Like so much that is both new and then subsequently grows rapidly in popularity, there is a lot separation of myths from facts that’s needs to be done. Accordingly, if you are interested in intermittent fasting, read on to get the low-down on this health regime revelation!
What exactly is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting entails an individual regularly and periodically refraining from the consumption of any food over a set period of time. The duration of the fast can vary but is normally between 16 and 36 hours, which can be done once to three times a week.
This at first may sound somewhat counter-intuitive. After all, the vast majority of us have been conditioned to accept that food is something that should be regularly eaten, each and every day. However, intermittent fasting fundamentally challenges that orthodoxy. More and more evidence is coming to light as to the numerous health advantages that intermittent fasting can bestow upon us.
Lets look at the 10 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
10Intermittent Fasting Benefit 1: Helps with Weight Loss
Evidence continues to grow as to the effectiveness of intermittent fasting allowing for weight loss. The logic behind this is that fasting allows for the appetite to be decreased, as opposed to the body burning more calories. Put another way, if you’re less hungry, you will eat less.
9Intermittent Fasting Benefit 2: Fights off inflammation
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Reducing inflammation is key to helping the body stay healthy, pushing back against a range of potentially very serious health conditions, including heart disease and some forms of cancer.
8Intermittent Fasting Benefit 3: Improves brain health/function
Another significant benefit of intermittent fasting is that it can help us keep our minds healthier for longer. This translates into various mental benefits to include improved memory, better concentration, and greater protection from serious neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, or dementia.
7Intermittent Fasting Benefit 4: Slows down the aging process
If you’re looking to reduce the effects on the body that the passage of time so casually inflicts, then intermittent fasting might be just the thing for you! The secret behind this, as shown by recent evidence, is that when fasting, the body releases molecules that can slow down the aging of the arteries, which in turn slows down the overall effect of aging on the body. One of the many benefits here is potentially younger looking skin with less wrinkles!
6Intermittent Fasting Benefit 5: Tackles type II Diabetes
Intermittent fasting also offers promising results for those with type II diabetes. The British Medical Journal recently highlighted a study where planned intermittent fasting could actually reverse the symptoms of this very serious and chronic condition, including so far as the cessation of diabetic medication and insulin injections. This is reiterated and expounded upon by acclaimed author Dr. Jason Fung MD, in his best-selling book “The Diabetes Code Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally”, where Dr. Fung provides a revolutionary guide to reversing diabetes.
5Intermittent Fasting Benefit 6: Clears the Skin
When the body has its usual digestive urges dampened down, as with intermittent fasting, one effect is that the body resorts to its own natural detoxification system. This translates into relief from those suffering from acne as well as greasy or overly-dry skin. The end result is healthier, smoother, and better looking skin. Some teenagers would do certainly do well to keep intermittent fasting in mind!
4Intermittent Fasting Benefit 7: Detoxifies the Liver
The liver is the primary organ for ridding the body of toxins, since everything that we eat and drink gets needs to be filtered through it. Consequently, the liver takes a continual bombardment every day from what we eat. Intermittent fasting interrupts that, giving the liver a vacation to be freed up from the bombardment of salt, sugar, vitamins, and nutrients, as well as the by-products of any bad food we consume.
3Intermittent Fasting Benefit 8: Improves Blood Pressure
A 2018 study identified how intermittent fasting (in particular the 16:8 version – see below), could help lower blood pressure levels in those with hypertension. As we know, high blood pressure can lead to serious medical conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems.
2Intermittent Fasting Benefit 9: Lowers “Bad” Cholesterol
When the body goes into fasting mode, one of the changes that occurs is that it will start to burn its own stores of pre-existing fat. One result of that particular process is that the transmission of bad cholesterol around the body becomes significantly inhibited – and that translates into an over-time reduction in the body’s bad cholesterol levels. This is a valuable-phenomena since this consequently translates into potentially lower life threatening arterial clogging plaque!
1Intermittent Fasting Benefit 10: Decreases Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
As we have seen, intermittent fasting is effective at removing fat from the blood (even more so than a “regular” calorie-controlled diet). That in turn, unsurprisingly, is good news for the heart and preventing the onset of serious cardiovascular health issues to include clogged arteries which can translate into heart attacks and stroke.
3 Most Effective Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are a number of time combinations and plans for intermittent fasting. Some of these can be found with a simple online google search but a great resource on intermittent fasting is ”The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting by acclaimed author Dr. Jason Fung MD. Following are three of the most popular fasting programs.1
The 16 / 8 Method – This 16 / 8 diet consists of 16 hours of fasting and an eight-hour window for eating as you would. A popular way to implement the 16 / 8 is to fast at night, (which can give you an eight-hour head-start into the 16 hours of fasting), miss breakfast, eat your first meal of the day around mid-day, and your last meal in the early evening, keeping all meals within the eight-hour “permitted” eating time-frame.2
The 5 / 2 Method The 5/ 2 is a variant of intermittent fasting that sees the user eat as they would for five days straight, and then have two subsequent days when they don’t eat. Alternatively, a variant of this is to eat very little, usually no more than 400 to 500 calories a day on each of the fasting days. Of course, the variant means no actual days with zero calories. However, that too is actually also the case with the 16 / 8, and 400 to 500 calories is a bare minimum for most people to consume so as to allow their bodies to function as they should on fasting days. For those wanting zero food consumption, for up to potentially 36 hours at a time, see Alternate day fasting below.3
The Alternate Day Fasting Method – This fasting variant entails, as the name suggests, eating what you would on one day and then abstaining from food the next. That can mean not eating in some cases for up to 36 hours at a time (allowing for sleep), so this is not something that can be committed to lightly. It is not recommended to jump straight into this fasting regime from scratch and without prior fasting experience.
If there are any underlying medical conditions and you are thinking of taking up the alternate day regime, then medical advice should be sought and your physician should be consulted first.
One can vary the alternate day regime a little by eating a bare minimum on fasting days – again, as with the 5 / 2, something in the range of 400 to 500 calories max a day.
Other things to Keep in Mind about fasting
While fasting, it is very important to remain hydrated. Water is of course the standard when it comes to taking fluids. However, you can also consider drinking coffee, green tea, apple cider vinegar (diluted, never “neat”), or plant-based milks like almond or flax (in moderation).
There is also a good case for drinking things like lemon water and / or celery juice too while fasting. The lemon water helps you to stay hydrated, boosts the toxic flush of your cells, helps with energy levels, and is minimal in caloric content. Celery juice is also an excellent anti-oxidant, with particular benefits for cleansing the liver, and is also bare minimum in terms of calories.
When fasting, always be mindful of what your body is telling you. When properly planned and thought out, intermittent fasting can open up the door to a whole range of health benefits. However, irrespective of which fasting plan you opt for, always be alert to the danger of pushing yourself too hard. If fasting causes any unexpected problems such as weakness, dizziness, faintness, or heart palpitations, put things on pause while you seek medical advice. Any food (or abstinence of food) regime can always be taken too far. Keep in mind of discipline, balance, hydration and that at the end of the day, your health and welfare should always be first and foremost.
Fasting has been a human practice for thousands of years and there’s good reason for that. Not just in a religious or spiritual sense, but as we have seen, in any number of ways fasting can be beneficial for your health. That the evidence for the health benefits of intermittent fasting continues to stack up only serves to cement fasting ever further into the human psyche of whole well-being. Just as how veganism, for example, was on the sidelines of main-stream society for decades, but is now widely accepted, the same will surely become true of intermittent fasting.