There are a lot of diets and gimmicks on the market that help you lose weight. One pill advertised on television for weight loss also adds in its commercial that you have to follow the diet that comes with it to be successful, so it is more likely the diet, rather than the pill that works. All healthy ways to lose weight include eating whole foods that are well-balanced and contain fewer calories than you burn. How does intermittent fasting—IF— fit into the world of diets? It’s not a diet, but a way to time when you eat.
Intermittent fasting—IF— is not fasting like Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi was known for fasting days on end, IF isn’t like that. Instead of fasting for weeks at a time, most people use the form where they simply eat in a shorter window of time. For instance, they may fast for 16 hours and eat during the eight-hour window, such as from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some forms of intermittent fasting do include fasting a day or two a week, or simply eating light two days a week and normally the other days.
Fasting has a varied history.
Fasting has been used for religious reasons, weight loss, good health and even to prevent aging through the centuries. Hippocrates, who lived from 460 B.C. to 375 B.C., suggested people fast to improve their health when they were sick and believed fasting was the key to aiding the body heal itself. Fasting has been used to treat a variety of ailments, which includes epilepsy. In the 1940s, animal studies showed that fasting may even slow aging and the occasional fast might actually help the body function better.
Intermittent fasting may improve the autophagy of the body.
What is autophagy? It’s the body’s self-cleaning, getting rid of damaged cells and preparing those old cells for recycling. Autophagy slows as people age, which can lead to conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s. The best conditions for autophagy are when insulin levels are low, like during IF. The process slows aging and returns the body to its previous youthful cell regeneration. It also boosts metabolism. The higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn. IF also increases the hormone BDNF that aids in reducing inflammation.
- Intermittent fasting tends to work due to the shorter period of food consumption. The eating schedule also reduces late night snacking, where higher calorie foods are often consumed.
- Some people should not use intermittent fasting, such as people on medication taken with food, those who are pregnant or lactating, impaired immune systems, digestive issues or diabetes, unless under doctor supervision. Always check with your health care professional first.
- You need to consume a healthy diet to get the most from IF. That boosts nutrient intake, while also reducing calories. One study showed IF produced Beta-hydroxybutyrate molecules causing vascular aging to be reversed.
- IF has been shown to boost fat loss by approximately 7% and weight loss by 8%. It’s also been shown to reduce insulin resistance, which helps weight loss.
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