6 Intermittent Fasting Benefits
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It’s easy to get caught up in the craze of new diet fads, but how often do they work? Intermittent fasting (IF) refers to eating only during specific times of the day or week and abstaining from food during the other periods. It’s become a popular health and fitness trend due to the numerous benefits that correspond with this pattern of eating.
Keep reading to learn six intermittent fasting benefits.
1. Lower Blood Pressure
Intermittent fasting can lower your blood pressure and prevent hypertension. It leads to the release of a chemical that will decrease the frequency of heart contractions.
Additionally, IF can reduce insulin levels and body fat, which are two factors that can cause high blood pressure. This diet can also limit the heart muscle’s growth or thickening, which is known as cardiac hypertrophy.
2. Lose Weight
IF is most effective when eating healthy, well-balanced meals and complementing the diet with physical exercise. Like most diets, if you eat a surplus of unhealthy foods within your mealtime hours, you will not see the added weight-loss benefits.
If you consume fewer calories because you are snacking less or eating less frequently, the results may be more apparent. Your insulin levels drop when you are not consuming food, which gives your body time to release stored glucose for energy. By using this energy, you are reducing the amount your body stores as fat.
You would need to repeat this process regularly to achieve weight-loss results.
3. Decrease Your Appetite
Another intermittent fasting benefit is a reduction in hunger cravings. Once your body adjusts to an IF schedule, your appetite will decrease. You will continue to be hungry during regular mealtimes, but will feel less inclined to eat or snack at night.
Studies have found that individuals who followed a daily-time restrictive IF routine felt full and had a decrease in the hunger hormone (ghrelin).
4. Reduce Insulin Levels
When you eat, your pancreas releases insulin into your body to turn glucose into energy. Therefore, when you implement intermittent fasting, you give your gastrointestinal system a break and decrease your insulin levels.
Long-term, IF improves insulin sensitivity and helps your body follow the natural circadian rhythm. That means you spend more time eating during the day instead of at night. Consuming food at night has associations with diabetes and a greater risk of obesity.
5. Increase Stress Resistance
Studies have found that intermittent fasting can increase your body’s cell, tissue and organ resistance to stress and diseases associated with aging and overindulgent lifestyles.
It can also make your brain and heart more resilient against stress. That means less tissue damage and improved functional outcomes after a stroke.
6. Lower Risk of Disease
In a clinical trial using mice, a diet that mimicked fasting showed decreased risk factors for cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. These results indicate IF could help improve your health and lifespan.
IF may be especially beneficial for reducing inflammation and improving conditions associated with inflammation. Examples include arthritis, Alzheimer’s and asthma.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are four popular types of IF that vary in popularity and sustainability.
- Daily time-restrictive fasting: Perhaps the easiest to maintain, this fast includes eating during an eight- to 10-hour period and abstaining from food for the other 14 to 16 hours of the day.
- 5:2 fasting: This form of the diet refers to eating normally for five days of the week and then fasting by eating under 500 calories for two non-consecutive days.
- Alternate-day fasting: As the name suggests, this style refers to eating regular meals one day and consuming fewer than 500 calories the following day. The cycle would repeat throughout the week.
- 24-hour fast: This style of IF is perhaps the most radical and unsustainable. It involves eating standard meals for 24 hours and then not eating anything for the following 24 hours. While this style applies to the start of a diet, it is not a healthy long-term solution.
If you are pregnant, have a health condition or have had an eating disorder, intermittent fasting may not be right for you. Talk to your doctor before trying IF on your own.
Count the Hours to a Healthier You
It’s clear that intermittent fasting benefits your body in more ways than one. As you lose weight, you can also lower your blood pressure, insulin levels and disease risk. Plus, with a reduced appetite, you will have an easier time sticking to a healthy weight and diet.
So, what are you waiting for? Make the change and enjoy a healthy lifestyle without starving yourself!