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More Than Weight Loss: Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  • 31 August, 2021
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  • By Aleksandra Cichuta

Your body has a natural ability to detox and fasting triggers it like nothing else. But it doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself for days. Welcome to the Intermittent Fasting approach.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern when you cycle between short periods of eating and fasting. It is not a diet because it doesn’t tell you what foods to it but only when to eat.

Many studies done on animals suggest huge health benefits while the method is not difficult to follow. Perhaps the very reason why Intermittent Fasting is one of the most popular world’s health and fitness trends.

How to Fast

There are three methods of Intermittent Fasting, in which you either split your day or your week into periods of eating and fasting:

  • The 16/8 method (also called the Leangains protocol): your daily eating is restricting to a period of 8 hours, following by fasting for 16 hours.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat method: You fast for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day. You eat normally on other days.
  • The 5:2 diet method: You consume only 500–600 calories on two nonconsecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
Is Fasting Worth Trying? The Benefits

The Intermittent Fasting is backed by many studies done in the 21 century. While the long term benefits are yet to be observed, the short term ones are many.

The American Heart Association stated in 2017 that intermittent fasting may produce weight loss, reduce insulin resistance, and lower the risk of cardiometabolic diseases. A 2019 research concluded that intermittent fasting may help with obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and inflammation. 

Here are the main health benefits of the intermittent fasting:

  • Weight loss: helps to lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously count calories
  • Insulin resistance: reduces insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which  protects against type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation
  • Heart health: Reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance — all risk factors for heart disease
  • Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer
  • Brain health: increases the brain hormone BDNF and may support the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Anti-aging: Possible long term benefit is an extended lifespan. This was confirmed in the animal studies which showed that fasted rats lived 36–83% longer.
A Careful Lifestyle Choice

While intermittent fasting brings many health benefits and can become a lifestyle, it is not for everyone.

When to avoid it or consult your doctor before trying?

If you’re underweight or have a history of eating disorders, you should not fast without consulting with a health professional first.

If you have issues with fertility and/or are trying to conceive, consider holding off on intermittent fasting for now.

This eating pattern is also not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Like with every change, there is no one solution for all. Observe your body and if you are fairly healthy, not pregnant or breastfeeding, you can try  intermittent fasting and see how your body reacts and feels. You know when it is good for you and when it is not. Keep an open mind and work with your individual needs.

 

Author: Aleksandra Cichuta, Well-Being Coach, Psychologist and Founder of INNER FIRE

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