Intermittent Fasting Benefits

Intermittent fasting is an ingenious method of cycling between periods of eating and fasting. Many studies have demonstrated that intermittent fasting can result in a wide range of positive effects in both the body and the brain.
Let’s take an in depth look at intermittent fasting benefits.

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

  • Bring about changes in cells, hormones and genes

After not eating for an extended amount of time, several changes occur in the body.
This includes:

1. Human Growth Hormone: The levels of growth hormone can potentially increase by up to 5 times when fasting. Amongst many other benefits, elevated levels of growth hormone facilitate both muscle gain and fat burning.
2. Cellular Repair: The body brings about repair processes in the cells, such as the removal of waste materials.
3. Insulin Levels: The amount of insulin in the blood drops significantly during fasting, which helps to burn fat.

  • Can help you to burn fat and lose weight

One of the main intermittent fasting benefits is weight loss. In general, those who intermittent fast eat fewer meals. This means that you will eat fewer calories, providing you don’t overcompensate and eat a lot more during your other meals.
Through the changes in cells, hormones and genes discussed above, intermittent fasting can bring about an increase of 3.6-14% to your metabolic rate.
A review of scientific literature performed in 2014 [1] found that a weight loss of between 3-8% over 3-24 weeks is possible with intermittent fasting, which is a huge amount.
The review also showed that participants lost 4-7% of their waist circumference, indicating that they lost a lot of belly fat, which is one of the most dangerous types of fat, responsible for many diseases.
Another study conducted in 2011 [2], concluded that intermittent fasting was better for maintaining muscle mass than continuous calorie restriction diets.

  • Can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body

Oxidative stress is a damaging process which can lead to aging and other chronic diseases.
During oxidative stress, unstable molecules know as free radicals, react with other important molecules such as DNA and protein, which damages them.
Many studies [3] [4] have shown that the body’s resistance to oxidative stress can be enhanced by intermittent fasting.
Studies [4] have also shown, that intermittent fasting helps to fight inflammation in the body, which is responsible for many common diseases.

  • Induces a variety of cellular repair processes

During the fasting process, cells within the body begin a process of cellular “waste removal” known as autophagy.
Cells are broken down and dysfunctional and broken proteins which tend to build up in cells over time are metabolized.
Increased autophagy may help to protect against certain cancers and Alzheimers disease as well as numerous other diseases [5][6].

  • It’s good for your brain

Things that are good for the body, often tend to be good for the brain as well.
With intermittent fasting comes improved metabolic processes, which have been proven to be very important for brain health.
Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress and a lowering of blood sugar levels and insulin resistance are all attributed to fasting.
Another intermittent fasting benefit is the increase in levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) [7]. People deficient in this brain hormone are more likely to suffer from depression and other brain issues.
Finally, a number of studies performed on rats [7] [8] showed that intermittent fasting has the potential to increase the growth of new nerve cells, yet another benefit for brain function.

Armed with this knowledge on intermittent fasting benefits, do you think that you’ll incorporate it into your lifestyle?

References

[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193152441400200X
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21410865
[3] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095528630400261X
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17291990/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19524509
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23773064
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11220789
[8] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.0022-3042.2001.00747.x/abstract