Intermittent Fasting – Different Forms and Their Benefits

health benefits of intermitting fasting

Intermittent fasting, or “IF,” involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. Historians suggest that our ancestors often went without food for extended periods due to the need to search for food. Unlike them, we now have easy access to food, making fasting a voluntary choice. This article will delve into the current scientific benefits of intermittent fasting. Before that, let’s examine the various methods of intermittent fasting.

There exist various forms of intermittent fasting, with the majority recommending abstaining from food for a duration of 12 to 24 hours. Below are a few prevalent variations of intermittent fasting:

types of intermittent fasting

Different Types of Intermittent Fasting

1. The 16:8 Plan

This particular form of intermittent fasting requires abstaining from food for 16 hours and consuming meals within an 8-hour timeframe. For example, one may choose to eat only from 10 am to 6 pm while fasting.

2. The 24-Hour Fast

You can fast for 24 hours by abstaining from food, only consuming water or fluids, and having one main meal every 24 hours. This fasting routine can be done on a weekly or monthly basis.

3. The Alternate Day Fast

The alternate-day fasting method is a more rigorous form of intermittent fasting, in which individuals consume food solely on alternate days. However, numerous individuals find it challenging to maintain this pattern for an extended duration.

4. The 5:2 Plan

In this particular form of intermittent fasting, individuals restrict their calorie intake for two days per week, typically consuming around 500 to 600 calories, and then resume their regular eating habits for the remaining five days.

Research-Backed Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Scientists link the advantages of intermittent fasting to providing the body with a respite from the energy-consuming task of digesting food. When the body is not occupied with breaking down food, it redirects its energy towards eliminating impaired cells, a phenomenon known as Autophagy. Autophagy has demonstrated its ability to decrease the likelihood of developing cancer and other long-term illnesses. Consuming fewer calories results in lower blood sugar levels, which can be advantageous for individuals with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Below are the scientifically-proven benefits of intermittent fasting:

1. Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting is a popular choice for individuals seeking to lose weight. This method involves consuming fewer calories, leading to reduced insulin levels. Moreover, intermittent fasting boosts HGH (Human Growth Hormones) and norepinephrine levels, prompting the body to utilize stored fat for energy. By increasing metabolic rate, intermittent fasting aids in burning more calories.

According to a 2015 scientific literature review in the Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology journal, Intermittent fasting caused a weight loss of between 3 and 8% over a 3-24 week period. In addition, the study participants lost 4 to 7% of their waist circumference between 6-24 weeks. The participants lost a considerable amount of visceral fat, which is known to cause many diseases.

2. Lowers the Risk of Type II Diabetes

Obesity is a significant risk factor in the development of diabetes. Utilizing intermittent fasting for weight management can effectively reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

health benefits of intermitting fasting

An examination of evidence in a 2014 review paper in the Translational Research Journal showed that alternate-day fasting exhibits potential in decreasing blood glucose levels and insulin in individuals with diabetes. Additionally, the researchers have suggested that intermittent fasting may reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes in adults, as they observed a decline in insulin sensitivity within this particular group.

3. Improved Cardiovascular Health

2016 review found that intermittent fasting improves several aspects of heart health. Intermittent fasting reduces markers of heart disease such as heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides in animals and humans.

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4. Improved Cognitive Function

2013 study in mice found that intermittent fasting improves brain health. Typically, what benefits the body also benefits the mind. Intermittent fasting (IF) enhances various metabolic factors crucial for optimal brain performance, including blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, inflammation, and oxidative stress. A study conducted on mice revealed that those subjected to intermittent fasting displayed improved memory and learning abilities in comparison to those with regular access to food.

Besides, another animal study published in 2016 found that IF reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Stroke, all of which affect the brain.

Bottom Line

Intermittent fasting has been an inherent aspect of human evolution throughout history. Its advantages extend far beyond just weight loss, which is widely recognized. If you desire a more organized approach to intermittent fasting, it would be beneficial to reach out to a proficient health coach, doctor, or nutritionist who specializes in this field.

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