How Intermittent Fasting Potentially Boosts Your Health

Intermittent fasting has become a popular technique to lose weight. It is a very old practice and that has many potential health benefits when done correctly.

When facing chronic illnesses, obesity, and other health issues, intermittent can yield amazing results.  

Traditional intermittent fasting

Fasting has been used as one of the oldest healing traditions for years. Every culture on earth practices it. Varied religious denominations fast for spiritual cleansing. Muslims fast during the Islam celebration of Ramadan. The Bahá’i followers fast in March. Christians fast during Lent. Buddhist monks and nuns observing the Vinaya Rules withhold food after the noon meal, while the lay Buddhist fast during intensive meditations. 

Cleansing the Body, Mind, and Soul

Regardless of the religion, fasting is known for it’s ability to help people overcome their demons (both spiritually and in health). Fasting can help clear the body and mind for a more hopeful future.

intermittent fasting
How many hours a day do you currently eat?

What is intermittent fasting?

“Intermittent fasting is enabling the body to have a prolonged period of rest without calorie intake,” according to Dr. Adam Perlman, an internist at the Duke Center for Integrated Medicine in Durham, NC. This period of rest can be a daily amount (usually 12-18 hours) or on certain days of the week. It all depends on your health and associated goals.

To Fast, or not to Fast?

Fasting can be negatively associated with “starvation” diets. However, it is not based on long term calorie restriction. Rather, it is simply based on a calculated schedule for when those calories will be eaten in an attempt to optimize body function.

Ever hear the saying that breakfast is the most the important meal of the day? The debate rages on for whether this is true. However, the trend of eating breakfast foods packed with sugar and preservatives is definitely not good for anyone’s health. If you are struggling with maintaining a healthy diet, intermittent fasting just might be for you!

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting brings a variety of health benefits when done properly. Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle that includes a cycle between withholding food for a specific period and eating. It does not specifically stop you from eating a specific type of food. Rather, the focus is placed on getting enough nutrient dense foods within your eating period.

When you are eating for fewer hours of the day, you will probably start paying closer attention to your food choices.

1. An efficient way to weight loss.

Intermittent fasting is great for anyone attempting to lose excess fat. When you fast, your body is forced to abandon its dependence on glucose. When you eat, insulin rises to cope with the sugar entering your blood stream. However, when you fast, your body’s energy reserve (sugar in the cells) will drop and it will have to find a new source of energy: fat!  Without sugar, body fat will be broken down into fatty acids and used as a source of energy.

fat burning during intermittent fasting
Fewer sugar reserves in the body = fat burning potential!

2. Controls type 2 diabetes. 

Lifestyle changes and paying attention to your eating habits are important to properly manage Type 2 diabetes. A study proved that therapeutic fasting remarkably reversed patients’ insulin resistance, “resulting in cessation of insulin therapy while maintaining control of their blood sugars.” The Type 2 diabetic patients in the study also demonstrated a vital reduction in their body weight, waist circumference, and their glycated hemoglobin level.

With diabetes and obesity becomes a global crisis, the benefits of intermittent fasting are exciting.

3. Removal of damaged tissues from the body. 

Your body continually goes through a process known as autophagy, which means cellular “self-eating”. In this vital metabolic process, the body is recycling, cleaning, and removing cellular byproducts and any damaged. This cell regulation is key for minimizing risk of autoimmune disease, early aging, cancer, and other chronic issues. Plus, it optimizes your overall health and energy levels, allowing important cellular tissues to rest and rejuvenate.

Overeating has been linked to poor cellular adaptation and all the issues that come with it.

4. Improved cognitive function. 

Dr. Joseph Mercola, a Physician, reports that intermittent fasting enhances cognitive function by allowing the brain to use more fat for energy in place of glucose. These changes are proven to contribute to an improvement in a person’s cognitive function and resistance to stressful stimuli.

reduce sugar cravings with fasting
Kick those cravings.

5. Reduces food cravings.

When you fast, both your “hunger hormone” (Ghrelin) and “satiety hormone” (leptin) are affected (your Ghrelin lowers, while your leptin rises). What does this mean? When you have less ghrelin and more leptin you feel less hungry since your body’s dependence on glucose is considerably changed.

Cravings can be hard to beat, especially when they are a result of hormone imbalances or emotions.

How to do intermittent fasting.

There are a few types of intermittent fasting.

Whole day fasting.

While there are some extreme versions of this, the most popular is the 5:2 diet. In the 5:2 diet,  you eat normally for 5 days per week and then for 2 days you eat only 500 to 600 calories. To be clear, eating zero calories is never recommended unless supervised by a physician.

Time-restricted fasting.

This diet includes more of a daily routine in which you fast for a certain period, usually 16 hours (i.e. 7 pm to 11 am). This popular option is called the 16:8 method. For 8 hours of the day, you will eat as you normally would, filling your diet with nutrient dense whole foods when possible.

Keto, ketogenic diet, low carb, high good fat,  healthy food Premium Photo

Three important rules of intermittent fasting.

  • You can exercise while fasting but take it easy when first starting as your energy levels re-balance.
  • Check with your doctor for any medical advice regarding medications you are taking.

Intermittent fasting is not suitable for people with certain health conditions.

Talk to a trusted health professional first if you have any of the following:

  • Advanced diabetes
  • History of eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Chronic disease
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Stomach ulcers

It’s less of a diet than a lifestyle.

Proponents of intermittent fasting say it’s less of a diet and more a lifestyle. What makes intermittent fasting different from dieting is that you are regulating when you eat, not what you eat. Ultimately, this can help you set boundaries for health that are easier to follow.

Remember, limiting your dining window does not give you an excuse to binge eat, particularly on unhealthy foods.

I tried intermittent fasting for approximately 14 hours a day this summer and had great results. Surprisingly, I felt significantly less hungry, which really helped me with my ravenous sugar cravings.

Have you tried intermittent fasting before? I’d love to hear your questions, comments and concerns!

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