The health benefits of intermittent fasting has become a hot topic of conversation in the health and wellness world over the last number of years, and for good reason.
If you don’t already know, intermittent fasting is a type of fasting (not to be confused with dieting) whereby you have a window of eating, typically 8 hours, and a window of fasting, typically 16 hours. Although, there are other methods, this is the most common method of intermittent fasting known as – 16:8 Fasting.
It has been studied and shown by numerous top scientists and health experts alike that the number of health benefits that intermittent fasting provides is vast.
In this post, we’ll be covering some of those benefits of I.F., as well as, the pro’s and cons, and some other frequently asked questions as it relates to this pattern of eating.
If you want a better understanding into the world of intermittent fasting, look no further!
Let’s dive right in…
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
While most of the studies have only reached the experimental phase on rats, the undeniable results are astounding.
Here’s a summary of the benefits that we’ll be covering:
- Assists in weight-loss
- Burns fat
- Improves brain function & cognition
- Reduces inflammation
- Linked to extending lifespan
- Improves blood markers (blood pressure, sugar, & cholesterol)
- Prevents diseases and chronic conditions
- Cellular cleansing via autophagy
Let’s get into these benefits with some more detail, shall we?!
1. Assists in weight loss & fat burning
When most people decide to partake in a regimen of intermittent fasting, it’s typically to lose weight and burn fat. That’s the most common reason, at least…
If you’re able to avoid overeating, then fasting will generally result in you eating fewer calories, and thus losing weight.
By the same token, when you don’t consume food for a prolonged period of time, your insulin levels drop. Simply put, when your insulin levels are low (i.e. during a fasted period), you’re able to burn off more fat.
In short, I.F is an extremely effective tool for losing weight and burning fat.
2. Improves brain function & cognition
Intermittent fasting may provide positive implications for your brain health. This is due to one of two things:
One, studies have shown that I.F has an effect on the growth of new nerve cells and metabolic pathways. This can protect and improve the brain’s functionality immensely.
Two, the carry-over benefits of having a reduced inflammatory response, less stress, and improved bio-markers can give the brain an extreme boost in cognition. Mental clarity, focus, memory, and improved mood are just some of the benefits of improved brain function.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is a wide-spread problem in western society. A lot of it can be attributed to overeating in conjunction with not making healthy food choices.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting, greatly reduces inflammation in the body. This is an incredible finding because inflammation is heavily linked to the onset of diseases like: Diabetes, Obesity, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, among others.
4. Improves blood markers
Another mind-blowing benefit to intermittent fasting, is that it improves your blood markers such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels.
This is a HUGE positive because these factors are strongly connected to heart disease – the leading cause of death globally!
While more research needs to be done on the subject, there’s no denying that based on these findings, if there is even a CHANCE that this could be true, then intermittent fasting should be given a shot.
5. Extended lifespan
While the research on this is premature, promising studies have come out to suggest that prolonging eating restrictions may have an impact on extending animal lifespans.
Although it’s uncertain as to why, the most recent assumption is that intermittent fasting being a minor stressor produces a hormetic response that turns on your bodies’ defense pathways.
At its most basic, hormesis is a process by which a minor stressor causes a positive biological response, and in this case, it could be that of longevity.
6. Disease prevention
Intermittent fasting may be able to prevent, or reduce the risks of many diseases and chronic conditions, such as:
- A number of cancers
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart disease
- And more…
While these benefits haven’t been fully proven, yet. There’s no doubt that testing further is worthwhile.
7. Cellular regeneration
Fasting is a form of hormesis that encourages a process in your cells called autophogy.
Autophogy is a cellular bodily process that cleans up damaged cells, and replaces them with newer, healthier cells. In other words, its a regeneration of the new and recycling of the old.
There are many benefits to autophogy, however, to keep it short, it protects your organs and inner biology from contracting diseases and illnesses, and it in essence, keeps your body young and healthy.
The Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting
We’ve reviewed the vast number of benefits from the implementation of intermittent fasting. As you can see, the positives are plentiful.
While you primarily hear about the upsides of intermittent fasting, the downsides can’t be ignored.
With that being said, as a whole, intermittent fasting can be incredibly useful to the vast majority of society today. However, there are certainly a few factors to be considered, including those that SHOULDN’T fast intermittently.
We’ll get into that a little later.
But first, the pros and cons of intermittent fasting:
Important disclaimer: While intermittent fasting can be beneficial and is safe for the vast majority of people, if you are concerned or do have a previous or current medical history (i.e. health conditions, predisposed health concerns, are pregnant, may become pregnant, etc.) it’s important to consult with your doctor or other medical professional prior to implementing any type of restricted eating procedure into your life.
What to look out for when Intermittent Fasting
While this method of time-restricted eating is largely safe and beneficial for pretty much everyone, there are a couple of exceptions.
Who shouldn’t fast:
- If you have a history of eating disorders or are chronically underweight, fasting should not even be a consideration for you.
- If you are a woman with a prior medical history of low blood-sugar, infertility, or are simply pregnant or trying to become pregnant, fasting may not be for you either.
- Lastly, if you are someone who has given intermittent fasting a fair shot and you simply didn’t enjoy it, it may not be for you either. At the end of the day, if you don’t enjoy something, it won’t last anyways.
The most obvious side effect of I.F is, of course, is hunger.
While you can typically adjust to this over time, it does have the potential to lead to:
- mood swings
- temporary weakness
- and poor brain function
However, studies have shown that most people experience the exact opposite.
Nonetheless, it is important to note…
Now Back to You
As you can see, there are many health benefits of intermittent fasting. It’s an incredible tool for many things. With that being said, it isn’t absolutely necessary and it’s certainly not for everybody.
If you do decide to take part, be sure to do your research, and even consult with a doctor or nutritionist prior to starting your fast.
The only way to know if you enjoy it is to jump in head-first and try it! If you do so, good luck! And prepare to experience some incredible results!