8 Science-Based Ways Intermittent Fasting Benefits Your Health
Yes, many people swear by intermittent fasting, but does science back this up? Yes, it does! As if we needed any more reasons to love this method of eating.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Just in case you haven’t heard of intermittent fasting, let’s look at a quick breakdown of what it is. Intermittent fasting involves eating within a certain period of time.
Basically, you have a set window of time where you eat and a window of time where you fast. Eating this way allows your body to focus on digestion and can have a positive effect on your insulin levels and fat-burning ability.
While there are many different methods — the 16/8 and the 5:2 for example — numerous studies suggest that any of these tactics can trigger powerful health benefits.
8 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
With its rapid increase in popularity, some may wonder if intermittent fasting is just a trend with zero science to back it up. Not the case! Here we will take a look at 8 science-based health benefits of intermittent fasting.
1. Intermittent Fasting Affects How Your Hormones, Genes, and Cells Function
When you go without food for a while, several changes occur in your body.
Put in basic terms, key cellular repair processes and hormonal changes occur that help make stored body fat more accessible.
If you are looking for a more in-depth response, here is a better look at the changes your body undergoes during fasting:
- Human Growth Hormone (Hgh): Blood levels of human growth hormone increase as much as 5-fold. Higher levels of Hgh help facilitate muscle gain, fat burn, and a variety of health benefits.
- Insulin levels: Insulin levels drop significantly, a key aspect of fat burning.
- Cellular repair: During fasting, the body initiates crucial cellular repair processes such as waste removal from cells.
- Gene expression: Several molecules and genes related to disease protection and longevity undergo beneficial changes during periods of fasting.
2. Intermittent Fasting Lose Belly Fat and Drop Pounds
Many people are drawn to intermittent fasting due to all the individuals who swear by it. There are countless stories of people dropping 20, 30, 40, 50, or even more pounds through intermittent fasting.
Generally speaking, intermittent fasting can help you drop pounds since you are eating fewer meals. Unless you consume additional food during your other meals, you will take in fewer calories than usual.
Additionally, the hormonal changes mentioned above help promote weight loss. Lower insulin levels, higher levels of human growth hormone, and higher amounts of norepinephrine can all help encourage the breakdown of body fat.
Because of these changes, short-term fasting can actually improve your metabolism by up to 14 percent! A higher metabolism equates to more calories burned and more weight lost.
Between the reduced amount of calories you consume and the boost in metabolism, intermittent fasting works twice as hard.
According to a review of scientific literature from 2014, intermittent fasting can result in a weight loss of 3 to 8 percent in a period of 3 to 24 weeks. That is impressive!
The individuals studied also lost 4 to 7 percent of their waist circumference. This indicates a significant percentage of belly fat lost. Considering belly fat has been linked to a host of health issues, this is more than just a boost to appearance!
Another study also found that intermittent fasting resulted in less muscle tone lost than continuous calorie restriction. This is important as higher muscle tone burns more calories.
3. Intermittent Fasting Can Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has been getting diagnosed at an alarming rate in recent years.
Anything that helps reduce insulin resistant should help lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting has been proven to result in significant benefits in terms of insulin resistance and improved blood sugar levels. Studies show that individuals following an intermittent fasting routine reduced their fasting blood sugar by 3 to 6 percent and reducing fasting insulin by 20 to 31 percent. Major improvements!
A study in rats also found that intermittent fasting helped protect against kidney damage, one of the worst complications brought about by diabetes. This suggests that intermittent fasting may be protective against some of the damaging effects of type 2 diabetes.
However, these effects may differ among genders (it appears men see the most positive effects).
4. Intermittent Fasting May Reduce Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress refers to the damage caused to proteins and DNA by free radicals. It is related to many chronic diseases and the aging process.
Several studies indicate that intermittent fasting may improve the body’s ability to handle oxidative stress.
Additionally, studies have found that intermittent fasting can help reduce inflammation, a well-known risk for a variety of negative conditions.
5. Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Your Heart
Heart disease is currently the biggest killer in the world. Experts have pinpointed various risk factors that point to an increased chance of developing heart disease.
While more research on humans is needed, intermittent fasting has been found to improve some of these risk factors including:
- Blood sugar levels
- Inflammatory markers
- LDL cholesterol
- Blood triglycerides
- Blood pressure
6. Intermittent Fasting Induces Several Cellular Repair Processes
When we fast, a process known as autophagy — cellular waste removal — is initiated. Autophagy involves dysfunctional proteins getting broken down and metabolized.
7. Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Your Brain
If it is good for your body, that almost always means it is good for your brain too.
Intermittent fasting helps improve metabolic functions, reduce oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, improve blood sugar levels, and improve insulin resistant — all wonderful improvements for your brain!
Several studies completed using rats have shown an increase in new nerve cell growth, an improvement that should translate into brain support.
8. Intermittent Fasting May Extend Your Lifespan
Some experts even believe intermittent fasting may help extend lifespan.
Studies completed with rats have found that intermittent fasting extends lifespan similarly to continuous calorie restriction. Although further research in humans this is needed, intermittent has proved popular amongst the anti-aging crowd.
Given the known benefits surrounding metabolism and inflammation, it seems possible that intermittent fasting could play a role in a longer, healthier life.
To learn more about intermittent fasting, check out our Beginner’s Guide To Intermittent Fasting or reach out to us with any questions.
We have a passion for helping people realize that diets and restrictive eating programs are not sustainable for the long run (or any fun)! With intermittent fasting, you can enjoy satisfying, delicious shakes and snacks while fueling your body with nutrients, high-quality protein, and vitamins.
Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? We’d love to hear from you!