What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that includes periods of time where you fast. These periods typically last between 16-24 hours and allow the body to enter a state of ketosis, leading to increased fat burning. The most common form of intermittent fasting is known as the 16/8 method. This involves fasting for 16 hours every day and eating for 8 hours during the day.
Another popular form of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet, which involves a 25% reduction in calorie intake for two days every week. This form of intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels in diabetics. The other forms of intermittent fasting are the alternate day diet, where you eat on alternating days; or twice a week, where you fast for at least 24 hours every week. We’ll talk about these in more detail shortly, but for now, let’s cover what Intermittent Fasting does to your body. One of the main health effects of intermittent fasting (IF) is called autophagy.
Autophagy, sometimes called the “clean-up process” and “self-eating process” is a type of cellular housekeeping where cells break down and recycle their own components. It is how our cells clean up after a day of work and ultimately produce energy for cellular repair. Autophagy is necessary to maintain health, balance the immune system, and prevent many diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting has been shown to lead to autophagy. Over time, most intermittent fasting diets have been modified to allow for a shorter period of feeding between the two eating periods. This allows people to restrict their calorie intake by 20-40%.
However, studies have shown that the health benefits of fasting remain regardless of which method one chooses to fast. Intermittent fasting doesn’t need to be used every day for it to be effective — just three times per week will suffice for most people. Some of the main health benefits associated with IF include weight loss, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and improved insulin sensitivity. These affect your brain and body, as well as the hormones that control them. Anything you put in your mouth affects your mental state just as much as it affects your physical state. This is why you’ll often hear from people who intermittently fast that they experience greater mental clarity, focus, and cognitive functioning in general.
What Types of Intermittent Fasting Exist?
There are actually numerous versions of IF, and each one has different weight loss benefits. To fully understand the weight loss benefits of intermittent fasting, we should look at all the different types of IF out there and how they work in your body.
There are many types of intermittent fasting. Some of the popular types include:
- Eating only during a specific time frame, like a 16-hour fast, where you eat only from noon to 8 pm
- Alternate day fasting, where you don’t eat any food on one day and then eat as much as you want on the next.
- The 5:2 diet, which is also known as the Fast Diet. It involves eating 500 calories for two days of the week and eating whatever you want on the other five days.
- The Warrior Diet, which is similar to intermittent fasting but with more restrictions and a higher calorie count.
Although each one will work differently for you, they typically share some common weight loss benefits which include:
- Increased metabolism
- Better control of appetite
- Improved mood
- Reduced risk for diabetes and obesity
How Does Intermittent Fasting Help Weight Loss?
IF promotes weight loss in many ways. But five, in particular, stand out.
Insulin sensitivity is the ability of cells to respond to insulin. It is also a measure of how well your body can use insulin to store and use glucose.
One of the main benefits of intermittent fasting is how it can help reduce insulin resistance and blood glucose levels. It does this by activating the body’s natural fat burning process and reducing the number of fat cells in the body.
The effects on insulin sensitivity are likely due to changes in hormones such as leptin, adiponectin, ghrelin and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have many health benefits, including increasing your metabolism. This is because intermittent fasting helps the body use fat for energy instead of glucose, which can lead to weight loss and improved health.
Intermittent fasting can also reduce inflammation in the body and increase resistance to disease as well as improve brain function. Speaking of which…
Inflammatory proteins are a key player in the development of chronic diseases. They cause inflammation that triggers a number of undesirable outcomes such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Some studies have shown that intermittent fasting has been able to reduce inflammatory proteins in the body. Fasting for 24 hours once a week can also help with weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity as a knock-on effect of it reducing inflammation.
Intermittent fasting also reduces inflammation in the body by reducing levels of pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines. In addition, fasting lowers levels of C-reactive protein, which is an inflammatory marker that indicates risk for heart disease
Hunger is one of the most common problems people face when they start intermittent fasting. Some experts suggest that intermittent fasting can help with hunger because it curbs cravings for sugar and carbs and because it makes you less likely to overeat.
It seems that hunger is more common with some types of intermittent fasting like alternate day fasting, which lets your body have a day of rest and then turn the next day into an “eating” day without any restrictions. But once you get used to any version of intermittent fasting, your overall appetite and hunger should decrease.
After intermittent fasting, you might feel less hungry and have fewer cravings for sugar, but you might also experience some other side effects such as fatigue and headaches. These are usually mild and stop happening once you get into the routine of IF.
Thermogenesis is the production of heat by the body, which in turn increases calorie burn. Intermittent fasting can increase thermogenesis.
One of the ways that intermittent fasting increases thermogenesis is through the increase in the number of mitochondria. Mitochondria are responsible for generating ATP, which is necessary for energy production.
Ryter’s findings show that intermittent fasting may increase mitochondrial density by 40% and mitochondrial biogenesis by 75%. This means that intermittent fasting can lead to an increase in the number of mitochondria, which can lead to a greater amount of energy production.
Who Should Not do Intermittent Fasting?
While IF can be beneficial, it’s not for everyone. People with adrenal fatigue and/or weak adrenal glands should avoid intermittent fasting. The reason is that IF puts stress on the body (especially prolonged fasts, longer than 1 day). If you already suffer from chronic fatigue and other symptoms common with adrenal strain, you should avoid IF in order not to aggravate your issue.
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