Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

619-05757728t.jpg Intermittent fastingIntermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. Hence the word intermittent and numerous studies show that it can have powerful benefits for your body and brain. Fasting is a commonplace practice throughout history and has been a spiritual tradition for thousands of years and today modern science has proven that fasting yields several health benefits…..
 It helps promote insulin sensitivity – Optimal insulin sensitivity is crucial for your health, as insulin resistance or poor insulin sensitivity contributes to nearly all chronic diseases especially diabetes.

 Normalizes ghrelin levels, ghrelin being your “hunger hormone”

 Increases the rate of HGH (human growth hormone) production, which has an important role in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process

 Lowers triglyceride levels

 Helps suppress inflammation and fight free radicals.

Typical fast time should range from 14 to 18 hours, and the longest you should ever abstain from food is 36 hours. You may also opt to delay eating and one way to do this is to skip breakfast and eat your lunch and dinner within a six to eight-hour time frame and stop eating three hours before you go to bed. Fasting will help your body adjust from burning carbs to burning fat. Eating on a six- to eight-hour window can take a few weeks and should be done gradually. Once your body has successfully shifted into fat burning mode, it will be easier for you to fast for as much as 18 hours and still feel satiated. Your craving for sugar will slowly dissipate and managing your weight will be easier.

It is not advisable to practice intermittent fasting if your daily diet is filled with processed foods. Addressing the quality of your diet is crucial before you venture into fasting. It’s critical to avoid the wrong calories, including refined carbohydrates, sugar/fructose, and grains. Within the six to eight hours that you do eat, you need to eliminate refined carbohydrates like pizza, bread, and potatoes. Fill your diet with vegetable carbohydrates, healthy protein, and healthy fats such as butter, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, and raw nuts.images.jpg Intermittent fasting

In addition, exercising in a fasted state can help counteract muscle aging and wasting, and boost fat-burning. There are many considerations to take note of when engaging in intermittent fasting. It is not a form of extreme calorie restriction but a practice that should make you feel good. If your fasting strategy is making your feel weak, you need to re-evaluate it. On the days that you work out while fasting, it’s best to consume a recovery meal—ideally consisting of fast-assimilating whey protein—30 minutes after your workout. Finding out what schedule works for you may take some trials and errors.

Intermittent fasting is not something you should carelessly undertake. Always pay close attention to your body and your energy levels. Individuals who are hypo-glycaemic, diabetic, or pregnant (and/or breastfeeding) should avoid any type of calorie restriction until your blood sugar or insulin levels are regulated.
When you don’t eat for a while, several things happen in your body. For example, your body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Here are some of the changes that occur in your body during fasting:
 Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning.

 The blood levels of growth hormone may increase as much as 5-fold. Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, and have numerous other benefits.

 The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells. There are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease.

Type 2 diabetes has become incredibly common in recent decades. Its main feature is high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance. Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels, thus lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes. In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 3-6%, while fasting insulin has been reduced by 20-31%. One study in diabetic rats also showed that intermittent fasting protected against kidney damage, one of the most severe complications of diabetes.619-03794170t.jpg Dieting

Oxidative stress is one of the steps towards aging and many chronic diseases. It involves unstable molecules called free radicals, which react with other important molecules like protein and DNA and damage them. Several studies show that intermittent fasting may enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress. Additionally, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, another key driver of all sorts of common diseases. Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve numerous different risk factors, including blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels.

When we fast, the cells in the body initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy. This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time. Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Fasting has been shown to have several beneficial effects on metabolism that may lead to reduced risk of cancer. Although human studies are needed, promising evidence from animal studies indicates that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer. There is also some evidence on human cancer patients, showing that fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy.619-05757741t.jpg Dieting

What is good for the body is often good for the brain as well. Intermittent fasting improves various metabolic features known to be important for brain health. This includes reduced oxidative stress, reduced inflammation and a reduction in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Several studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting may increase the growth of new nerve cells, which should have benefits for brain function. Animal studies have also shown that intermittent fasting protects against brain damage due to strokes.

Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common neurodegenerative diseases and since there is no known medical cure available preventing it from showing up in the first place is critical. A study in rats shows that intermittent fasting may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or reduce its severity. In a series of case reports, a lifestyle intervention that included daily short-term fasts was able to significantly improve Alzheimer’s symptoms in 9 out of 10 patients. Animal studies also suggest that fasting may protect against other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.

One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan. Studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan in a similar way as continuous calorie restriction. In some of these studies, the effects were quite dramatic. In one of them, rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who weren’t fasted. Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.

Complete fasting is when you consume nothing but water for 24 hours, midnight to midnight, at regularly recurring intervals. This kind of calorie restriction has well-documented health benefits, including life extension, but the compliance rate for this kind of program is low. It’s just too severe for the vast majority of people. Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of fasting schedules, including the 5:2 approach which involves eating normally for five days and fasting for two. As a general rule however, intermittent fasting involves cutting calories in whole or in part, either a couple of days a week, every other day, or even daily. Research shows that alternate-day fasting, where you consume about 500 calories on fasting days and can eat whatever you want on non-fasting days, works equally well for weight loss as complete fasting, and it’s a lot easier to maintain this type of modified fasting regimen.article-0-1A83EED3000005DC-883_634x376.jpg Calorie counting

The main problem relates to compliance. If you’re truly eating just 500 calories in a day, you will lose weight but when eating tiny amounts of food multiple times a day (grazing), you’re far more inclined to want more, so the cheat rate dramatically increases.
Alternate-day fasting is very much in alignment with the Paleo lifestyle that seeks to replicate the behaviours of our ancient ancestors to optimize health. In our ancient past, people did not have access to food around the clock. They would go through periods of feast and famine, which modern research shows actually has biochemical benefits.

The reason so many struggle with their weight (aside from eating processed foods that have been grossly altered from their natural state) is because they’re in continuous feast mode and rarely ever go without a meal. As a result, their bodies have adapted to burning sugar as its primary fuel, which down regulates the enzymes that utilize and burn stored fat. Fasting is an excellent way to “reboot” your metabolism so your body can start burning fat as its primary fuel, which will help you shed your unwanted fat stores. It takes about a week to 10 days or so to get used to intermittent fasting but after a week it becomes much easier.

You don’t have to keep on intermittently fasting forever if this is a lifestyle strategy that doesn’t appeal to you long-term. If you need to lose 50 pounds, you’re looking at about six months or so of intermittent fasting, after which you can revert back to eating more regularly, paying careful attention to your food choices. When you do eat, however, you should eat nutrient dense foods like avocado and coconut products which not only make you feel full but deliver health giving vitamins and minerals to your body, in addition to other benefits. Visit Blackhealth Archives for more articles.