I get asked a lot “Why do you Intermittent Fast?
I originally started Intermittent fasting 2x a week when I was training for a bodybuilding competition. I followed the 16:8 IF protocol where I would fast for 16 hours then eat within an 8 hour window. I initially did it to help with weight loss as I was eating few calories within that 8 hour window.
Unless you compensate by eating much more during the other meals, you will end up taking in fewer calories. Additionally, intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss.
Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.
For this reason, short-term fasting can actually increase your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories.
So intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It boosts your metabolic rate (increases calories out) and reduces the amount of food you eat (reduces calories in).
According to a 2014 review of the scientific literature, intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks.
The people also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference, which indicates that they lost lots of belly fat, the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that causes disease.
One review study also showed that intermittent fasting caused less muscle loss than continuous calorie restriction.
There are other benefits to Intermittent Fasting though:
Changes The Function of Cells, Genes and Hormones:
When you don’t eat for a while, several things happen in your body.
For example, your body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible.
Here are some of the changes that occur in your body during fasting:
- Insulin levels: Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning.
- Human growth hormone: The blood levels of growth hormone may increase as much as 5-fold. Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, and have numerous other benefits.
- Cellular repair: The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells.
- Gene expression: There are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against diseaseAlso can Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has become incredibly common in recent decades. Its main feature is high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance.Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes.
Participating in intermittent fasting regularly has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and lead to a reduction in blood sugar levels.
In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 3-6%, while fasting insulin has been reduced by 20-31%.
It can Reduce Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in The Body
Oxidative stress is one of the steps towards aging and many chronic diseases. It involves unstable molecules called free radicals, which react with other important molecules (like protein and DNA) and damage them.
Several studies show that intermittent fasting may enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress.
IF is Good For Your Brain
What is good for the body is often good for the brain as well.
Intermittent fasting improves various metabolic features known to be important for brain health.
This includes reduced oxidative stress, reduced inflammation and a reduction in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
Several studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting may increase the growth of new nerve cells, which should have benefits for brain function.
It also increases levels of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a deficiency of which has been implicated in depression and various other brain problems.
IF induces Various Cellular Repair Processes
When we fast, the cells in the body initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy.
This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time.
Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.