Intermittent fasting is a dieting plan in which you restrict calorie consumption to a short window of time and spend a larger part of the day not consuming any calories. The most popular option is to fast for 16 hours each day, and consume your calories during a specific eight-hour period.
Advocates of intermittent fasting argue that the mainstream advice to eat six meals spread evenly throughout the day is misguided. Prehistoric humans were hunter-gatherers; they foraged for food, ate what they could, and spent extended periods in a fasted state. Modern proponents of intermittent fasting argue that it's a more natural pattern of eating.
It turns out that the scientific literature supports intermittent fasting as a beneficial dieting plan that offers many general health benefits. Here are five benefits of intermittent fasting you need to know about.
Despite the plethora of different diets advertised and followed by people, losing weight works the same way regardless of what you feed your body. Weight loss occurs when your body burns more calories than you consume. By starting an intermittent fasting plan, many people lose weight simply because they snack less and eat fewer meals.
However, short term fasting can boost your metabolic rate, which causes you to burn even more calories. The combination of consuming fewer calories and burning more makes intermittent fasting a powerful weight-loss tool.
Promising animal studies have shown extended lifespans in animals ranging from mice to monkeys when exposed to intermittent fasting plans. At the metabolic level, researchers studied the impact of intermittent fasting on aging in nematode worms, which have a two-week lifespan. The study, which was published in the Cell Metabolism journal, found that fasting kept the mitochondria of the worms' cells in a youthful state.
Reduced Insulin Resistance
Type 2 diabetes is a disease of modern civilization that is primarily caused by insulin resistance. People with type 2 diabetes experience chronically high blood sugar levels because of this insulin resistance, which happens due to a combination of lifestyle factors and genetics.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce insulin resistance in men, which leads to lower blood sugar levels. A debate in the scientific community still rages about whether intermittent fasting reduces type 2 diabetes risk.
Autophagy is your body's way of regulating its cells to remove dysfunctional cell components. The term autophagy comes from an Ancient Greek word that means "self-devouring."
Numerous studies have shown that intermittent fasting increases autophagy. When the body repairs and recycles more of its damaged cells, you receive more protection from diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's.
Better Heart Health
Heart disease is the world's biggest killer, and it is responsible for one-third of deaths globally each year. Multiple risk factors influence the development of heart disease, including blood pressure, triglycerides, and blood sugar. Several studies have shown that following an intermittent fasting plan can improve heart health by reducing these risk factors for heart disease.
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that aims to return people to a more natural eating pattern that our early ancestors would've followed. Fasting windows range from 16 hours to the more extreme version of alternate day fasting, in which people eat on one day and don't consume any calories the following day. Before starting any intermittent fasting plan, it's advisable to consult with your physician or trainer.