Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting – 9 Ways It Helps

Intermittent fasting is the best alternative to harsh dieting.

Calorie and fat-restricted dieting include many sacrifices, and you will have to give up most of your favorite foods that you love to eat.

“Calorie restriction has failed miserably in human trials because it’s so hard to stick to,” says gerontologist Rafael de Cabo of the U.S. National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland.

Many animal and human research suggest that intermittent fasting may produce several health benefits for your body and mind besides the weight loss outcome.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you eat in cycles between periods of eating and fasting days.

The main concern is when you should eat, not what food you should eat.

Fasting naturally happens to all of us while we are sleeping, and the simplest way to practice extended fasting is to add a few more hours before and after sleep.

For example, you can have a 16-hour fast by eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 p.m. That means you skip breakfast and snacks before noon and have no caloric foods after 8 p.m.

It involves eight hours of eating and sixteen hours of fasting (16/8).

This fasting approach could appear complicated at first. It’s hard to deal with the body’s hunger pangs and energy needs.

However, most people have reported that it is relatively easy to follow this fasting method. This method helps their energy levels increase, and they feel very comfortable after a few days of fasting.

Do not eat any caloric foods during fasting. But drinking water, calorie-free beverages, and supplements are permissible.

Studies and individual experiences have reported several health benefits associated with fasting. It even reduces belly fat.

The significant benefits of fasting have been shown to result in increased longevity, insulin sensitivity, and neuroprotection. It produces stronger resistance to stress, improved endogenous hormone production, and better mental clarity.

According to Dr. Michael Mosley, the author of the book “The Fast Diet,” planned fasting schedules help people lose weight and offer a range of health benefits. He says, “Studies of intermittent fasting show that people see improvements in blood pressure and their cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity.”

Types of intermittent fasting

There are different types or forms of intermittent fasting. These other methods have evolved through various studies and individual trials.

Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • 16 Hours Fasting: You should fast for 16 hours each day, eating only for 8 hours between noon and 8 p.m.
  • 24 Hours of Fasting: This is usually done once or twice weekly. Stop eating anything from dinner one day until dinner the next day (a 24-hour fast).
  • 500 Calories For Two Days/Week: During two days of the week, eat only about 500–600 calories.
  • With alternate-day fasting, the goal is to fast every other day.

9 Benefits of intermittent fasting

9 Intermittent Fasting Benefits

In the rest of this article, we will discuss nine crucial health benefits of intermittent fasting. All of these advantages are based on data from several independent study reports.

A study by Mattson, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed the ultimate benefits of fasting a longer life, a leaner body, and a sharper mind.

1. Helps in losing weight

Most people try intermittent fasting schedules intending to lose weight.

This method is about eating fewer meals, leading to a lower calorie intake. This method will produce quick weight loss results unless the person overeats during each meal.

Intermittent fasting may help lower insulin levels, enhance growth hormone activity, and increase norepinephrine. It increases fat breakdown and energy usage.

Studies have shown that short-term fasting boosts the metabolic rate by 3.6–14%, increasing body fat burning.

One of the reviews published in Science Direct points out that this fasting method can produce a weight loss of 3–8% over 3–24 weeks and help to lose 4–7% of waist circumference in the same period. Overall, it’s a practical option for weight management.

2. Improves brain functioning and prevents Alzheimer’s disease

Intermittent fasting benefits the brain and mental health.

It improves several metabolic aspects that are closely linked to brain functioning. These metabolic factors include reduced inflammation, oxidative stress, blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance.

Some animal studies say that fasting habits can increase the growth of new nerve cells and the levels of a brain hormone called a brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

One particular rat study has given enough proof to show that the effects of intermittent fasting on health can prevent or reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies suggest that short-term fasting can reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s disease.

Periodic abstinence from food for a few hours reduces the impact of brain-related issues like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.

3. Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress

Most chronic diseases and faster aging are the results of oxidative stress.

In other words, oxidative stress occurs when free radicals react with protein and DNA molecules and cause damage to them.

Studies say that it’s possible to prevent or reduce the impact of oxidative stress through intermittent fasting.

According to some studies, intermittent fasting makes checking and fighting inflammation easy, which causes severe diseases like cancer and heart ailments.

4. Improves the functioning of hormones and cells

When you have not eaten, and your stomach is empty, the body quickly changes hormone levels to access the stored fat in the body.

To facilitate fat burning, the body lowers insulin levels in the blood. It increases the growth hormones in the blood to a much higher level to burn fat and build muscles.

As a result of fasting, the body induces a cellular repair process. It causes changes in several genes and molecules connected to immunity and longevity.

5. Good for type 2 diabetes

One of the leading causes of Type II diabetes is insulin resistance.

High blood sugar levels can be normalized by removing or reducing insulin resistance.

Studies show that one of the most important benefits of intermittent fasting is that it can help lower blood sugar and make the body less resistant to insulin.

According to studies, fasting can reduce blood sugar levels by 3–6% and lead to a 20–31% decrease in insulin resistance.

Certain animal studies report that fasting can prevent kidney damage that usually happens in severe cases of Type II diabetes.

6. Aids in cell repair and body recuperation.

Studies suggest that the impact of intermittent fasting has excellent benefits for cell repair and rejuvenation in the body. Planned schedules of fasting induce the body to be in autophagy mode. It enhances the process of waste removal from the cells. The body removes the dysfunctional proteins congregated inside cells by breaking them down and metabolizing them.

If the autophagy process happens within the body cells, it will help prevent chronic diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.

intermittent fasting

7. Improves cardiovascular health

Heart health can be improved through a systematic fasting program.

Fasting improves several risk factors that directly impact the heart’s health, such as inflammatory markers, blood sugar levels, blood triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol levels, etc.

Some reports indicate a lower incidence of heart attacks among people who practice intermittent fasting.

8. Aids in cancer prevention

Many of the favorable metabolic effects created by fasting are beneficial for reducing cancer risks.

According to various animal study suggestions, it is possible to prevent cancer through intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting could help some cancer patients deal with the side effects of chemotherapy.

There haven’t been enough studies on people to know if “fasting” is a proven way to lower cancer risk.

9. Increases life expectancy

From numerous human examples, it is a proven fact that lean and slim people usually outlive fatty people.

Some recent studies show that people who take up intermittent fasting have a longer lifespan than those who don’t.

According to one of the rat studies, rats on a 24-hour fasting cycle lived 83% longer than rats on a regular diet.

It is still determined how much this rat study result will apply to human life.

People who want to slow down their aging have turned to intermittent fasting as a natural way to do so.

Conclusion  

The health benefits of intermittent fasting work beyond the goal of weight loss. It not only trims fat but also helps you live a healthy and long life. At least, that is what both animal and human studies say.

There are different methods to practice during the fasting period. Some plans call for fasting during specific times of the day. But others may require fasting only for a few days of the week. Each method has a slightly different outcome.

We recommend that you try intermittent fasting with the help of your doctor or a nutritionist.

Recommended readingThe Military Diet and all about Metabolic Syndrome.

 

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