Eat 100% of your daily vegetable and fruit requirement in the first 2 weeks of Ramadan.
Healthy fats: Add healthy fats into your diet such as avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, fish oils, flaxseed oil
Grains: Eat whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, or oats
Remember dont overeat because you havent eaten for 20 hours
It Induces Cellular Repair
Intermittent fasting stimulates the removal of cellular waste, a process known as autophagy.
Autophagy removes toxic proteins associated with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimers disease from the cell.
Autophagy also promotes healthy aging, fights inflammation, boosts energy levels, and improves heart health.
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May Play A Role In Cancer Treatment And Prevention
This potential benefit is still a bit up in the air. Animal models have shown that periodic fasting may help protect normal cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy drugs while sensitizing cancer cells to the treatment .
When it comes to human trials, the data is still inconclusive. Weight control and reduced inflammation in the body could reduce the development of cancer, but further research is needed to understand the role fasting may play in cancer treatment .
What Is Intermittent Fasting A Quick Summary
The idea is based on many studies on rodents that have shown an increased lifespan if their food intake was restricted to some extent, creating a calorie deficit. There are also other methods, like the Japanese Hara hachi bun me method, alternate-day fasting or one meal a day . Calorie restriction seems to make our body undergo a kind of a clean-up it has time to reset, primarily reduce your insulin levels giving your body a chance to burn stored fat all of which leading to major benefits like weight loss and longevity.
There are many ways you can restrict your calorie intake each requiring a varying level of commitment and willpower. But in recent years, the 16/8 or circadian rhythm intermittent fasting model is gaining popularity mainly, because it doesnt require that much willpower and doesnt interfere with our usual routine too much. Check out this post about various types of intermittent fasting and how to start. It is based around our natural circadian rhythm, which tells us when we are awake and tired ready to sleep. You eat from the morning, during an 8-hour window, until the afternoon. You dont eat anything after this 8-hour window, which gives you 16 hours of fasting, just about enough for your body to do the needed clean-up.
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It Stimulates The Production Of Human Growth Hormone
The human growth hormone or HCG is essential for the growth, maintenance, and repair of tissues. It also enhances muscle growth, boosts metabolism, and burns fat.
HCG is naturally produced in the body however, it only remains active for a few minutes. Thus, stimulating its production will help you enjoy the benefits longer.
Popular Intermittent Fasting Regimes
After hearing this, I know you must be thrilled to start. At least so was I. But how to start? And would IF be something for me? It is important to know that we can differentiate between four popular ways of IF.3
- 16:8 regimen
- Alternate day
The 16:8 regimen:
During the 16:8 regimen, you divide your day into an 8-hour eating window and a 16-hour fasting window. I prefer this method over the others as it fits best in my current lifestyle, making it the easiest to maintain.
The 5:2 diet:
Are you a very busy person, and do you not feel like changing your diet during your work week? This method might be best for you. The 5:2 diet consists of 2 days of 500 kcal or less a week. These two days are considered fasting days because of the low caloric intake. The calorie restriction gives your body the chance to start repair and maintenance mode while burning fat as an energy source.
The Eat-stop-Eat method:
This method is for the hardcore fasters among us as it requires training and willpower to hit the 24 hours of fasting. It can also fit nicely in an athletes lifestyle. Their bodies have high caloric requirements on training days which makes fasting difficult. However, with enough willpower and discipline, this method can be successful. Rest days can then be used for fasting.
The Alternate day regimen:
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May Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.
Fasting has been shown to have several beneficial effects on metabolism that may lead to reduced risk of cancer.
Promising evidence from animal studies indicates that intermittent fasting or diets that mimic fasting may help prevent cancer. Research in humans has led to similar findings, although more studies are needed 00224-7″ rel=”nofollow”> 26, 27, 28 ).
Theres also some evidence showing that fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy in humans 00503-2″ rel=”nofollow”> 29, 30).
Intermittent fasting has been shown to help prevent cancer in animal studies and some human studies. Research in humans showed that it can help reduce side effects caused by chemotherapy.
You Will Sleep Better
Because you will limit your eating to your active hours an 8-hour window during the day, you will not eat before going to bed. It is known that you are not only much more likely to gain fat when eating before bed time , but also suffer indigestion or restless legs syndrome. Its not that eating before bed causes this, its eating eating the wrong stuff chocolate, fatty snacks, carbs. And we both know that you dont crave a bowl of spinach before sleep, but chocolate or some crisps are always at hand.
Circadian rhythm intermittent fasting stops you eating a few hours before sleep, meaning you avoid any kind of snacking and therefore alleviating many symptoms of troubled sleep or improving the quality of your sleep.
The enzymes involved in fatty acid oxidation, theyre highly circadian. They know when theyre supposed to be metabolizing glucose, says Kristen Eckel-Mahan, PhD, who studies sleep and metabolism at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Read more about how to sleep better and why is sleep much more important than we previously thought to our health and lifespan in Matthew Walkers great book Why we sleep.
It makes perfect sense align your eating habit with your circadian rhythm and it will function better.
You Will Eat Fewer Unhealthy Foods
Because you dont have such a long window for eating, you automatically eat the important meals and leave out all the pointless snacks that are often bad for you. This is similar to the quality of sleep benefit above but applies to the entire day. With a shorter time window to eat, you will eat bigger portions. If you make them healthy and balanced whole foods, high in fibre, healthy fats, low in processed carbs and sugars you will feel full most of the day, reducing the need to snack.
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. Harvard Health
Fasting And Brain Health
Memory and mood can also benefit from fasting.
Fasting can help to protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons, by shocking the brain into create new neurons, explains Chambers.
These new neurons are more resistant to plaque accumulation, which is related to the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Fasting may also improve memory and mood by stimulating the growth of new neurons and strengthening neural connections in the brain.
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Dial Back Your Dinner Hour
Research suggests that it is best to finish eating between 6 and 8 p.m. As bedtime approaches, melatonin increases and insulin output begins to drop. That means blood sugar climbs higher and circulates for longer because there isnt enough insulin to clear it quickly. Research has linked late-evening eating to a greater risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
How Do I Manage Hunger
The most important thing to realize is that hunger usually passes like a wave. Many people worry that hunger during intermittent fasting will continue to build until it is intolerable, but this does not normally happen.46 Instead, hunger comes in a wave. If you simply ignore it and drink a cup of tea or coffee, it will often pass.47
During extended fasts, hunger will often increase into the second day. After that, it gradually recedes, and many people report a complete loss of hunger sensation by day 3 or 4.48 Your body is now being powered by fat. In essence, your body is eating its own fat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and therefore is no longer hungry. Learn more
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The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
I was skeptical, but it turns out there is something to be said for a daily fast, preferably one lasting at least 16 hours.
Ive long thought the human body was not meant to run on empty, that fasting was done primarily for religious reasons or political protest. Otherwise we needed a reliably renewed source of fuel to function optimally, mentally and emotionally as well as physically.
Personal experience reinforced that concept Im not pleasant to be around when Im hungry. Theres even an official name for that state of mind, confirmed by research: Hangry!
But prompted by recent enthusiasm for fasting among people concerned about their health, weight or longevity, I looked into the evidence for possible benefits and risks of what researchers call intermittent fasting. Popular regimens range from ingesting few if any calories all day every other day or several times a week to fasting for 16 hours or more every day.
A man I know in his early 50s said he had lost 12 pounds in about two months on what he calls the 7-11 diet: He eats nothing from 7 p.m. until 11 a.m. the next morning, every day.
It takes 10 to 12 hours to use up the calories in the liver before a metabolic shift occurs to using stored fat, Dr. Mattson told me. After meals, glucose is used for energy and fat is stored in fat tissue, but during fasts, once glucose is depleted, fat is broken down and used for energy.