Intermittent fasting is one of the new health and fitness buzz words these days. It’s a dietary plan that involves timing your meals and sticking to a schedule of when you should eat.
Essentially, the program divides your day into two categories: fasting and eating. There are many methods of doing intermittent fasting, but the premise is that you choose the period when you’re allowed to eat and abstain from food outside of those times.
Fasting has always been a part of human life. While you’re sleeping, you’re already staying away from food. For some, the practice is one of their religious obligations.
If you’re interested in starting this habit, you should research the things that you can expect during the process. You can read more about the stages of intermittent fasting here.
Meanwhile, these are the benefits of doing intermittent fasting, with scientific facts to support them:
1. Lowers Insulin Level
One of the primary reasons why intermittent fasting is effective for losing weight is that it helps the body regulate its insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that helps with metabolism. It also plays a significant role in the amount of glucose in the blood.
Insulin resistance happens when your body doesn’t respond appropriately to the self-produced hormone. Going through frequent insulin spikes can lead to this health problem.
A possible scenario for insulin spikes would be starving yourself for hours and succumbing to your cravings, which leads to overeating. What happens in your body during that period of starvation is that its insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance decreases.
However, when you stuff yourself with food unexpectedly, your body then produces loads of the hormone to facilitate metabolism. Then, you’re left with lots of insulin that create an imbalance in your glucose levels. This results in insulin resistance, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
Sticking to a schedule means that you train your body to anticipate when it’ll be receiving food. By allowing your body to have a mealtime routine, you help your body regulate its insulin production and absorption. An added bonus would be fat loss and boosted confidence.
2. Increase Growth Hormone Levels
Somatotropin is the human growth hormone that stimulates cell reproduction and regeneration. It also plays a role in the fat-burning process as well as muscle gain.
One study found that fasting boosts the secretion of this growth hormone, which aids in metabolism. Doing intermittent fasting and ensuring that you consume lean meat during your eating period can help you gain body mass, if that’s your fitness goal.
Here are the top intermittent fasting styles that you may want to consider:
- 16/8 Method – This method is the most associated with intermittent fasting. It involves planning your day in that you fast for 16 hours and allow yourself an 8-hour window for eating. There are no restrictions on what you eat. You only need to follow the schedule.
- 5:2 Plan – This one entails restricting your caloric intake twice a week, while eating normally for the other days. For the fasting period, women are recommended to consume only 500 calories, while the maximum is 600 calories for men.
- Eat-Stop-Eat Diet – It’s similar to the 5:2 plan except you go on a total 24-hour fast twice a week, while still eating normally on other days.
3. Boost Heart Health
Intermittent fasting has also been found to improve cardiovascular health. According to research, the meal plan was effective in reducing resting heart rate and blood pressure.
Moreover, it also increased heart rate variability. The normal series of heartbeats isn’t even. It has variations every millisecond, which intermittent fasting promotes.
4. Reduce Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance in the number of antioxidants and free radicals in the body. In this study, researchers found a decrease in oxidative stress markers after participants went on a fast.
5. Decrease Cancer Risk
Obesity is a risk factor for various types of cancers, so it would make sense that losing weight would decrease the likelihood of acquiring this terminal illness. Moreover, restrictive diets have been found to delay the onset of tumors, which are indicators of cancer.
Intermittent fasting has been catapulted to popularity because of its simplicity and effectiveness. Multiple studies have already shown how the practice lowers insulin levels while increasing the production of somatotropin, a growth hormone.
One advantage of intermittent fasting is that it aids in boosting heart health and reducing oxidative stress. Moreover, its weight loss benefit can help reduce the likelihood of forming cancerous tumors.