You’ve probably heard of intermittent fasting by now, but you still may be thinking ‘what actually is it, and what the hell is it all about?!’
Intermittent fasting is basically the name given to eating patterns in which you cycle between periods of eating and fasting, only consuming food during certain periods of the day.
This is a diet method which you can either adopt permanently (I know of many people who do) or you can implement it ‘intermittently’ (mind the pun) into your eating schedule.
I tend to do the latter. I eat ‘normally’ for most of the time, but sometimes I will implement fasting methods in order to boost my metabolism if I’m trying to lose fat. There are various different types of intermittent fasting and I’ll explain which one I utilise at the end of the article.
Many people wonder if intermittent fasting is healthy or safe, and I can assure you that it’s both.
Our bodies are pretty much the same as they were 200,000 years ago. Do you think we sat down every morning and ate waffles and cereal back in those days? Of course not.
We would sometimes go days without food and then when we got lucky and found an animal, we’d have a huge meal or several huge meals. Then we wouldn’t eat again until the next time we found food.
Now I’m not saying you should go days and days without eating – we now have food at our fingertips so that would be silly.
However, our bodies are designed to endure long periods of fasting than just ‘overnight’, which is what we’ve become accustomed to.
Intermittent fasting, when done correctly, can have numerous health benefits for both your body and your brain. And this is exactly what I’ll be explaining in this article.
Intermittent Fasting is Great For Losing Body Fat
Let’s start with the big one, shall we?
There are various different reasons people may fast, such as religion etc, but the majority of people do it in order to lose weight.
Intermittent fasting will probably lead to you eating fewer meals and less food overall, so unless you compensate for this by eating massive amounts of food during your other meals, you’ll probably be consuming fewer calories.
Intermittent fasting also leads to lower insulin levels and higher growth hormone levels, which can actually increase the breakdown of body fat and increase your metabolic rate by up to 14%!
A 2014 study determined that intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of up to 8% of one’s total body weight in less than a 24-week period, which I found incredibly impressive.
It’s also been suggested that intermittent fasting causes less muscle wastage than a normal calorie-restricted diet.
The fact is that it’s great for weight loss because it helps your body burn more calories and helps you actually consume fewer calories, leading to awesome results!
Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. Think about when you get a splinter in your finger. That particular area of your finger will go all red and ‘inflamed’. This is your immune system rushing to help the area and make sure that you don’t get any infections and things like that.
However, imagine if you kept stabbing yourself in that same spot with splinters every day… the inflammation would never go down because that part of your body would never repair and recover!
This is what people are talking about when they mentioned ‘inflammation’ in the bad context. Inflammation doesn’t just affect external things such as cuts and grazes… it can also affect internal parts of the body, such as your gut when you eat a meal that your body doesn’t agree with.
The inflammatory process isn’t necessarily confined to a particular tissue, it’s actually a process which involves the lining of blood vessels and different organs and systems within the body. These processes can then lead to free radical activity and the development of numerous diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
You may not even be aware of this damage because many of our internal organs don’t actually have pain sensors!
The point is, intermittent fasting is a great way to reduce inflammation within the body, leading to much better overall performance and a greatly reduced chance of developing a ton of different health issues.
Intermittent Fasting is Beneficial For Heart Health
Heart disease kills more people than any other disease in the world!
There are various different things which indicate an increased risk (or decreased risk) of heart disease, such as blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels.
Much of this is based on studies performed on animals but the results were positive. Intermittent fasting improved all of these factors!
Intermittent Fasting is Good For Your Brain
This is one of the things I love about intermittent fasting – it’s SO good for your brain health. My mind feels so calm and clear when I’m in a temporary fasted state.
This could be because it improves various different metabolic features which are important for overall brain health.
This includes reducing blood sugar levels, improving insulin resistance, and reducing oxidative stress.
Several studies in animals have shown that intermittent fasting can increase the growth of new nerve cells, which can have great benefits for brain function.
Studies have also proven that intermittent fasting can protect against brain damage from strokes.
Intermittent Fasting Improves Blood Sugar Levels
When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose (a form of sugar) in the bloodstream. This glucose is transported out of the bloodstream and into the muscle cells where it can be used as energy.
Insulin doesn’t work properly in people who have diabetes, which is why high blood sugar is such a major issue for those who have the condition.
However, it’s not just those who have diabetes that suffer from high blood sugar levels. When you eat too many sugary foods, your body releases a spike of insulin. If this spike becomes too regular (when you eat sugary foods every day), your body becomes insensitive to insulin.
This causes a similar problem to that of diabetics – your blood sugar becomes super high and you suffer from symptoms like fatigue, excessive thirst and the one we all dread… weight gain.
Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Live Longer
In animal studies, the effects of fasting on lifespan have been quite shocking – in a good way.
One study showed that rats who fasted every other day lived 83% longer than the ones who didn’t!
This isn’t yet been proven in humans, however, intermittent fasting has become extremely popular among those interested in anti-ageing.
Taking the known benefits into consideration when it comes to health markers and metabolism, it makes perfect sense that intermittent fasting could help you live longer.
What is The Best Method Of Intermittent Fasting For Me?
Like I mentioned earlier, there are many types of intermittent fasting which can fit your lifestyle. The best way to go about it is to figure out which is best for you.
You can read more about the different types of fasting here.
The type which I use and the type that I recommend most beginners use is the 16/8 fasting method, which is simply a form of time-restricted eating. This involves skipping breakfast and not snacking after dinner time so you’d eat all of your calories between, say, midday and 8pm.
I only do this for short periods of time, but it is perfectly healthy to actually adopt this eating pattern as part of your lifestyle. The beauty of it is that you don’t need to count your calories as much.
Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t need a deficit to lose weight, as you definitely do. However, it’s much easier to remain in a deficit when you have a smaller window in which to eat your meals. You’re technically fasting for 16 hours at a time.
In order to get maximum benefit from intermittent fasting, it’s important that you comprise your diet of healthy, whole foods which are full of goodness and nutritional value. If you’d like some examples of super-healthy weight loss meals, check out this article I wrote which offers you 15 delicious weight loss recipes which are all under 500 calories!
Also, I would recommend consulting with your physician before taking on any lifestyle or diet changes. If at any point during your diet you feel drowsy or nauseous, it’s probably a signal that you should have a snack. Always be careful to listen to your body.
We actually utilise short phases of intermittent fasting during our 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge. If you’re looking to lose weight as quickly as possible in a healthy manner, you should definitely check it out.
It’s a month-long weight loss program we’ve put together using the most effective weight loss methods (from both science and personal experience), specifically designed to help you shift between 10-20 pounds of body fat in 30 days – all for less than the price of ONE personal training session.
However – we don’t want somebody’s money if they’re not completely satisfied with the result. For this reason, we offer a 30-day money back guarantee to anybody who follows the program and doesn’t get the desired result. If you follow the program for 30 days and you haven’t lost more than 10 pounds, just drop us an email and we’ll be more than happy to offer you a full refund.
We’ve eliminated all the risk, so the only way you can possibly lose out is by not getting involved. Besides, you won’t want a refund when you see the kind of results it’ll bring you – trust me!
To get started with the challenge, or to find out more information, you can check it out here.
I hope you’ve gained some useful information from this article regarding intermittent fasting – it’s always a pleasure to share what I learn with you guys!
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I appreciate your time, see you in the next article!