Intermittent Fasting:

How It Works and Notable Health Benefits

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You’ve probably heard about the latest dietary trend — intermittent fasting (IF). But what does it mean, and how does it positively impact your health? We delve deep into these critical details in the subsequent lines.

Intermittent Fasting Defined

If you’ve noticed, most health tips focus on “what” foods you consume. However, intermittent fasting (IF) tows a distinct path as it dwells on when you eat.

So, what’s intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that requires you to switch between eating and fasting on a set schedule.

By engaging in intermittent fasting, you’d only need to eat for a specific period and fast for a set timeline. Besides intermittent fasting being revered for its fat-burning attributes, this practice poses other health benefits.


Intermittent Fasting Types

Several intermittent fasting variations exist to tally people’s health needs. Notable mentions include:

●     Time-Restricted Eating

It involves fasting for 12 hours or longer. You can use the remaining hours to consume meals. One typical example is the 16:8 alternative. When practiced, you’d need to fast for 16 hours and use the 8-hour window to ingest 2 to 3 meals.

●     Fast Diet or 5:2

The fast diet or 5:2 encourages two days of fasting weekly. However, it’s vital to note that calorie intake within these days must hover around 500 to 600 (women and men, respectively). You can follow your regular eating routine for the remaining 5 days.

●     24-Hour Fast

Here, you’ll fast for 24 hours after eating. For example, eating a sumptuous meal by 7 AM on Monday will see you fast till 7 AM the following day. You can practice this IF alternative once or twice per week.

●     36-Hour Fast

An extension of the 24-hour fast, the 36-hour fast requires fasting for 36 hours after eating a meal. So, if you ate a balanced breakfast on Monday morning, you’ll fast until it’s dinner time the following day. 36-hour intermittent fasts are recommended as they jumpstart ketosis. Due to its severity, it’ll be best to practice this IF alternative once weekly or monthly.

●     Alternate-Day Fasting

Also referred to as ADF, alternate-day fasting involves eating one day and fasting on the next. Although ADF might share some semblance to 24-hour fasting, people practicing it can take calorie-free liquids such as water, tea, and unsweetened coffee on fasting days. Those on a modified alternate-day fasting plan can eat solids reaching 500 calories while fasting.

●     Spontaneous Fasting

Spontaneous fasting is an intermittent fasting alternative geared towards people who are undecided about practicing IF. When practicing spontaneous fasting, you skip meals when you aren’t hungry or are too occupied.


4 Notable Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

1.   Weight Loss

Most individuals practice intermittent fasting due to its connections to effective weight loss. According to an article featured in the Canadian Family Physician (February 2020), intermittent fasting contributes to weight loss in overweight or obese individuals. Evaluating data from 27 different studies, researchers discovered that intermittent fasting played a role in helping participants lose 13% of their body weight.

Intermittent fasting helps you reduce your food intake. With the lower insulin amounts, high HGH levels, and increased norepinephrine stemming from IF, your body seamlessly breaks down fat and uses it to create energy.

2.   Lowers the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

In the United States, over 37 million Americans have diabetes. Of this number, 90 to 95% have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your cells are insulin-resistant, leading to increased blood glucose levels, also known as hyperglycemia.

Adopting health tips that can reduce insulin resistance will invariably reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Although numerous dietary approaches abound, intermittent fasting ranks as an effective way to lower blood glucose.

According to a study, intermittent fasting helps in reducing adiposity and associated insulin resistance via decreased calorie consumption and metabolic reprogramming. This report also states that lessened energy intake will facilitate an extended reduction in insulin production and increased AMPK levels, which are vital to improving insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis.

3.   Great for the Heart

Heart disease is the leading death cause in men, women, and children in the United States. According to multiple health reports, several markers can either decrease or increase an individual’s risk of heart disease.

Intermittent fasting (IF) comes in handy to improve notable risk factors associated with heart disease, including:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood triglycerides
  • Total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
  • Blood sugar levels
  • Inflammatory markers

NOTE: Sufficient human-based tests must be conducted before intermittent fasting is prescribed as a valid dietary option to prevent heart disease.

4.   Prevents Cancer

Irregular cellular growth prompts cancer. According to several studies, fasting has specific positive metabolism effects bound to reduce cancer risk.

According to a report considering six studies out of 307, intermittent fasting positively affected cancerous tumors. These evaluations claim that IF stalled the risks of certain cancers and reduced tissue lesions and inflammations.

Parting Shot

Intermittent fasting has become a popular weight-loss alternative in the last few years. However, it’s vital to note that IF poses other health benefits. Besides reducing your risks of certain life-threatening diseases by practicing intermittent fasting, IF will also help you lead a healthier and more active life.

Are you thinking of starting intermittent fasting? Several iterations are available. Just pick the alternative that suits your preferences and health requirements. Godspeed!