Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
1. Fasting has the ability to let our bodies burn about 30 percent of their own fat stores for energy. When we do not eat, our bodies use up stored glucose (glycogen) and then start burning any glycogen that is left as well as fatty acids from adipose tissue or fat tissue.
2. Intermittent fasting boosts the metabolism.
When we do not eat, our insulin levels go down and glucagon levels rise. This causes a metabolic switch from using glucose to using fat as fuel, which can result in weight loss. In addition, when we fast intermittently, it gives our digestive systems a break and decreases the amount of work that is required of the body. This can cause an increase in cellular autophagy which is extremely beneficial.
3. Fasting has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and blood sugar, improve insulin responses, and decrease inflammation markers (which are linked to many chronic diseases).
4. Intermittent fasting induces what is known as “autophagy.” Autophagy is the process of cells digesting old or dysfunctional proteins, which can lead to cellular rejuvenation.
5. Intermittent fasting has been linked to increased lifespan and improved memory in mice studies.
6. Fasting has been shown to be effective for the treatment of various diseases including epilepsy, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and neurodegenerative diseases.
7. Fasting has been shown to cause a decrease in blood pressure. Other studies have found that intermittent fasting causes a decrease in triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and an increase in HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol)
8. Another study found that intermittent fasting can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
9. A study from 2005 found that intermittent fasting can result in reduced levels of cortisol, an increase in growth hormone, and a decrease in insulin-like growth factors. In addition, it was observed that there were increases in the enzymes involved in repairing damage to DNA which decreases the risk of cancer. This is beneficial because many of the same illnesses and diseases that can be treated with intermittent fasting can also be caused by cancer.
10. Fasting has been found to increase levels of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) which is a stress hormone that enhances focus and concentration. It also increases levels of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that improve our mood and help with depression.
11. Intermittent fasting has been linked to a decrease in oxidative stress, which is theorized to be a cause of various chronic diseases including cancer.
12. Fasting has been found to increase levels of betatrophin, which is a protein that stimulates the production of pancreatic beta cells. This is beneficial because our beta cells are responsible for producing insulin which regulates blood sugar levels.
13. Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase levels of HGH, or human growth hormone, which is known to help decrease body fat and increase muscle mass. This can also lead to an improvement in one’s skin tone and overall appearance.
14. Fasting has been linked to an increase in autophagy, which is the process of cells cannibalizing old or dysfunctional organelles. This can help improve muscle tone and brain cell function.
15. Intermittent fasting can significantly decrease visceral fat, which is body fat that accumulates around our internal organs. Research has found that it can also result in a decrease in the number of white blood cells present, which may cause a decrease in viral infections.
16. One study found that intermittent fasting can help protect against brain damage and neurodegeneration. It was observed that mice who fasted for 16 hours per day were healthier than those who did not fast. When they were put in stressful situations, less brain damage was observed in the fasting mice than in the control group.
17. Intermittent fasting has been shown to help fight cancer because it can lower oxidative stress and inflammation while increasing immune function. It also increases levels of norepinephrine which is known for its tumor-killing properties. Studies have found that intermittent fasting can result in improved survival rates for those who have cancer.
18. Intermittent fasting has been found to increase levels of NRF-2 which is a protein that helps cells respond to oxidative stress. This protein also stimulates the production of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and prevent cellular damage from occurring due to environmental factors such as UV radiation and pollution.
19. Intermittent fasting has been linked to decreased levels of ghrelin, which is known as the “hunger hormone” because it stimulates hunger in humans. This means that intermittent fasting can help those who want to lose weight by reducing food cravings.
20. Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase levels of HGH, or human growth hormone, which is known to help decrease body fat and increase muscle mass. This can also lead to an improvement in one’s skin tone and overall appearance.
21. Intermittent fasting has been found to improve memory. A study found that mice who fasted for 16 hours per day had better long-term memory than mice who did not fast. This may be because fasting increases levels of the protein BDNF which is known to help improve neuroplasticity and neuron function.
22. One study found that intermittent fasting can help protect against brain damage and neurodegeneration. It was observed that mice who fasted for 16 hours per day were healthier than those who did not fast. When they were put in stressful situations, less brain damage was observed in the fasting mice than in the control group.
23. Intermittent fasting has been shown to decrease inflammation, which is theorized to be a cause of chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer. It also reduces levels of proinflammatory cytokines which are known to increase insulin resistance and negatively impact other parts of the body such as joints.
24. There is evidence that intermittent fasting can also help protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic illnesses. This may be because it helps decrease oxidative stress and inflammation while increasing immune function.
25. Intermittent fasting can help improve brain cell function and repair by increasing levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. This protein stimulates the growth and development of neurons in the brain which can lead to improved learning, memory, and mood.
Intermittent fasting results:
Increased energy levels
Decreased belly fat and decreased waist circumference
Lower blood pressure levels
Increase in HDL cholesterol
Higher sex drive (libido enhancement) Improved insulin sensitivity, leading to better blood sugar control. More efficient digestion and better bowel function Reduced inflammation, which is the root cause of many chronic diseases. More restful sleep and less insomnia
Increase in brain function and cognition (this one is interesting) I talk about this on my blog here: How Intermittent Fasting Boosts Your Brain. Possibly reduced risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease due to improved cellular and mitochondrial function and reduced inflammation. Improved strength and muscle gain due to higher activity of anabolic hormones like growth hormone and testosterone.
Decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke (the opposite happens on a high sugar diet)
The best part about all these health benefits is that they are not exclusive to fasting.
You can get the same results from eating less frequently, but without the added complication of having to time your meals around an eating window. The potential benefits of intermittent fasting seem to be contingent upon 1) the length of the fast and 2) how often you repeat the fast.
Longer, more intense fasting schedules are associated with more benefits than shorter ones – this is why water fasting and ‘starvation’ diets don’t produce much in the way of health benefits – they just aren’t sustainable long enough to elicit any significant change.
However intermittent fasting that only lasts a few hours at a time still has benefits, like increased insulin sensitivity and growth hormone secretion.
It really comes down to balance. You want to be fasting long enough (and eating or abstaining from eating often enough) that you can reap the rewards of intermittent fasting without going overboard and putting yourself in a situation where you’re malnourished or constantly craving food.
As with anything, you still need to make sure your meals and calories align with your goals (fat loss, muscle gain, or maintenance).
The key thing to remember about fasting is that the real magic is in how it makes you feel. A low-calorie day usually leaves me feeling tired and hungry – as I’d rather be anywhere but where I am.
Fasting, on the other hand, feels like a nice break from reality. I’m not hungry and I don’t feel obligated to eat until my eating window begins again…which means that for once I can be productive with my time instead of sitting around waiting for lunchtime (or whatever time).