Intermittent fasting has gained significant popularity in recent years as a potential solution for weight loss and improving overall health. It’s definitely something you’ve heard at least once, or maybe you know someone who practices it for weight loss or health purposes. But what exactly is intermittent fasting? This dietary approach involves alternating cycles of eating and fasting, which have been practiced for centuries by different cultures and religions.
Beyond its weight management benefits, intermittent fasting has also been linked to various health benefits, including improved metabolism, better brain function, and increased longevity. How does intermittent fasting work, and what sets it apart from conventional dieting? The experts at Better Weigh Medical provided us with interesting information about the topic. So let’s dive into it.
Understanding how intermittent fasting works
Intermittent fasting is not a diet or meal plan in the traditional sense, where you’re restricted in the types and quantities of foods you consume. Instead, it’s a pattern of eating that focuses on the timing of meals. There are a massive variety of methods of fasting, but the most popular ones include:
This strategy entails limiting your eating window to 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours daily. Typically, people skip breakfast and eat their first meal around noon, finishing their last meal by 8 p.m.
Using this approach, people eat normally five days a week and then drastically cut back on calories (typically 500–600 calories) on the two non-consecutive days.
This method involves a 24-hour fast once or twice a week, where no solid food is consumed. Water, herbal tea, and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fasting period.
Using this method, people alternate between usual eating days and fasting days, during which they consume fewer calories.
Top 5 benefits of intermittent fasting
Beyond promoting weight loss, intermittent fasting can provide many other health benefits.
One of the best ways intermittent fasting improves health is by improving insulin sensitivity.
One key factor that influences fat storage is insulin. Continual eating causes the body to produce insulin all day. When a person has too much insulin, their cells begin to fight it, which forces the body to produce more. In order to improve insulin resistance, we look for ways to reduce the quantity of insulin the body produces.
While fasting, the body’s insulin levels decrease, allowing cells to become more responsive to insulin when food is consumed. Improved insulin sensitivity is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and improved fat metabolism.
Cellular Repair and Autophagy
During fasting, the body undergoes a process called autophagy, where cells remove damaged components and regenerate new ones. This process is essential for cellular repair and helps to maintain the health of various organs and tissues.
Intermittent fasting leads to changes in various hormones, such as an increase in norepinephrine, which can boost metabolism and facilitate fat burning. Eventually, human growth hormone (HGH) levels may rise, promoting fat loss and muscle gain.
These hormones aren’t the only ones affected. It has been shown that in obese or overweight women, weight loss techniques, such as intermittent fasting, might reduce estrogen levels. Compared to women who are not overweight, these women typically have higher estrogen levels.
Caloric Deficit and Weight Loss
It is known that weight loss occurs when you consume fewer calories than the ones your body burns during the day.
By limiting your daily calorie intake and putting you in a calorie deficit, intermittent fasting also promotes weight loss. That is possible because you won’t consume as much as you would during a typical eating pattern, even if you eat more after the fasting period. Intermittent fasting naturally creates a caloric deficit, especially when combined with mindful eating during the feeding window.
Studies suggest intermittent fasting can influence gene expression related to longevity and disease prevention. It activates specific genes that protect cells from damage and improve overall health.
Additionally, time-restricted eating impacts nearly 40% of the genes in the pancreas, brain, and adrenal glands, all of which are crucial for hormone control. It has repeatedly been demonstrated that maintaining a healthy hormone balance prevents stress problems and diabetes.
Intermittent fasting is a well-known dietary approach that offers more than just weight loss benefits. It can improve overall health and longevity by regulating hormones, promoting cellular repair, and affecting gene expression. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that not everyone will benefit from intermittent fasting, and that individual outcomes may differ. It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before beginning any new diet or fasting program to make sure it fits your specific needs and objectives. As with any lifestyle change, balance and consistency are key to reaping the potential benefits of intermittent fasting.