Intermittent Fasting Benefits Backed by Research

Posted May 9, 2019 by in Health + Fitness

    

Intermittent fasting involves abstaining from eating for a certain time period. There are different popular forms of intermittent fasting, such as the 5:2 and 16/8 techniques. Numerous studies indicate that intermittent fasting can provide several health benefits. Intermittent fasting can trigger several beneficial processes in the body, which includes the following:

Positive Hormonal Changes and Cellular Repair

Fasting produces a number of beneficial effects on the body. Research says that fasting changes hormone levels, thereby facilitating the fat burning process. There is a substantial drop in insulin levels, which can promote fat metabolism.

There are also other beneficial hormonal changes. Human growth hormone can increase by up to 5 times from its baseline level in response to fasting. Human growth hormone is known to promote muscle mass and reduce body fat.

Important cellular processes are also kick-started as a result of fasting; for instance, the removal of cellular waste. Fasting also activates genes that are associated with disease prevention and extended longevity.

Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting promotes weight loss in two ways. First, you will consume fewer calories with intermittent fasting – provided you don’t overeat during meals.

Second, as discussed above, intermittent fasting decreases insulin and increases human growth hormone, which promotes weight loss. There is also increased production of noradrenaline, which breaks down body fat so that it can be used for energy production. These hormonal changes can increase metabolism from 3.6% to 14%. Fewer calories and higher metabolic rate can lead to weight loss.

A review of the scientific literature found that intermittent fasting can lead to 8% weight loss over 24 weeks. This is a significant amount.  

The subjects also experienced a 4-7% loss in waist circumference. This means that a substantial amount of the weight loss consisted of belly fat. Abdominal fat has been associated with several chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The good news is that much of the intermittent fasting weight loss comes from fat rather than muscle mass. A review study showed that intermittent fasting led to smaller amount of muscle loss as compared to long-term caloric restriction.

As such, intermittent fasting is now a popular technique for weight loss.

Intermittent Fasting Lowers Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

It is known that high levels of oxidative stress can accelerate aging and increase the risk of several chronic diseases. As a result of oxidative stress, highly reactive and unstable species known as free radicals interact with key molecules like DNA and protein and ruin them.

Studies show that intermittent fasting improves the body’s resistance to oxidative stress. Research also indicates that intermittent fasting can lower chronic inflammation, which is key factor for several chronic conditions.

Good for Your Heart

Heart disease claims the biggest number of lives worldwide among all chronic diseases. Intermittent fasting can improve several markers of heart disease, such as blood sugar levels, inflammatory markers, triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol, blood pressure and other risk factors that are strongly correlated with heart conditions.

An intermittent fasting diet can, therefore, provide several health advantages.