Are you trying to shed excess body fat? Intermittent fasting (IF) is a fantastic way to promote weight loss. If you’re looking to improve your heart health, lower your cholesterol, and sleep better at night, intermittent fasting can help!
Unlike crash diets which cause your weight to fluctuate, intermittent fasting is a lifestyle transformation that benefits your overall health and wellness. It can help you achieve a healthy weight.
1. Weight Loss
Initially, you might want to try intermittent fasting to lose weight. Intermittent fasting helps you balance your insulin levels and achieve a calorie deficit that makes losing weight easier. When you pair intermittent fasting with healthy eating habits, you can lose seven to 11 pounds in 10 weeks.
A review of 13 clinical trials showed the connection between intermittent fasting and shedding pounds. Researchers found that average weight loss ranged from 1.3% body weight loss in a two-week trial to a whopping 8% body weight loss in an eight-week trial. If you weigh 200 pounds, that equates to a loss of up to 16 pounds in two months.
2. Belly Fat Reduction
You must understand the difference between the number on your scale and fat loss. When you lose weight, you shed fluids, muscle, fat, and possibly even organ size. When you lose fat, you lose fat stored in your cells and retain your muscle mass. Luckily, fasting can help you shed visceral abdominal fat or belly fat.
Researchers measured a reduction in waist circumference and belly fat in a study of overweight individuals who adhered to a time-restricted fasting protocol. Shedding this type of fat leads to a visible difference in your appearance and is also beneficial for your heart’s health.
3. Better Night’s Sleep
The foods you eat, and when you eat them heavily influence your sleep cycles. This connection forms a link between intermittent fasting and sleep problems.
One study found early time-restricted feeding (TRF), a type of intermittent fasting, altered the participants’ circadian clock gene patterns. Participants woke feeling more refreshed after periodically fasting. These genes contribute to your circadian rhythm, which determines your sleep patterns. When you have healthy circadian rhythms, you’ll find it’s easier to fall asleep. If you’ve been battling insomnia or other sleep issues, IF might be a solution for you.
4. Increased Longevity
Benefits of extended fasting include healthier aging. By altering your meal times, you can potentially increase your lifespan.
Evidence gathered by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that intermittent fasting can trigger a metabolic switch from sugar-based energy to ketone-based energy. They report this switch increases your body’s resistance to metabolic stress, improves your cells’ health, and can decrease disease incidence. These benefits can help you live a healthier, longer life.
5. Maintain Muscle Mass
When you lose weight with traditional dieting, there is a possibility of losing muscle mass along with fat. However, a study at the University of Illinois discovered that IF might be more efficient at maintaining muscles than traditional calorie-restrictive diets.
During the study, they compared the weight loss potential of two groups of overweight and obese participants. One group followed a traditional, low-calorie diet; the other followed an intermittent fasting protocol. After 12 weeks, both parties lost fat mass, but the fasting group retained significantly more muscle mass. While dieting in many forms can promote weight loss, IF is far superior at helping you maintain your muscle mass.
6. Prevent Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
When your meals are rich in processed carbohydrates and sugar, your bloodstream gets flooded with glucose, causing the body to mass-produce insulin. As you eat, your insulin levels will continue to rise.
If your system is continuously producing insulin, your pancreas can fail to keep up, and the cells in your body can become resistant to insulin. When we choose to fast, we allow insulin levels to stabilize and fight against certain diseases such as metabolic disorders, obesity, and type 2 Diabetes.
If you already struggle to control your blood sugar, there’s evidence you can use fasting as a tool to reverse diabetes and reliance on insulin therapy. Another study showed IF is just as effective as traditional dieting at reversing disease and helping patients lose weight.
7. Reduce Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between your body’s antioxidants and free radicals, causing inflammation and damage to your body’s tissues, blood proteins, and DNA. Oxidative stress can cause neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases and accelerate aging.
Studies conducted by the University of Florida have found that IF can potentially strengthen the body’s protection against oxidative stress and decrease subsequent inflammation.
8. Lower High Blood Pressure
Intermittent fasting can drastically improve your daily life by improving your confidence, promoting longer life, and helping you stay healthier. Besides all of these fantastic benefits, IF creates beneficial changes deep in your cells.
Intermittent fasting can improve your blood pressure. In a 2018 study published by Nutrition and Healthy Aging, participants following the 16:8 protocol significantly lowered their systolic blood pressure.
9. Lower Cholesterol
IF can lower your cholesterol, too. The Intermountain Medical Center has found that after 10 to 12 hours of fasting, the body will use LDL (bad cholesterol) from fat cells for energy, ridding your body of this harmful fat. When repeated through periodic fasting, this process decreases total cholesterol in the body.
10. Improve Heart Health
Intermittent fasting and heart health go hand in hand. If you lower your fat and cholesterol levels, improve your blood pressure, and use insulin more efficiently, you can decrease your heart disease risk.
11. Lower Your Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and excess belly fat, and it’s the leading cause of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Intermittent fasting can lower your metabolic syndrome risk and decrease your chronic illness risk.
12. Increase in Cell Turnover
When you eat frequently, your body continually undergoes the rigorous food metabolizing process. Intermittent fasting gives you a break from digesting food so your body can rest and rid your body of damaged cells and eliminate toxic waste products.
A 2019 study found one benefit of extended fasting is an increase in specific proteins that encourage cell turnover, which gives your body a chance to eliminate toxins in the blood.
13. May Prevent Cancer
You may have heard intermittent fasting can reduce your cancer risk, which is an extensive research area. A review of studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows if you practice intermittent fasting, it may reduce your cancer risk by decreasing cancer cells’ spread, lymphoma development, and tumor survival. Though, further research is needed.
14. Improved Brain Health
Though metabolic features such as reduced blood sugar and oxidative stress are great for the heart, they’re also critical for your brain. By improving these metabolic features, intermittent fasting can boost brain health.
There is evidence that fasting can improve mental clarity and concentration. When you fast, your body breaks down stored fat to produce ketones as fuel sources. The use of ketones can create neural networks’ adaptations to improve their function and make them more resistant to stress, injury, and disease.
15. Improve Moods and Energy Levels
Incorporating fasting into your lifestyle can boost your mood and energy levels. A study of middle-aged men who participated in an intermittent fasting protocol for three months had significantly more vigor and less tension, anger, and confusion than the control group.
16. May Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Lastly, did you know there was a connection between intermittent fasting and Alzheimer’s disease? A piece published in Ageing Research Reviews found extended fasting can counteract age-related disorders, including neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. While the research is still in its infancy, improved brain health and increased cell turnover can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Experiencing the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
At first glance, you might assume intermittent fasting is strictly for weight loss. Fasting can be a great way to lose weight, but it’s essential to recognize the plethora of other health benefits you can obtain from incorporating IF into your life. When combined with healthy eating habits, fasting can improve your physical and mental health so you can live your best life.