Intermittent fasting has become the norm, many people do intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight and just feel healthier overall. Although it feels counter-intuitive if done properly it can help you to lose weight and bring lots of health benefits.
There are many different ways of fasting, generally it requires abstinence from all or some of the food or drinks for a set period of time. How long you choose to fast for is up to you, some people stop eating at 6pm and will eat again at lunch the next day giving themselves between 1pm – 6pm to eat food ie. 5 hours eating and 19 hours of fasting. This would effectively feel like skipping breakfast and an early dinner. Others choose shorter periods of abstinence and some may opt for alternate day fasting.
We discuss all the great benefits that come from fasting.
1. Weight Loss
This is the number one reason people usually fast. Providing you do not over consume food after your fasting period you should find that you have lost weight, even alternate day fasting has that effect because its the net calories in a week or year and the clock does not reset every day.
During your eating periods try to keep to healthy foods and don’t use it as an excuse to eat 5 chicken burgers just because you think you are ‘deserving’ of it.
Just be careful to keep things steady though, if you decide to do it for 6 months and abandon the habit you will find that you will end up putting the weight back on.
2. Controls blood sugar
An interesting thing about fasting is that your body starts to rely on fat rather than carbs for your energy consumption and this in turn means that your insulin production decreases.
Fasting can also reduce the insulin resistance which means that your body can become more sensitive to insulin and therefore more stable blood sugar and guess what less spikes and crashes.
Chronic inflammation can be extremely bad for you and is often linked to heart disease, arthiritis and diabetes. What is great about fasting is that it can help to lower the levels of inflammatory markers in your body and all you would need is one month of 12 hour fasts.
It will certainly be tough to start with but you may be amazed at how quickly your body will get used to fasting.
4. Lowers cholesterol
I am sure we all know by now that high cholesterol is bad for you, but what you may not know is that fasting can actually help reduce it which can help you fight against heart failures. Studies have actually indicated that those who fast routinely are 70% less likely to have heart failures than those that do.
5. Promotes brain function and make you more alert
Although it might be slightly early to know for certain there is a possibility that fasting can help fight Alzheimers and improve brain function. Anyone that has done it will know that actually you feel more alert and focussed when fasting. In fact you can actually even continue to exercise if you want.
6. Fights against depression
Feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and endogenous opioids can be released giving you an antidepressant effect. In fact calorie restrictions are a great way to stay happier, a study in 2008 found people with depression who reduced their daily calorie intake by 25 percent had fewer depressive symptoms over 6 months.
7. Reduce risk of cancer
Some animal studies suggest that it can reduce the risk of cancer although it might be too early to tell if this does work. Cancer is a complex area and there is continuous research to find out more and more about the illness including preventative measures.
With so many benefits of fasting, it seems its something that is definitely worth giving a go even if you do it once a week. Over the long term the benefits would definitely be worth it or you can do what some do, skip breakfast and have an early dinner which is more manageable. Just don't over consume your calories in the process.