Intermittent fasting is an eating schedule where you cycle between periods of fasting and eating. There are different types of intermittent fasting, the most popular option would be 8/16, meaning that you are eating for 8 hours while keep fasting for the remaining 16 hours during the day.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Help with weight loss
Most people adopt intermittent fasting to lose weight. In general, you tend to consume fewer total calories during the day when you are doing intermittent fasting compared with a normal eating pattern. As a result, this fewer calories intake can lead to weight loss. But more importantly, intermittent fasting will affect how the performance of our hormones. Yes, I am talking about insulin. Intermittent fasting would reduce insulin resistance, and this is the key to attaining weight loss.
In a nutshell, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3-14%. Your body will end up burning more calories by just adapting to this fasting pattern.
Studies showed people can achieve weight loss of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks. Which is actually quite significant by just changing the eating pattern.
Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Your Chance of having Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a common disease in developed countries. Tons of people have diabetes and suffer greatly from the complications.
In the body, we have this elegant system of regulating blood sugar, which involves hormones like insulin, glucagon and others.
In people with diabetes, the main clinical picture is high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and lead to significant reductions in blood sugar levels. In human studies, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 3-6%, while fasting insulin has been reduced by 20-31% (Adrienne R.Barnoskety et al.)
This 2018 study showed that intermittent fasting (indeed 6 hour feeding pattern) improved insulin sensitivity, β cell responsiveness and blood pressure (Elizabeth F.Sutton et al.). The most exciting part about this study is that the results are independent of the weight loss attributed to intermittent fasting. Meaning that intermittent fasting alone will provide better cardiometabolic factors itself!
This is a very nice diagram from the study explaining the health benefits of increasing insulin sensitivity, increasing pancreas beta cell function, reduction of blood pressure and reduction of oxidative stress.
Good for your brain
Intermittent fasting improves various metabolic features Such as reduced oxidative stress, reduced inflammation and reduction in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
These factors are important to keep your brain healthy.
Several studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting may speed up the growth of new nerve cells, which should convey benefits to the brain (Jaewon Lee).
Prolong your lifespan
Interestingly, fasting has been a proven scientific way to extend lifespan.
Studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan (Luigi Fontana).