What is Intermittent Fasting

Does Intermittent Fasting work?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It does not specify what foods to eat, just when to eat them. You can choose to fast for 16 hours or 24 hours twice per week. During fasting periods, you can eat very little or nothing at all. The main purpose of this diet is to lose weight and improve health.

Research on intermittent fasting has been done on fat rats. They lose weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol improves. Studies in humans have shown that intermittent fasting is healthy and effective in humans as well.

Helping with Weight Loss

The foods we consume are broken down by enzymes in our gut and ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. if our cells do not use it all, it is stored in our fat cells. Sugar can only enter our cells with insulin. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there. We lose weight as our insulin levels go down. If you don’t snack between meals, insulin levels will go down. The main purpose if intermittent fasting is to allow the insulin levels to go down low enough to burn fat.

Popular Methods

  • 16/8 method (Leangains protocol) – involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, then fasting for 16 hours

This is the most popular method because it is the simplest and easiest to stick to. For example if eat your last meal by 8 pm, skip breakfast and have lunch at noon. Therefore, you would be fasting for 16 hours. 

  • Eat-Stop-Eat method – involves fasting for 24 hours twice per week

This method was made popular by fitness expert Brad Pilon and has been popular for a couple years. For example if you eat dinner at 7 pm and don’t eat again until the next day at 7 pm, you have fasted for 24 hours. Water, coffee without sugar, non-calorie drinks are allowed during this method.

  • 5:2 diet – involves consuming only 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days, while eating normally the other 5 days
              A common way to plan this method is to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, while consuming 2 or 3 small meals

By reducing calorie intake all methods should cause weight loss as long as you don’t over compensate during eating periods

 Affect on Cells and Hormones

  • Your body’s hormone levels will adjust to make stored fat more accessible
  • Your Human Growth Hormone (HGH) will skyrocket and increase fat loss and increase muscle gain
  • Insulin levels drop dramatically and with lower insulin levels it makes stored body fat more accessible
  • Your gene expression changes in function which relates to longevity and also protects against disease

 Weight loss is the most common reason for Intermittent Fasting

               It increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine

               Short-term fasting may increase your metabolism rate by 3.6-14%

Main Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

 

Does Intermittent Fasting work?

  • Weight loss
  • Insulin protection from Type 2 diabetes
  • Inflammation, which is a key driver for diseases
  • Heart health, which may reduce cholesterol, blood triglyceride’s, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance, which are all factors in heart disease
  • May prevent cancer
  • Brain health increases. This diet may aid in the growth of new nerve cells and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease
  • Studies have shown it can help against ant-aging. Tested on rats it can increase their life span by 36-83%

Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting

  • Hunger
  • Weakness
  • Lower brain performance

               These side effects are only temporary and will reside once your body is used to the diet

With any diet, always consult your doctor before starting. Especially if you have any of the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Blood sugar regulation problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Taking medications
  • Underweight
  • History of eating disorders
  • Women trying to conceive
  • History of Amenorrhea
  • Pregnant or nursing

Sources:

HealthLine
Science Direct
PubMed

 

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