Article brought to you by our partner DoFasting.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern consisting of eating and fasting periods, but it is also a growing trend with proven benefits for overall health.
It is important to note that intermittent fasting is not a traditional diet that dictates what to eat or prohibits certain foods. However, it is generally recommended to follow a healthy diet in conjunction with this eating pattern for the best results.
Curious about what this lifestyle can do to your body? Let’s look at 10 proven health benefits of intermittent fasting and find out!
1. It Will Help You Lose Weight and Body Fat
Intermittent fasting has gained popularity as a weight loss method, with short-term studies suggesting that it may be effective for this purpose. However, it is still unclear how effective it is in helping to lose weight in the long run.
This eating habit can help you drop a few pounds by reducing your daily calorie intake without counting calories—as long as you don’t try to compensate by overeating during eating hours, you should lose weight.
Simplicity is key to intermittent fasting’s popularity. It is an effective, safe way to burn excess body fat and, consequently, lose weight.
2. It Will Help You Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels under Control
While losing weight is the most popular reason people get into intermittent fasting, blood sugar management is a close second.
Research suggests that intermittent fasting may increase insulin sensitivity and, in turn, reduce insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the body becomes less responsive to this hormone, leading to high blood sugar levels and increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Human studies show that fasting for more than 8 weeks may significantly reduce blood sugar and insulin. While these findings show promise, there’s still a lot of research needed to confirm the effects of intermittent fasting on humans in the long run.
3. It Will Help You Keep Your Heart Healthy
Restricting calories for prolonged periods may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and prevent stroke.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting boosts your heart health by improving the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, “bad” cholesterol, and high blood triglycerides.
In addition, intermittent fasting is of great help when fighting obesity, which significantly contributes to the development of heart conditions such as heart failure and coronary heart disease.
While intermittent fasting is not a cure-all for heart disease, it is certainly a simple change of habits that may bring significant benefits and help you keep your heart in top shape.
4. It Will Help You Keep Your Brain Healthy
Intermittent fasting has been found to have neuroprotective effects. In fact, research shows that IF protects your brain from neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
And how does it do it? Intermittent fasting keeps your brain healthy by increasing the rate of neurogenesis – a process responsible for forming new neurons in the brain that plays a key role in preserving cognition through ageing.
In addition, intermittent fasting has been linked to increased levels of BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein involved in the cognitive processes of learning and memory. Practicing intermittent fasting may help you clear brain fog, feel more focused, and improve your mental health.
5. It Helps You Keep Your Gut Healthy
An increasing number of clinical trials suggest that intermittent fasting protects your gut by promoting the growth of “good” gut bacteria, thus ensuring a diverse microbiota. And gut diversity is an essential aspect of a healthy gut.
In addition, fasting prevents you from late-night eating, which has been shown to disrupt your circadian rhythm and negatively affect the gut by causing a microbiota imbalance.
Individuals with a leaky gut may immensely benefit from intermittent fasting, as long breaks between meals give your gut time to repair itself. In fact, research has shown that fasting can improve gut barrier function and reduce gut permeability.
6. It Can Help You Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a critical player in your body’s healing process. But if it’s so important, why would you want to eliminate inflammation? Simply put, you only need to reduce inflammation when it has overstayed its welcome.
Inflammation becomes a problem when it doesn’t go away after your body has healed. This is also known as chronic inflammation, and it can occur due to a variety of reasons.
Chronic inflammation has been shown to damage healthy cells and, over a long period of time, it may even lead to cancer.
Research suggests that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation by reducing oxidative stress, being beneficial in both the long and short term.
7. It Can Increase Your Metabolism
As previously discussed, intermittent fasting can improve your metabolic health by stabilizing your blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance. Your metabolism, a complex chemical process that turns food and drinks into energy, takes up a large part of your metabolic health.
How does intermittent fasting help in this process? Aside from normalizing your insulin levels, intermittent fasting can help you reset your circadian rhythm—a sleep/wake cycle responsible for keeping several bodily functions, including metabolism.
In other words, eating at the wrong time can throw off your circadian rhythm, and a disrupted circadian rhythm may lead to metabolic health issues.
Intermittent fasting can help you ensure your circadian rhythm flows correctly, preventing potential complications.
8. It Can Help You Build Muscle and Repair Cells
Autophagy is another popular reason why people start intermittent fasting. It’s a process during which your body destroys damaged cells and regenerates new ones. Simply put, autophagy is a cell-cleansing system essential to normal cell function.
Your body can trigger autophagy anytime, but the most common reasons are a lack of nutrients and cellular damage.
Interestingly, you can induce autophagy yourself—all you need to do is create stress for your cells, which can be done by intermittent fasting, calorie restriction, and exercise.
Although human studies are limited and more research is needed to determine the optimal fasting time for autophagy to be started in humans, animal studies have shown that autophagy can be triggered anywhere between 24 to 48 hours of fasting.
Autophagy doesn’t do much on its own regarding muscle building. This is where hGH comes in. hGH, the human growth hormone, helps build muscle and maintains a normal body structure. And here lies another benefit of intermittent fasting: it has been shown to greatly increase hGH levels in just a few days.
9. It Can Help You Reduce the Risk of Certain Chronic Diseases
Chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, are major causes of death in the United States. Luckily, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve markers of chronic diseases, like blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Some scientists believe that intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of cancer by limiting the ability of malignous cells to adapt and survive. Additionally, there is promising evidence that fasting may increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
However, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between intermittent fasting and chronic diseases, including cancer. It is not recommended to use this eating pattern as a sole treatment for chronic diseases. Individuals suffering from chronic conditions should consult a medical professional before changing their dietary or lifestyle habits.
10. It Can Increase Your Life Expectancy
Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been praised for contributing to a longer and healthier life.
There is some evidence from animal studies that intermittent fasting, like caloric restriction, may contribute to a longer and healthier life. According to this research, intermittent fasting may improve health markers that reduce the risk of age-related cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
Autophagy, a process by which the body’s cells break down and recycle waste materials, plays a key role in delaying aging and promoting longevity. Research has shown that inducing autophagy through intermittent fasting or other means can increase life expectancy in animals.
How Long Does It Take To See the Results and Ways to Speed Up the Process
While some effects of intermittent fasting, such as reduced bloating and better sleep, are noticeable just after a few days of fasting, it can take between 3 to 24 weeks to see weight loss results. The actual time needed varies depending on the individual’s physical health and the type of intermittent fasting they’ve chosen.
General lifestyle choices also affect how quickly you see the results of intermittent fasting and its effectiveness. If you want to get the most out of this eating pattern, keep reading. Here are 4 easy ways to boost the benefits of your intermittent fasting journey:
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body: being physically active can help with body weight management, coordination, sleep quality, and state of mind.
It is commonly said that you shouldn’t exercise while intermittent fasting, but this isn’t entirely true. In reality, exercise and intermittent fasting go hand in hand in delivering health benefits such as weight loss and low blood sugar levels.
Low-intensity cardio workouts are your best bet while fasting. If you want to give them a try, here are a few examples of low-intensity cardio that you can do without even having to go to the gym:
But remember: always listen to your body. Feeling weak or dizzy at any point during your workout is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If this happens, stop your training and have something to eat.
If you’re new to physical activity, make sure you start slow. DoFasting can help you find your balance with intermittent-fasting-friendly workouts, so you can get moving while staying committed to your new habits.
Replenish lost electrolytes
Fasting can be challenging on the body if done incorrectly.
During a fast, you will lose a significant amount of fluids. This is partly because you will abstain from food, which accounts for about 20% of your fluid intake.
To replenish lost electrolytes, it is crucial to incorporate electrolyte-rich foods into your diet and drink plenty of water.
Electrolyte-rich foods include:
- Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens
- Bananas, strawberries, and watermelon
- Almonds, peanuts, and other nuts
Incorporate these foods into your first meal after a fast to replenish all lost electrolytes and stay healthy while fasting.
And one last suggestion—drink lots of water. Aside from regular water, you can also drink electrolyte-infused water to help you maintain your levels of electrolytes. But before drinking it, make sure it doesn’t contain additives that could break your fast.
Manage stress through yoga and meditation
Yoga has been proven to be an effective stress management tool that brings a myriad of health benefits. It can increase energy levels and improve mood, making it a good choice for those fasting. In fact, practicing yoga during a fast can enhance your overall workout experience.
One crucial element of both yoga and meditation is deep breathing. Here’s a simple exercise you can do right now to incorporate this practice into your routine:
To start, sit in a comfortable lotus position, place your hands on your knees, and close your eyes. Take a deep breath through your nose, feel your belly expand, and exhale through your nose. Repeat this cycle as long as you need until you start feeling relaxed.
It’s normal to find this difficult at first, but with regular practice, you will become more adept at using yoga and meditation to manage stress.
Intermittent fasting is a time-restricted eating pattern proven to be an effective weight loss method. In addition to helping with weight loss, IF can also help to regulate insulin and cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and promote overall health and longevity.
However, it’s important to note that intermittent fasting may not suit everyone. Those who should not try intermittent fasting include individuals under 18 years of age, pregnant individuals, breastfeeding individuals, and those with a history of eating disorders.