The simple explanation of intermittent fasting is that it’s an eating pattern where you cycle between periods where you eat and periods where you fast. You may have heard about intermittent fasting but also thought it can’t be a healthy way to lose weight or improve your health.
Why would people opt for intermittent fasting rather than utilizing a standard diet like counting calories or eating low in carbs? Many people believe and studies now show that there are health benefits to intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
If you are not familiar with the term, intermittent fasting has some different approaches. Some people alternate days when they fast, or only fast two days a week. You can also eat normally but within only an 8-hour window, so you fast for the other 16 hours every day (known as 16:8).
Zero’s intermittent fasting tracker is a free app that can give you some alternate ways in which to fast. You can choose one of their pre-fabricated fasting approaches like 16:8 or 5:2, or you can create your own custom fast to last as long as you’d like.
It may be obvious that fasting can help you lose fat and weight, but it’s not a method of starving yourself. People used to follow the assumption that it was unhealthy to fast because that meant your body was going to become weaker. But incorporating intermittent fasting is a healthy way to be more conscious of what you eat since you only have specific times to eat.
It enhances the hormone function that facilitates weight loss, lowers insulin levels, and increases norepinephrine (noradrenaline) to break down body fat and use it for energy. So, short-term fasts and intermittent fasts benefit from speeding up your metabolism, which helps you to burn more calories.
Believe it or not, intermittent fasting is an excellent way for many people to benefit their health. Here are some evidence-based advantages that you may not have known can come from intermittent fasting.
Aging paves the way for more chronic diseases like oxidative stress, due to free radicals. Intermittent fasting has studies that prove it enhances the body’s resistance to such damage from free radicals and fighting inflammation.
Improves Heart Health
Heart disease is a major issue within the United States. Improving cardiovascular health is usually done with the exercise, but the effects of intermittent fasting have been shown to also help aid in heart protection. It improves several risk factors related to your heart, including:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar levels
- Cholesterol – helps to lower LDL (“bad”) levels
- Blood triglycerides
These studies were done on animals and show a promising and positive effect of fasting. Changes to the metabolic parameters and insulin levels dropping reduce the risk for cardiovascular events.
Change in Hormones and Cell Function
Your body is constantly changing your hormone levels to make body fat that has been stored more accessible. It also initiates cellular repair processes.
Intermittent fasting can help these functions to be more effective, since it creates a drop in insulin levels, facilitating fat to burn. The blood levels in the human growth hormone (HGH) increase, which promotes fat to burn and muscles to grow.
Boosts Brain Power
Your brain power becomes boosted while intermittent fasting because it helps guard against the development of neurological disorders. A study performed on animals found that fasting every other day enhanced memory function. For this reason, people may opt to fast while working to help them keep focused and on-task.
Decreases Cancer Risk
Intermittent fasting slows the ability of cancer cells to adapt and spread, which improved the effects of cancer treatments, according to a review in 2018. While this is great news, there are more trials needed to confirm that it helps those undergoing cancer treatments. Those who are dealing with cancer should always consult with a doctor before changing their diet, which includes intermittent fasting.
You may understand that eating impacts your sleep; if you’ve ever felt tired or ready for a nap after a big meal, then you understand how diet affects sleep. Intermittent fasting has a more positive effect on sleeping due to your circadian rhythm.
The Sleep Foundation performed its study on healthy adults. The participants all found that their sleep quality improved on several levels after only a week of intermittent fasting.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good For You?
Intermittent fasting is typically safe for many people. But it’s not the best option for everyone. For example, those who are breastfeeding or are pregnant shouldn’t be actively skipping meals.
It’s important to discuss with your doctor, physician, or consult with a dietitian before jumping into intermittent fasting. If you have any health issues or medical problems, you want to ensure your safety when making drastic changes in your diet for your health.
Intermittent fasting provides a lot of great benefits that are backed by studies. It may be a great option for healthy adults who want to lose weight, increase their metabolism, and get a better night’s sleep!