Intermittent Fasting (IF) is currently one of the world's most popular health and fitness trends.
Besides assisting with weight loss, IF has many additional health benefits I will share in this article.
By definition, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves regular, short-term fasts — or periods of minimal or no food consumption. Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.
Here is the most common way IF is performed:
You start your eating at noon and your last meal at 8 pm.
You are technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.
The following are 8 evidence-based health benefits of intermittent fasting.
1: There is a significant positive impact on insulin levels and human growth hormone (HGH) levels. While IF has been found to decrease insulin levels, HGH will increase. This all facilitates fat burning. IF in turn has a positive impact on reversing insulin resistance. Studies indicate that fasting can help boost your HGH levels. One such study found that after a 3-day fast, your HGH levels increase by more than 300%. A week later, they go up by a whopping 1,250%.
2: IF has been found effective in helping you lose weight but even more important is losing visceral fat. Visceral fat is the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that causes disease. Short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate, helping you burn even more calories.
3: Several studies show that intermittent fasting may enhance the body's resistance to oxidative stress.
4: Intermittent fasting has been found to be effective in reducing inflammation. Mount Sinai researchers found that fasting reduces inflammation and improves chronic inflammatory diseases without affecting the immune system's response to acute infections
5: Intermittent fasting has been found to be beneficial for heart health. Lowering triglycerides, LDL and lowering blood pressure are just few of the cardiovascular benefits.
6: Promising evidence from animal studies indicates that intermittent fasting or diets that mimic fasting may help prevent cancer.
7: IF shows promise in improving brain health. There is strong evidence that forms of intermittent fasting can delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease in animal models. "In animal studies, intermittent fasting has been shown to increase longevity, improve cognitive function and reduce brain plaque as compared with animals fed a regular diet,” said Allan Anderson, MD, Director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Tucson.
8: One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan. In the one study researchers zeroed in on how fasting impacts life span. About 2,000 people who had undergone a cardiac catheterization procedure were followed for an average of 4.4 years, including 389 "routine fasters" who had been fasting regularly for at least five years. After adjusting for various factors, researchers discovered the routine fasters had a 45% lower mortality rate than the non-fasters during the follow-up period.
Besides intermittent fasting having value in weight-loss, its benefits extend beyond that. It can help you live a longer and all-around healthier life too, according to studies involving animals and humans.