Intermittent Fasting...Is it Right for You?
Intermittent Fasting- Is it Right for You?
Researchers are continuing to find more and more benefits of the phenomenon called “Intermittent Fasting” (IF). However, before we dive into the benefits of IF, let’s first explain it.
Intermittent fasting—periods of voluntary abstinence from food and drink—is a broad term that can be applied to many different practices. This type of dieting has spurred many books and has received a lot of attention as of late as studies (mostly in animals) have shown that it may reduce the risk for several diseases. The most popular approach is the 16/8, which requires fasting for 16 hours a day. Another version, alternate day fasting (ADF) alternates 24-hour periods of fasting (or very restricted 500 calorie diets) with days of eating freely. The 5:2 approach limits fasting to just two days a week while the Warrior Diet follows a 20-hour fast with one large meal consumed at night. "Part of the confusion with IF lies in the lack of a definition," says Robin Foroutan, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "To some people IF means that they fast every day while to others it means they only eat between 11 and 6."
Here are a list of (some) benefits:
- Changes The Function of Cells, Genes and Hormones
When you fast, insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases. Your cells also initiate important cellular repair processes and change which genes they express.
- Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat
Intermittent fasting helps you eat fewer calories, while boosting metabolism slightly. It is a very effective tool to lose weight and belly fat.
- Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels, at least in men.
- Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in The Body
Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. This should have benefits against aging and development of numerous diseases.
- Intermittent Fasting May be Beneficial For Heart Health
Studies show that intermittent fasting can improve numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers.
- Intermittent Fasting Induces Various Cellular Repair Processes
Fasting triggers a metabolic pathway called autophagy, which removes waste material from cells.
- Intermittent Fasting May Help Prevent Cancer
Intermittent fasting has been shown to help prevent cancer in animal studies. One paper in humans showed that it can reduce side effects caused by chemotherapy.
- Intermittent Fasting is Good For Your Brain
Intermittent fasting may have important benefits for brain health. It may increase growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage.
- Intermittent Fasting May Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
Studies in animals suggest that intermittent fasting may be protective against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease.
- Intermittent Fasting May Extend Your Lifespan, Helping You Live Longer
Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers due to caloric restriction, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.
In terms of overall health, it seems as though we should all practice IF in some way, shape, or form. The key is people need to decide how they are going to apply this technique in relation to his/her particular schedules (work, working out, etc.).
Attached are 2 beginner’s guides to help decide how to apply IF to your life and schedule:
- John Hornung, MS, CSCS, SCCC