Posted on November 24 2020
A diet strategy that involves alternating spells of extended fasting and eating pattern is called intermittent fasting. This means when you are fasting intermittently, you have low consumption of calories or no food at all. This time-restricted feeding is one of the most popular and most accessible fasting methods. Here is my experience from intermittent fasting:
This blog was written a while back and I have come a long way from competing to building my business today. However, I still continue to follow intermittent fasting and have seen health benefits beyond just weight loss. Lets discuss a few:
1) Minimises bloating and improves digestion:
If inflammatory foods such as dairy and meat cause digestive issues for you, then no better way to tackle this issue than fasting. Intermittent fasting helps people who have digestive problems because fasting curbs the need of your body to digest always. This step lessens the time your body needs to deal with symptoms of digestive distress. Giving your digestive track a rest for 10- 16 hour each day during your fast period is essential.
2) Heals your skin:
Intermittent fasting jumpstarts the process of skin healing. It does so helping the body detoxify. Furthermore, fasting will alleviate chronic urticaria and contact dermatitis. So if you have cuts and scrapes, then all of that will heal at a much faster rate. The miraculous thing about intermittent fasting is that it also fights acne. By the way, ahve you watched my journey from acne to no acne here:
3) Enhances performance:
For anyone who is apprehensive about taking up intermittent fasting, thinking that it will hamper your sports performance, this is far from true. This method of fasting has zero drastic effects on your physical performance or the way your body functions daily. At no point will you feel less vigilant or drowsy; instead, the process will preserve your lean body mass. There is some science that shows the positive effects of testosterone (important for muscle growth) due to intermittent fasting. Therefore, the body will maintain its muscles after a workout. Intermittent fasting has numerous cellular level effects that also help boost longevity. But for people struggling with metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, I would consider trying this form of training only under the guidance of an expert or read more on Jason Fung website.
4) Improves sleep
Insomnia is not uncommon, given the stress we have on a daily basis. But what if I said that intermittent fasting lets you sleep better? The digestive enzymes wind down, and you go into sleep mode. Having a sound sleep is one of the most positive advantages of intermittent fasting that a full stomach cannot give you. The best digestion happens when you are upright. If you sleep with a full stomach, then you can have heartburns or acid reflux during bedtime. These both together affect your sleep. Most people that resorted to intermittent fasting admitted that it improved their well-being and health. This method of fasting enhances your sleep quality and mental vitality with its cleansing effect of intermittent fasting on the body and brain.
If sleep is one of the lifestyle changes you cannot tackle, read this:
5) Protects against autoimmune diseases.
Several research animal studies have shown that fasting reversed multiple sclerosis symptoms. It is also common to use fasting and a plant- based diet as an important tool in cancer reversal. This alternative form of treatment to cancer has proven beneficial and practiced widely. It also improves and prevents systemic lupus symptoms. Checkout Dr. Alan Goldhamer from the TrueNorth Health Centre which is a residential centre dedicated to reversing diseases using fasting as a form of treatment. I must strongly emphasise here though for anything longer than fast for 16 hours (water only) must be done under the supervision of an expert.
6) Improves memory and learning.
One of the practical benefits of intermittent fasting is that it enhances memory. Several experiments done on rats delivered results where mice that fasted intermittently developed great memory. Moreover, some studies also suggest that you learn best when you are hungry because of the release of the gut hormone ghrelin. Gherlin is triggered as a sign of hunger and been associated with better memory.
7) Lowers cholesterol.
Alternate fasting helps to lower cholesterol levels, especially the LDL cholesterol that is responsible for heart stroke and diseases. As per the Centers for disease prevention and control, intermittent fasting also reduces triglycerides in your blood. This sure is a welcoming sign for people struggling with obesity and who have a genetic predisposition to heart diseases.
8) Slows down the onset of nerve cell diseases.
IF causes the ghrelin levels to rise. The ghrelin, in turn, increases the dopamine concentration in your brain area. The decline of the dopamine cells cause Parkinson's disease but intermittent fasting increases to a more enjoyable measure. This benefit indeed sounds like a great one from the list of IF's other impressive benefits. How? Short-term fasting or intermittent fasting increases healthy tissue generation. It also enhances the release of growth hormones that lead to multiple improvements in your body.
9) Reduces inflammation
Intermittent Fasting suppresses inflammation and helps with faster recovery. Intermittent fasting is known to prevent the risks associated with degenerative diseases connected to your central nervous system's inflammatory response. Athletes use this bio- hacking tool for faster recovery so they can get back to their training faster and well recovered.
10) Heightens motivation and mood
Do you desire to spend happier days? Well, there is nothing more you can ask for if given a choice. The studies related to IF have shown that calorie restriction and fasting improved overall mood, confusion, tension, and anger. Why? That is because higher ghrelin levels, which improve memory and proves to have antidepressant effects.
11) Prevents and protects against cancer
Some studies related to intermittent fasting have shown that alternate-day fasting reduces the risk of cancer. Intermittent fasting has shown a remarkable decrease in lymphoma development. It limits tumor survival by preventing cancer cells from spreading. There are several studies about water only fasting and cancer reversal including the one below:
12) Amplifies immunity of your gut.
Low immunity affects health and everyday life. That is because we fall sick frequently. A study revealed that IF lowered intestinal bacteria like salmonella, thus boosting the immune system of your intestine. Gut health is of the utmost importance when it comes to overall wellbeing. Your skin health, hair growth and overall mood depends on a healthy gut.
13) Extended longevity.
Intermittent fasting has many exciting benefits, and one of them is extending the lifespan. Many studies done on rats show that continuous restriction of calories extends your lifespan. In most studies, the effects of IF have always been dramatic. Like in one of the study results, rats who did not fast died sooner, but the ones who did live eighty-three percent longer. This benefit though is credited to restriction of calories more than fasting itself. However, most people who follow an IF window inevitably consume fewer calories.
14) Prevents Alzheimer’s.
In one of the studies done on rats, it was proven that IF might delay lessening the severity of Alzheimer's or the onset of the disease. An intervention on the lifestyle that involved short-term fasts daily significantly improved the symptoms of Alzheimer's in five patients out of nine. This happens due to the fact that when we are fasting, the body switches from using glycogen as a fuel source to using fat as a fuel source, resulting in the formation os something called ketones. Free flowing ketones in the system provide the neurons in the brain with energy needed to function better. Excess ketones though (like in a keto diet) are too toxic for the kidneys and will result in organ failure.
15) Improves brain health.
Intermittent Fasting enhances several metabolic features that improve the health of your brain. These features include reduction in inflammation, boosting insulin sensitivity, reducing oxidative stress and the development of new nerve cells that benefit brain functions. It increases the BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) whose deficiency causes depression.
16) Recycling damaged cells.
When you fast, the body cells begin a “waste removal” cellular process known as autophagy. This process involves the breakdown of 'week and old' cells and recycling dysfunctional and broken proteins within them. When the autophagy process increases, it presents protection against many diseases like Cancer.
17) Reduces oxidative stress.
Intermittent fasting lowers our body stress. It is this stress that causes aging and many other chronic diseases in your body. As per some studies, IF may improve the resistance of your body to oxidative stress besides demolishing the free radicals.
Though it is unclear on why this happens, there are a few theories. One of which says that the act of fasting itself causes low grade oxidation. This triggers the body to absorbing more anti- oxidants from the food we eat and prepare the body, thus, reducing oxidation overall.
18) Reduces insulin resistance.
IF reduces insulin resistance. And anything that brings down insulin resistance helps lower the levels of blood sugar. When studies were conducted on humans, results indicated that the blood sugar went down by three to six percent. Besides, the insulin levels in fasting also went down by twenty to thirty-one percent.
Another surprising part is that just by changing the timing of your IF window to consume most of your calories in the morning VS evening has a dramatic effect on your insulin level sensitivity. This is one of the lifestyle changes I highly suggest my clients to follow for weight loss. Here are a few more:
19) Helps to lose belly fat and weight.
Most people try Intermittent fasting only to lose weight. In general terms, intermittent fasting makes us eat few meals and enhances the functions of those hormones that make weight loss easier. On a personal note also, I no longer get 'hangry' anymore and have mood swings when I do not have my meals on time.
20) Manage blood pressure
Unhealthy blood pressure levels increase your risks for kidney disease, stroke, and heart diseases. IF may play a significant role in lowering the systolic BP.
Something to consider here though, extreme caloric restriction will lead to an imbalance of electrolytes and lack of micro- nutrients. These will have an unpleasant effect on your hormonal health.
The bottom line...
IF may not be for everybody. For me, the best thing about IF is that is saves time and is convenient to follow. There is a huge unexplored field of science called Psychodietetics. This field explores the benefits of food on emotional health. All of us associate food to emotions and with reason. If fasting is making you anxious and irritated, then don't do it. If starting your day with a cup of fruits or coffee will help you stay on track instead of fasting, then be it so.
You would rather eat breakfast (or dinner) and happily follow a healthy diet the rest of the day than fast and sob all day long. All of the above benefits can also be achieved by following a whole- food plant- based diet. Intermittent Fasting is one of the lifestyle changes to a healthier life, but certainly not the only one. Maybe try with skipping breakfast and then see how its going.
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