Fasting is a ritual that has been practiced for thousands of years. It’s a time-honored abstention from food and drink that wove its way into society and everyone from religious leaders and physicians to hunters and monks practiced some form of fasting. Sometimes, fasting was an act of protest. Nowadays, though, people practice other forms of fasting, including complete, partial, and intermittent, which is the focus of this article.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Let’s make one thing clear: intermittent fasting does not translate to starvation. You do not put the body into starvation mode by skipping a meal or not eating for 24 hours. This notion is simply ridiculous. Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Some programs recommended specific foods to eat and avoid, but the program is more about when you should consume food, not what you should consume. It typically involves fasting periods of 16 hours and eating periods of eight hours. For instance you can eat between 1-9 p.m. and the you fast until that same time period the next day. You can learn more about intermittent fasting by clicking here.
What Happens To The Body During Intermittent Fasting?
In preliminary human studies, switching between times of eating and fasting may support cellular health. Researchers attribute this phenomenon to metabolic switching, which triggers an adaptation to periods of food scarcity. Cells use up their glucose stores and start converting fat to energy in a slower metabolic process. For metabolic switching to occur, you need to go without food for 16 hours. During the fasting period, the liver converts fatty acids to ketones, which get released into the bloodstream when glucose runs out. This can help with weight loss because the body burns fat instead of glucose for energy. But we’re here to explain the benefits of intermittent fasting that go beyond weight loss.
Benefits That Are Not Weight Loss
Intermittent Fasting May Fight Inflammation:
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection, injury, or illness. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a silent killer that can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health complications. Several studies found that intermittent fasting has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, reducing the risk of chronic metabolic conditions. Researchers also found that fasting for short periods of time helps reduce inflammation in the brain, protecting it from memory disorders and depression.
Intermittent Fasting May Accelerate Metabolism:
We’ve been taught to eat three meals every day, but the Western world overeats for all of these meals. As the body ages, the metabolism slows down, so the body has to work harder to digest the same amount of food it did when you were young. Slower digestion can increase the risk of life-threatening health conditions because fecal matter gets impacted in the colon. When you eat less food, you can help regulate digestion and improve your metabolic function.
Intermittent Fasting Helps You Recognize True Hunger:
The average person eats every three to four hours, but you don’t actually experience true hunger during that period. Researchers estimate that a person experiences the true nature of hunger after a 12-24 period of not eating. When you fast intermittently, you help regulate hunger hormones in the body. This means that you’ll eat when you’re truly hunger, and not just because it’s “lunchtime” or “dinnertime.” When the body can release the correct hormones, you’ll eat when you’re actually hungry, and you’ll fill up quicker. You won’t even overeat!
Intermittent Fasting May Maintain Muscle:
This may seem like a backwards thought when you consider that restricting calories typically leads to weight loss, which reduces muscle mass. One new study suggests that intermittent fasting may be a more effective way to lose weight and retain muscle mass. The study followed obese and overweight adults. One group followed a calorie restrictive diet and the other group restricted calories by intermittent fasting. At the end of the 12-week study, the results indicated that both groups lost weight, but the intermittent fasting group lost less muscle mass.
Intermittent Fasting May Reduce Diabetes Risk:
According to several research studies, intermittent fasting has a positive effect on insulin sensitivity, helping the body tolerate sugar more easily. One study found that after people fasted for several time periods, their insulin became more effective at telling cells to take glucose from the blood. Another study found that fasting every other day (one feeding day followed by a fasting day) resulted in significantly lower blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.