It is presently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends known as intermittent fasting (IF). Most people use it to shed weight, boost their overall health, and streamline their daily activities. Researchers have conducted several types of research and they’ve shown that it has significant impacts on your body and brain, as well as helping you live longer.
Definition of intermittent fasting
An intermittent fasting diet involves times of fasting alternating with intervals of eating. It doesn’t tell you what meals to consume, but only when. Because it is more appropriately defined as an eating habit, it is not a diet in the usual sense. A common approach to intermittent fasting involves daily 16-hour fasts or twice-weekly 24-hour fasts.
Fasting has been practiced by almost all humans throughout history. Hunter-gatherers from long ago didn’t have the options of grocery stores, refrigerators, or fresh food accessible all year round. On other occasions, they might discover that there was nothing to eat.
People were able to survive on little or no food because of the dramatic and wide-ranging changes in their behavior that accompanied this transition to nutrition independence. Fasting is a more natural state of being than regularly eating three to four (or more) meals each day. Many people engage in fasting as part of their religious or spiritual practice, including those of the Islamic faith, Christians, Jews, and Buddhists.
Main methods of IF
Intermittent fasting has numerous different approaches, each of which divides the day or week into two distinct eating times. You will be fasting throughout such intervals and will be either consuming very little food or refusing to eat anything. This is the most often used method:
- 16/8 method: The also-called Leangains method entails missing breakfast, eating for eight hours a day, and confining your daily meal period to the evening hours of 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. You then go on a 16-hour fast before your second meal.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This entails fasting for 24 hours on the days you do it, for as by not eating anything after dinner on one day and before supper on the following.
- The 5:2 diet: With this approach, you only have to restrict your caloric intake to between 500–600 calories per day on two nonconsecutive days of the week, but on the other five days you can eat normally.
- Alternate-day fasting: you have fasting days that alternate with non-fasting days. Several variants of this approach exist. On fasting days, some of them allow 500 calories. However, in one small research, alternate-day fasting was not shown to be any more successful than a conventional calorie-restrictive diet in generating weight loss or weight maintenance.
- The Warrior Diet was first popularized by fitness guru Ori Hofmekler. This approach calls for a little quantity of raw produce eaten throughout the day, along with one large meal at night. To simplify, you fast all day and have a regular meal every night within a four-hour time period.
The above strategies all lead to weight reduction, so long as you do not make up for the calories you are consuming during your meal intervals.
The 16/8 technique is frequently thought of as the simplest, most sustainable, and most effortless to follow. It is, in fact, the most-used.
How IF would change our body and genes
When you fast, numerous cellular and molecular processes occur in your body. For example, hormones regulate the amount of fat your body stores in order to make it easier to gain body fat. You can also say that your cells do essential repairs and alter gene expression.
When you go without food, certain changes occur in your body:
- HGH (Hormone Growth Hormone): As much as 5-fold, the levels of growth hormone increase. To mention a few, this provides advantages for fat reduction and muscular growth.
- The responsiveness of the insulin to the rise in insulin sensitivity drops substantially. Lowered insulin levels increase the amount of stored body fat that may be accessed.
- Intermittent fasting helps your cells to do some cellular repair while you’re not eating. Autophagy is a type of cellular self-digestion, in which cells eliminate or digest outdated or malfunctioning proteins that accumulate within cells.
- Changes in gene expression relating to lifespan and protection against illness have been observed.
Intermittent fasting promotes health through changing hormone levels, cell function, and gene expression.
IF is the best-ever weight-loss technique
Most people who attempt intermittent fasting do so in an effort to shed weight. Intermittent fasting can help you automatically reduce your calorie consumption because you will be eating fewer meals. Weight reduction is also helped by changing hormone levels with intermittent fasting.
Norepinephrine is released at the same time insulin is lowered, resulting in increased levels of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Changes in hormone levels might lead to a 3.6–14% rise in your metabolic rate when you are fasting for a brief period of time.
Inducing weight loss by affecting both sides of the calorie equation, intermittent fasting induces weight reduction.
According to research, intermittent fasting can be a very effective weight-loss strategy. Review research revealed that 3–8% of the weight was lost after 3–24 weeks, as a result of adhering to this dietary plan.
As a result, patients had a decrease of about 4–7% of their waist circumference, which signifies a substantial loss of dangerous visceral fat, which accumulates around internal organs and causes illness.
A further study revealed that intermittent fasting produces less muscle loss than traditional methods of dietary restriction, including eating very little or constantly restricting food intake.
Contrary to popular belief, intermittent fasting has a lot to do with eating fewer total calories and not burning fat. Don’t assume that just because you overeat when you’re on a diet, you’ll never lose any weight.
Amazing benefits of IF
Intermittent fasting has been studied extensively in both animals and humans. While these studies have demonstrated substantial advantages for weight management and overall health, it even is proved to help people live longer.
Among intermittent fasting’s huge health advantages, these are the most notable:
- Losing weight and abdominal fat can be helped with intermittent fasting, without requiring you to deliberately restrict calories.
- Resistance to insulin: Intermittent fasting has shown to reduce insulin resistance by 3 to 6 percent, with the added benefit of fasting insulin levels reducing by 20 to 31 percent, helping to ward off type 2 diabetes.
- Inflammation: Results indicate a reduction in indicators of inflammation, which contributes to the development of several chronic illnesses.
- “Bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar, and insulin resistance may all be lower in people who practice intermittent fasting.
- It is possible that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer in animals.
- Increasing the brain hormone BDNF might potentially assist the development of new nerve cells, as shown by intermittent fasting. Alzheimer’s disease may potentially be protected against.
- While caloric restriction can prolong longevity in rats, intermittent fasting does as well. thirty-six to seventy-three percent longer, on average, when compared to fed rats.
The early phases of research must be remembered when doing any type of investigation. Most of the research was quite small, lasted just a short time, or used animals. At this time, there are many questions that have yet to be solved by better quality human research.
A healthy lifestyle should be simple
Being healthy isn’t difficult, but keeping that way may be rather difficult. There are a number of hurdles to overcome, which include devising a healthy meal plan and preparing food. Instead of planning meals, preparing food, and cleaning up afterward, intermittent fasting can make things easier because you don’t have to do these things when you don’t want to.
This is why intermittent fasting is such a common habit among those who prioritize their health since it helps to enhance their health while saving them time and energy.
Those who should avoid IF
Fasting isn’t for everyone. Fasting should only be done under the supervision of a medical expert if the person is underweight or has a history of eating problems.
As is often the case, these instances can be downright destructive.
While it appears that intermittent fasting is just as healthy for both men and women, there is some data to show that it may not be as effective for women.
A single research found that it helped males to enhance their insulin sensitivity, while it caused women’s blood sugar levels to increase.
Though there is no human research on this issue, in studies on rats, intermittent fasting has been linked to feminization, impotence, infertility, and missing periods in female rats.
There are several anecdotal stories from women who stopped menstruating as a result of implementing an intermittent fasting regimen and then resumed regular menstrual cycles when they went back to their usual eating patterns.
Additionally, ladies should be aware of the possible side effects of intermittent fasting.
Take it slow and quit if there are any issues like amenorrhea (absence of menstruation).
It is recommended that you do not fast if you have reproductive difficulties or are attempting to conceive. Additionally, if you are pregnant or nursing, you should not follow this eating plan.
Risk, benefits, and side effects
As a result, hunger is a commonly experienced consequence of intermittent fasting. Additionally, you may also have weakness and your cognitive abilities may be impaired. However, you may not see results until your body has fully adapted to the new food plan.
Intermittent fasting should only be attempted under the guidance of a doctor who is aware of your medical history. You should keep an eye on your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
- Have problems with blood sugar regulation.
- Have low blood pressure.
- Take medications.
- Are underweight.
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
It should be noted that intermittent fasting has an exceptional safety profile. You’re healthy and well-nourished nonetheless, so fasting doesn’t pose any threat.
IF may be difficult… but maybe not
When compared to eating less every day, initial human trials indicated that both performed equally well for weight loss, but many struggled with the fasting days. It was considerably more unpleasant than merely eating less, so I dismissed it. My suggestion was to keep to a healthy plant-based Mediterranean diet.
In fact, new evidence shows that several IF methods are acceptable, successful, and sustainable, especially when paired with a healthy plant-based diet. So I’m ready to take it on the chin.
Clocks developed to be in sync with the day/night cycle. A midday diet, a midnight slumber. Obesity and diabetes are linked to late-night eating.
On this basis, University of Alabama researchers studied a small group of obese males with prediabetes. They contrasted “early time-restricted feeding,” when all meals were eaten between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., or spaced over 12 hours (between 7 am and 7 pm). After five weeks, the eight-hour group had considerably lower insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity, as well as reduced blood pressure. The best? The eight-hour group also reported less hunger. No one was hungry.
Even those who didn’t drop a pound benefitted by eating earlier in the day and extending the nighttime fast.
While Intermittent fasting helps some people lose weight, it is not for everyone. It’s not suggested for those who have or are prone to eating problems. It may also be a problem for people with underlying health issues.
If you decide to practice intermittent fasting, keep in mind that nutrition quality is essential. It’s impossible to gorge on ultra-processed meals and expect to lose weight or improve your health. Also, before starting an intermittent fast, talk to your doctor.