Did you know more than 60% of individuals within first world countries such as the United States are overweight?
With obesity becoming more and more common in this age of technology and fast food, it’s no wonder that diets such as intermittent fasting are becoming increasingly popular. They have massive benefits that can lead to weight loss, appetite suppression, and improved memory function, just to name a few.
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But readers want to know – is intermittent fasting a good option for weight loss?
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a rising trend within the health and fitness community in which one does not eat for a short period of time that can range from 12 to 24 hours. It is unique among modern-day diets because it tells you when you should eat, rather than what you should eat.
During the fast, you are allowed to drink water, tea, coffee, or any other beverages as long as they do not contain calories. All weight loss diets are rooted in reducing caloric intake, and intermittent fasting is no exception.
How does IF work for weight loss?
According to Mark Mattson, the senior investigator for the Institute of Aging, fasting puts stress on our cells. While this may sound counterproductive, there has actually been evidence during studies with animals which have resulted in an improved immune system, reduced stress, and preserved learning and memory function.
When we exercise, we stress our muscles and cardiovascular systems, which results in these systems growing stronger. This is similar to the stress introduced by intermittent fasting. As long as our bodies are allowed time to rest between times of stress, our cells become stronger.
As a result, they become better prepared to fight disease, maintain mental functions, and help us maintain a healthy weight.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
With so many diets out there, it’s hard to know what actually works and what’s just a new fad.
Intermittent fasting, however, is anything but a new fad
Humans have been fasting since the dawn of time when humans had to compete among themselves or other species of animals for a limited food supply. Although we’ve come a long way from having to hunt for our own food, humans still participate in voluntary fasting. It is common in many cultures and increasingly prevalent in religious ceremonies, such as Ramadan, when participants fast from dawn to sunset, or Yom Kippur, a religious event where participants fast for 26 hours. Apart from the physical benefits, many religious and holy sects believe it is a spiritual act that can bring one closer to God and enlightenment.
Aside from its spiritual connotation, there have been a number of studies on the effect fasting has on the physiology of our body and brain. Below, we’ve listed 7 ways you can benefit from fasting once a week!
1) Intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss
A review of 40 studies found that intermittent fasting lead to a typical weight loss of 7-11 lbs over 10 weeks. When compared to statistics from studies of other methods of weight loss, it was discovered that those who participated in intermittent fasting were less likely to experience an increase in appetite during fasting as well as eating less on days they didn’t fast!
2) Intermittent fasting can increase your overall quality of life
During a study on overweight adults with moderate asthma, it was discovered that participants who took part in intermittent fasting lost 8% of their initial body weight over the course of 8 weeks. However, what’s even more interesting is that they saw a decrease in markers of oxidative stress and inflammation. This led to relief from autoimmune diseases such as asthma and allergic reactions.
3) Intermittent fasting can decrease your appetite
Those who participated in intermittent fasting regularly at least once a week were less likely to overeat on days that they didn’t fast. This leads to an overall reduction in caloric intake, whether or not you’re fasting!
4) It can reduce the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes
In a study published in August 2017, it was discovered that intermittent fasting leads to the preservation of beta cells in mice that were induced to have type 2 diabetes. This beta cell preservation, as well as the fact that intermittent fasting often leads to insulin sensitivity can lead to lower levels of blood sugar, which can help regulate or reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
5) It can preserve memory and learning functionality
Once you have been fasting for 10-16 hours, your body begins to draw energy from its fat stores. This leads to a release of fatty acids called ketones into your bloodstream, which has been linked with preserving memory and brain function.
6) Intermittent fasting can slow or even prevent diseases
Intermittent fasting leads to an increase in BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) protein levels. BDNF has been found to protect, repair, and rebuild brain cells, leading to an overall higher quality of life as well as a reduced risk for diseases that lead to brain impairment, such as Dementia and Alzheimers.
7) It can help you eat better
Those who participated in intermittent fasting reported a decrease in appetite, even on the days that they weren’t fasting. This led to a decrease in overeating or binging on junk foods with high calories but low nutritional content. Participants are more likely to eat foods that are nutrient rich in order to make up for the lack of nutrients during the days that they do fast.
There’s a reason intermittent fasting has been used for so long. From preventing diseases to promoting weight loss, the benefits of fasting once a week are huge! Just remember to stay adequately hydrated while fasting, commit to a consistent schedule, and watch your quality of life improve dramatically!