What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting Ideology
Fasting in one form or another is a distinguished tradition and throughout the centuries, devotees have claimed that it brings physical and spiritual renewal. Intermittent Fasting is a type of scheduled eating plan where you restrict normal daily eating to a 6-8 hours window time without cutting calories. Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16 hours fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.
According to some studies, fasting has been shown to improve biomarkers of disease, reduce oxidative stress and preserve learning and memory functioning. In another study, the effects of intermittent and continuous energy restriction were studied on weight loss and various biomarkers (for conditions including breast cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease) among young overweight woman (Int J Obesity 2011;35:714–27). It was found that intermittent restriction was as effective as a continuous restriction for improving weight loss, insulin sensitivity and other health biomarkers. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680567/]
Intermittent fasting also helps improve total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in both overweight and normal-weight people (according to a study analysis in Nutrition Reviews). Some key benefits of Intermittent fasting have been listed below.
- Insulin resistance:Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels by 20-31% (1). This should protect against type 2 diabetes.
- Weight loss:As mentioned above, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories (2, 3).
- Inflammation:Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases such as Asthma (4, 5, 6). One hypothesis about fasting states that during the fasting period, cells are under a mild stress and they respond to the stress adaptively by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and resist disease.
- Heart health:Intermittent fasting may reduce LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance. These are all risk factors for heart disease (7, 8, 9).
- Cancer:Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer (10, 11, 12, 13). The same study concluded that fasting before chemotherapy would result in better cure rates and fewer deaths. This is attributed to the fact that fasting enables the body to develop resistance to oxidative stress.
- Brain health:Intermittent fasting increases a brain hormone called BDNF, and may aid the growth of new nerve cells (14, 15, 16). It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease (17).
- Anti-aging:Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats live as much as 36-83% longer (18, 19).
- Easy to follow diet: Most diets do not work because we cannot follow the diet in the long term. Intermittent Fasting overcomes this behavioral problem because it is easy to implement once you get used to the idea that you do not need to eat all the time. It does not cut the calories but specifies gaps between meals which are relatively easy to follow as compared to completely cut off a certain food from the day’s menu.