Happy February! It’s National Fasting February Month!
which is an entire month dedicated to goals associated with transforming health resolutions into healthy habits and lifestyles. In this month, we’re celebrating the benefits of intermittent fasting and its effects on metabolic and overall health. Let’s get started!
Fitness gurus always seem to always be raving about intermittent fasting as one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends, and with good reason. People who fast this way use it for weight loss, improve overall health, and simplify their lifestyle. Studies Reports by Science Direct, suggest that intermittent fasting has powerful effects on the brain and body, including living a longer life.
Please continue to read to learn more about intermittent fasting and its benefits.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
When a person eats in cycles between patterns of eating and fasting, known as Intermittent fasting (IF). It’s not what foods you eat; it’s when you eat them. In this respect, IF is not a diet in the conventional sense but more of an eating pattern. Some of the most common IF cycles are 16-hour and 24-hour fasts, two times a week. Fasting is becoming a popular practice due to its overall health benefits.
Fasting is not a new trend or a fad diet. It’s been around throughout human evolution. In fact, ancient human gathers couldn’t go to the local Piggly Wiggly and stock their fridges. Food wasn’t available year-round, meaning sometimes they couldn’t find something to eat.
Due to evolution, humans are able to function without food for longer periods of time. In fact, eating 3-4 (or more) meals per day is more unnatural than fasting.
What are some Intermittent Fasting Methods?
If you search the internet, you will find several different ways of doing intermittent fasting – all of which involve splitting up your day into eating and fasting periods. During the fasting time zones, you eat nothing at all or very little. Some of the most popular methods are:
- The 5:2 diet: Consumer 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but normally eat the other five days.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, fast for 24 hours. For example, don’t eat breakfast one day until breakfast the next day.
- The 16/8 method: Also known as the Leangains protocol, this method involves skipping breakfast and restricting meals to an 8-hour window, such as 12-8 pm. Then you proceed to fast for 16 hours in between.
What is the most popular intermittent fasting method?
People tend to find the 16/8 the easiest and most functional intermittent fasting method. This method is sustainable and doesn’t disrupt everyday life (too much).
Pro-tip: Don’t eat more during your ‘eating” periods. All of these methods should result in weight loss should there be a reduction in daily caloric intake.
How does IF affect cells and hormones?
There are several things that happen to your body, on a cellular and molecular level, when you fast—for example, adjustments to hormone levels. The body will adjust hormones to make it easier to use stored body fat for burning calories.
An essential cellular repair process is initiated by the cells and will change the expression of your genes.
Some changes within your body:
- Gene expression: Gene functions change in relation to longevity and protection against particular diseases.
- Cellular repair: When you’re fasting, the cells in the body initiate a cellular repair process. Including autophagy, where cells will digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells. (Source)
- Insulin: Fast improves insulin sensitivity, and insulin levels tend to drop dramatically. Lower levels of stored insulin help make body fat more accessible.
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH): Levels of HGH will soar, increasing nearly as much as 5-fold. This benefits the person looking to gain muscle and lose fat. (Source)
The health benefits of intermittent fasting lie within these changes in hormone levels, gene expression, and cell function.
What are the health benefits of intermittent fasting?
It’s crystal clear that intermittent fasting in humans and animals has its benefits. Several studies show it can have powerful benefits like weight loss and better the health of the brain and body. It quite possibly can help you live longer.
Some of the main benefits of intermittent fasting include:
#2 Here’s to Heart Health: Intermittent fasting may help reduce heart-related health issues like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. (Source)
A few other risks to consider are:
- Bad LDL cholesterol
- Blood triglycerides
- Inflammatory markers
- Blood sugar
- Insulin resistance
#3 Inflammation: Inflammation is a key driver in many chronic diseases. Some studies suggest that IF will lower the markers of inflammation.
#4 Insulin resistance: Reduce insulin resistance, lower blood sugar, and protect against type 2 diabetes.
#5 Weight loss: As stated above, Intermittent Fasting can help reduce belly fat and lose weight without the need to reduce calories.
Note that intermittent fasting is not always meant for everyone. If you have a history of eating disorders or are underweight, you should not start IF without consulting a doctor first. In these cases, intermittent fasting can be harmful.
What are the side effects of intermittent fasting?
The main side effect of intermittent fasting is the feeling of being hungry. Also, you may feel weak, and your brain might not perform as you’d prefer. This may all be temporary, as it takes your body a bit of time to adapt to the new eating schedule.
If you have a medical condition, we highly recommend consulting with a doctor before starting this fasting methodology. More in particular if you:
- Are underweight
- Have low blood pressure
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- History of amenorrhea
- Attempting to conceive
- History of eating disorders
- Take medications
- Have issues with the regulation of blood sugar
With that being said, intermittent fasting can be safe. If you are overall healthy and well-nourished, intermittent fasting should not be dangerous for you to choose.
Live a Healthy, yet Simple Lifestyle
We understand that eating healthy can be simple but yet a challenge. A majority of people may start a diet as quickly as they end it. This may happen because of all the work that goes into preparing, cooking, and cleaning up. And of course, nobody likes doing dishes!
With intermittent fasting, you don’t need to prepare meals, spend hours cooking, or clean up afterward. For this reason, intermittent fasting is well-known as a life-hack and quite popular. People love the health benefits such as weight loss and a boost in brain function. All in all, it’s helps keep things simple while amping up your overall health and well-being.