Written and Medically Reviewed by Babar Shahzad, DR on January 19, 2020.
Before the modern era, people fasted to cleanse their bodies of toxins and treat certain diseases. Today, we know that fasting has even more reported and demonstrated benefits.
Read on to find out the 8 benefits of intermittent fasting.
1. Helps to lose weight
This might be an obvious benefit, but it’s important to know about some of the less obvious reasons behind weight loss. Intermittent Fasting increases lipolysis (fat burning) in the body and changes hormone levels to facilitate weight loss.
By lowering insulin and increasing growth hormone levels, it also increases the release of the fat-burning hormone called norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Due to these hormonal changes, fasting increases your metabolic rate.
Studies show that people who practice Intermittent Fasting can expect to lose up to 7% of their waist circumference, which indicates a significant loss of harmful belly fat that builds up around internal organs and causes disease. What is more, fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and insulin levels by 20-31%. It reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, and blood sugar.
The other mechanism that makes fasting so effective for weight loss is the fact that it provokes the secretion of HGH—a fat-burning hormone that has many well-recognized “anti-aging” health and fitness benefits.
2. Slows down the aging process
Aging is a process that can’t be stopped, but changing the way we treat our bodies dramatically affects the way we age. According to research, dietary restrictions such as Intermittent Fasting can keep our mitochondrial networks in a “youthful state.”
The full mechanism of how it works would take a lot of scientific terms to explain but if simplified this means that the fasting process activates the life-extending mechanisms, creates space for new cells to grow, and literally rejuvenates our bodies.
3. Benefits your skin
Intermittent Fasting has helped numerous people who suffered from skin-related problems, such as acne. The secret is, when you give your body an extended break from its digestion routine, it kickstarts your body’s detox mechanism too.
Those who allow their body to adjust to this new digestion pattern claim to enjoy clear, glowing, healthy skin – an unexpected, long-lasting perk that comes with Intermittent Fasting. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?
4. Reduces inflammation
Inflammation is at the root of many health conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. It can also exacerbate symptoms of certain conditions you already have.
Summer is a particularly important time to seek for ways to reduce inflammation. Since we’re dealing with hotter temperature, sunburns, and dehydration it may make symptoms of chronic inflammation worse. Fasting controls the release of free radicals present in your body and protects you from inflammation.
Fasting for prolonged periods, coupled with ample water consumption, can help you eliminate inflammation issues entirely.
5. Improves your brain health
Fasting improves metabolic factors that are important to our brain health. This includes less oxidative stress and inflammation, as well as a drop in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
Eventually, it also increases the levels of brain-driven neurotrophic factors – a brain hormone that, when deficient, is directly linked to depression and other mental health issues.
Not only that, people who try intermittent fasting confess to be feeling more sharp-minded, focused and tend to be more productive at work.
6. Reduces risk of diabetes and heart disease
Generally explained, a higher-than-normal blood sugar level puts you at risk for developing diabetes and heart disease. Intermittent fasting (IF) helps to balance out blood sugar and insulin.
IF can reduce blood sugar by 3-6% and insulin levels by 21-30%. Some people who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can even use IF as a form of treatment (with the supervision of doctors, of course). Case studies have shown that intermittent fasting has helped people with type 2 diabetes to limit their insulin intake, dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improve insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure.
Some people started controlling their blood sugars so well with the food they eat, they stopped taking medication at all, although it’s not that easy to achieve.
7. Improves resistance to oxidative stress
A number of observations prove that intermittent fasting effectively reduces oxidative stress. Reducing it is extremely important as long-term oxidative stress eventually leads to the destruction of important molecules in the body through reactions with other unstable molecules, such as free radicals.
It also plays a role in the development of a range of conditions, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and can also accelerate the aging process. Click here to read more on what is oxidative stress is and how to prevent it.
8. Simplifies your life and saves money
Nowadays we’re always in a rush. When you eliminate the number of meals you eat in a day or week, you also find this amazing added benefit: meal preparation becomes much easier. During eating windows, you can simply eat your regular food and then drink water, tea, coffee, or bone broth while fasting. Easy!
Also, with other diets, you usually need to replace your daily food with expensive alternatives or fancy ingredients that are difficult to find. Fasting does not require replacing food. You are simply eliminating some of what you eat, and not replacing anything if you don’t want to.
Now that you know how beneficial intermittent fasting can be, we bet you’re excited to try it! Feel free to join the club of fasters.
Just take a quick QUIZ and get your personalized intermittent fasting plan!