Here Are (Some of) The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting isn't the latest fad diet, there are a multitude of benefits as to why Intermittent Fasting is a great way of managing weight loss. This diet regimen requires the individual to cycle between periods of feeding and abstaining from any significant sources of calories and macronutrients. Although fasting practices have been employed throughout antiquity (Source) as well as various religious groups; the science of fasting has only emerged in recent decades.
Fasting ranges can vary from daily periods of time restricted feeding – 16:8 and the warrior diet are popular among fitness enthusiasts – to clustering three to seven days of water fasts every quarter or month. Unlike other traditional diets, intermittent fasting (or IF for short) doesn’t space out meals throughout the day; nor does it exclude any particular food groups unless the individual has any underlying intolerances (dairy, eggs and gluten come to mind).
The individual’s feeding period can be as regimented or as intuitive as they like, some fitness enthusiasts or ‘biohackers’ have even opted for combining IF with other diets, although the sustainability of this practice comes into question.
So, what can I possibly gain with intermittent fasting?
Weight loss and improved body composition
Improved brain health
Increased insulin sensitivity
Intermittent Fasting on Weight Loss
Benefits of Intermittent fasting is that it sets up the conditions for weight loss via restricting calories (less time to eat = less food eaten). If you reduce your calorie intake through time and not increased meal frequency, there is a better chance of preserving more lean mass on your body. In other words, you’re more likely to keep more muscle (Source) during your dieting phase.
It has been shown through studies that hormonal changes during a fast can enhance body recomposition. Higher amounts of norepinephrine and growth hormone, as well as lower insulin levels, accelerate lipolysis to maintain the body’s energy requirements. Therefore, intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding has been shown to speed up one’s metabolism (Source).
Mental Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting increases the amount of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF has been linked to cognitive health problems such as depression when its levels become too low.
Food restriction also induces autophagy, a mechanism of the body’s cells essentially recycling their old parts and keeping what’s useful. This process occurs throughout the body and its benefits go beyond just fat loss. Autophagy in the brain is neuroprotective. Fasting has actually shown to limit damage caused by strokes (Source).
Cholesterol and Diabetes
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting also include the ability to modulate one’s cholesterol ratio (LDL: HDL) to more favourable levels; the bad cholesterol – LDL – gets reduced and the good cholesterol – HDL – goes up. HDL protects the body from heart attacks and strokes by carrying excess cholesterol back to the liver where it can be metabolized away.
By design, intermittent fasting acts against and lowers the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Too many cheat meals and excess snacking between cheat meals isn't great. It raises the body’s blood sugar and increases the risk of becoming resistant to high insulin levels. In a human study, intermittent fasting reduced both blood sugars and insulin levels. One potential concern about fasting and insulin sensitivity is the lack of consistency and gender dependency (Source). If you are craving something sweet but don't want to splurge on something unhealthy - don't threat. Take a look at our Ultimate Healthy Chocolate Protein Mug Cake - 26 grams of protein from 170 calories!
As with all lifestyle changes, please consult your physician and seek advice from qualified professionals before adjusting your diet.