Despite its recent use as a weight-loss tool, fasting or intermittent fasting has prevailed for ages among many religions and cultures for its potent health benefits.
In Intermittent fasting, you take scheduled meals and alternate between periods of feasting and fasting. There are several intermittent fasting patterns, including alternate-day fasting, 5:2 fasting, periodic fasting, and restricted feeding.
Several trials have been conducted and have divulged significant health benefits of intermittent fasting. Here are seven scientifically-proven advantages of intermittent fasting.
1. Reduced Weight and Belly Fat
Weight loss and belly fat reduction are the most blown out benefits of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting reduces your calorie intake by making you eat a lot less than usual. It also lets you burn more calories by increasing your cellular metabolism by 3.5 – 14%.
By reducing calorie intake on the one hand, and increasing calorie burnout (fat breakdown), on the other hand, it works as a dual mechanism for enhanced weight reduction.
2. Improved Cell Function & Repair
By not having any meal for a time, you signal your body to initiate specific changes in it. Changes happen at gene levels and hormones level, optimizing the cell function and cell repair in your body.
Fasting will turn on particular genes for improved immunity and protection against diseases, delayed aging, and increased longevity.
Moreover, reduced insulin levels and 5-fold increased growth hormone levels promote fat breakdown in your body.
3. Improved Brain Health
Fasting (IF) has also proven benefits for brain health. Research has shown IF to induce the generation and growth of new nerve cells in the brain. Besides reduced oxidative stress and inflammation, it also enhances the production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which helps prevent depression.
Some animal trials have shown IF to be protective against brain damage caused by strokes.
Other research shows that IF can significantly delay Alzheimer’s disease and improve its symptoms once developed.
4. Reduced Risk Of Diabetes
Reduced meals during intermittent fasting shift the energy metabolism from carbohydrates to fat. It increases sensitivity and decreases resistance to insulin leading to well-regulated blood sugar levels. All these effects, cumulatively, reduce the risk of diabetes mellitus.
Research has shown a 6% drop in blood sugar levels and a 30% drop in blood insulin levels after a 12-week program of intermittent fasting. Moreover, it also reduces the severity of complications of diabetes.
5. Improved Heart Health
Intermittent fasting is also beneficial for your heart health. It diminishes various risk factors leading to heart disease. Multiple animal studies have shown a decrease in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammation, and blood pressure following a 12-week intermittent fasting program.
However, a lot more research on the human heart is needed to establish the fact.
6. Cancer Prevention
Intermittent fasting induces specific changes in your metabolism, which may reduce the risk of cancer development in your body.
Several animal trials have shown that fasting prevents some cancers. But human studies are required to establish the fact. However, fasting has been shown to produce the side effects of chemotherapy in humans.
7. Increased Life Expectancy
By improving the metabolism and other health benefits, intermittent fasting is no surprise to increase life expectancy. One research on rats showed rats who fasted lived 83% longer than the rats who did not fast. However, it needs a human-oriented analysis of the fact to establish fasting as an anti-aging tool.
Intermittent fasting is well-known for its weight loss benefits. But, it has a lot more benefits for your brain and body health. It promotes cell repair, heart health, brain health and increases life expectancy. It also prevents diabetes and cancer development.
For weight loss there are few other alternative diet plan people follow:
Sometimes it’s very confusing which one to follow. Please read our article Keto Vs. Paleo Diet to understand the differences.