At first, it may seem strange that abstaining from food could lead to healthier living. Since young, many were taught that the key to a healthy life revolves around exercise and nutritional meals. Although that is completely true, the fitness industry has started to get more creative with diets catered towards different goals and intermittent fasting promotes fat loss and even muscle definition! Although it occupies a niche and does it relatively well, this form of dieting has its fair share of risks that are associated with it. Here are the health benefits of intermittent fasting and possible risks to watch out for.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
The word “fasting” is straightforward enough, but “intermittent” can be a little misleading, and if done wrong, can lead to massive health consequences. Rather than an actual diet, Intermittent Fasting moderates the time you eat instead and that throws your body off its regular routine into something that can optimise its metabolism. The traditional fasting method is to abstain from food 16 hours a day, or even fasting a full day twice a week. This can sound extreme, but the logic lies in humans having the capacity to survive off food for a relatively long period of time.
Alternatively there is a strict calorie deficit rule that encourages to only consuming 500-600 calories on two separated days in a week. This is a moderated form of fasting that allows an easier transition for those who are new to this diet. The most common method of fasting is to go by the 16/8 method, which promotes sacrificing breakfast and only opening an eating window between 1pm to 9pm. This is the simplest method by far and does not require calorie counting, leaving a significantly smaller margin for error.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Alters Hormones and Genes
On a microscopic level, fasting makes a lot of alterations to the hormone and genetic components to the body, but not in a bad way. Insulin levels for example drop a fair bit which is good for the body to metabolise at a faster rate. Blood levels are also affected when fasting which does trigger natural growth hormones within the body to ensure muscle-building too.
Additionally, fasting doesn’t make any direct alterations to genetic material, but it does strengthen its protection from diseases and extend its longevity. These changes are rather detailed compared to other factors, but it is good to know how extensive the changes are just by conditioning your body.
Naturally, this would be the primary reason why anyone would choose to go on this rigorous journey, but its popularity is warranted. It isn’t any surprise that abstaining from food frequently would equate to fewer calories and that in turn, increases norepinephrine which is a compound used to break fat.
The intervals of intermittent fasting are relatively short compared to other types of fasts and are meant to kickstart the body to burn the fats reserved since no new sources are coming in. This style of dieting is the epitome of bodily conditioning; in order to get the most out of it, being careful with the type of food you eat and enforcing regular exercise is still critical to ensure that your body is burning fat from reserves.
Reduces Risk of Diabetes
When the body is “starved” off its regular eating routine, you will start to lose insulin and that has large implications to building a tolerance for certain diseases. With a reduction of insulin, blood sugar is automatically lowered and this is the primary factor that determines whether type 2 diabetes surfaces or not. There are many foods that also reduce blood sugar and would go wonderfully with intermittent fasting to reduce the risks to almost zero.
Reduces Oxidative Stress and Inflammation
Oxidative stress is the cause of chronic diseases that stem from aging. When your systems get older, protein, DNA will start to age and see the damage. It was previously implied that fasting can help strengthen our genes and cell’s lifespan - which does inject a little more vitality into our immunity than many other ways of fasting. By separating yourself from a regular intake of food (especially unhealthy ones), other forms of inflammation will start to reduce, which is the cause for many common illnesses that strike the elderly.
Good for the Heart
By improving blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers, it’s no surprise that the heart will see benefits from these results. A high intake of sugar and fat can damage your arteries, which is where avoiding food for more than half the day will do wonders to stabilize blood flow and improve circulation. Fasting alone will not lead to complete improvement; cardiovascular activities and static exercises are good ways to reduce these risks better.