Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting word on notepad with clock, fork and knife on white plate, intermittent fasting and weight loss concept

Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is proving to be an effective form of weight loss. When correctly used, the health benefits of intermittent fasting are extensive. People who have failed to lose weight using traditional diet programs that restrict calorie intake may benefit from one of the various intermittent fasting schedules. Everyone is different in terms of metabolism and how their body processes insulin and stores fat. The key is finding an intermittent fasting schedule that triggers your body and puts in weight loss mode.

General Benefits from Intermittent Fasting 

Intermittent fasting is an effective way to reset your body’s metabolism and will actually promote weight loss when performed correctly. Individuals who have trouble losing weight using conventional methods that involve calorie restrictions may be able to shed pounds by disrupting the body’s normal eating habits. The following benefits can be gained if intermittent fasting is included in a well-rounded weight loss plan.

Intermittent Fasting Helps with Fat Loss

Intermittent fasting helps to support weight loss in a few different ways. First, you eat fewer meals so you automatically take in fewer calories on a daily basis. Secondly, since less food is coming in, your body’s metabolic rate is altered. Your metabolism will gradually begin to speed up helping you to burn more calories in a shorter period of time. (1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25540982/

Intermittent Fasting Lowered Blood Glucose Levels

Intermittent fasting also has a direct impact on how your body burns glucose. This type of fasting actively reduces insulin resistance and also works to reduces blood sugar levels. It’s possible that including intermittent fasting in your weight loss plan may play a role in lowering your risk of being diagnosed with diabetes. Intermittent fasting aids the metabolism in balancing both blood sugar levels as well as insulin resistance. (2)https://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193152441400200X

Intermittent Fasting may Improve Heart Health

Heart disease is ranked at the top of the chart in terms of human death. Humans have multiple risk factors that indicate whether or not a person has an increased chance of being diagnosed with heart disease. Because intermittent fasting affects the body’s metabolism, it also helps stimulate the release of many vital hormones like epinephrine, adrenaline, and others that boost energy levels.

The more energy you have, the more active you are. The more active you are, the stronger your heart and cardiovascular system are. (3)https://ibimapublishing.com/articles/ENDO/2014/459119/

Intermittent Fasting Reduces Cell Damage

Oxidation and inflammation are two of the main contributors to cellular damage throughout the body. Oxidative stress works along with unstable molecules to damage cells. By reacting with DNA and specific proteins, the oxidation process can cause irreparable damage to cells throughout the body. Intermittent fasting disrupts the oxidation process and combats the stress and free radicals, preventing it from causing inflammation that leads to other serious health conditions. (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17291990/

Intermittent Fasting Slows Down the Advancement of Certain Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders are caused by a defect in the body’s immune system. This defect causes the fighter cells in the body that normally attack intruder cells, to attack healthy cells instead. Because intermittent fasting helps to minimize inflammation and reduce cellular damage, it can also slow down the progression of specific diseases that fall under the autoimmune category. This can also include Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. (5) https://www.ucihealth.org/blog/2017/04/treat-parkinsons-earlier-better

Intermittent Fasting Helps Lowers Blood Pressure

Alternate day fasting and intermittent fasting work together to speed up your body’s metabolism and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Intermittent fasting breaks the cycle of oxidative stress that can cause the heart muscle to deteriorate over time. By strengthening the cardiovascular system, it reduces stress on the heart and allowing it to work more efficiently. This in turn, reduces the amount of pressure it takes to pump blood throughout the body.

Regular intermittent fasting can sustain lower blood pressure levels on a long-term basis if it is included as part of a well-rounded health and wellness plan. (6)https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/intermittent-fasting/faq-20441303

Intermittent Fasting Improves Memory and Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

The body’s metabolism plays a key role in both memory retention and whether or not a person has a higher than normal risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Intermittent fasting reduces the effects of oxidative stress and works to prevent cellular deterioration. One characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease is the death of brain cells. With intermittent fasting and the metabolism’s ability to improve blood flow, memory can be substantially improved and the risk of Alzheimer’s becoming a major issue is dramatically lowered. (7)https://www.aging-us.com/article/NjJf3fWGKw4e99CyC/text

How Is Intermittent Fasting Different From Diets that Restrict Calories? 

Both intermittent fasting and calorie-restricted diets are intended to be long-term habits. For those who use them, these habits, if followed consistently, become second nature and allow for gradual and sustainable weight loss. The biggest difference between calorie-restricted diets and intermittent fasting is the frequency and size of meals.

Restricting the number of calories you consume a day normally means eating much smaller amounts. It doesn’t mean reducing the frequency of meals. Calories can still pile up even when healthier foods are the staples of the menus. With a fasting diet, no food is consumed at all for several hours a day.

For example, a 16/8 fasting routine means that no food is consumed for 16 hours each day. During the eight hours that food can be consumed, it is spaced out over the full eight hours. Fewer calories are consumed simply because there is less time for a regular eating pattern. Alternate day fasting means that a regular eating pattern is used one day and then followed by a day of eating nothing. (8)https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/calorie-restriction-and-fasting-diets-what-do-we-know#:~:text=Calorie%20restriction%20is%20a%20consistent,calories%20during%20non%2Dfasting%20times.

Both dieting practices have merit, but neither one will work for everyone. The key is understanding how your body works and what type of metabolism you have. Calorie restriction may work for some individuals who need to eat on a regular basis. For individuals who can go long periods without eating, intermittent fasting may be the key to long-term, sustained weight loss and improved health and wellness.

Who Benefits the Most From Intermittent Fasting? 

While the benefits of intermittent fasting are apparent for some, it can actually be dangerous for others. Individuals who have a hard to gaining weight or sustaining a healthy weight should avoid this type of diet regimen. The boost that it gives to the body’s metabolism can actually cause the body to burn too many calories and not leave enough to support healthy bodily functions.

Intermittent Fasting, Bodybuilding and Weight Loss

Bodybuilders and individuals who are trying to lose weight are normally thought to reap the most benefit out of this type of diet. Not only does intermittent fasting help the body to maintain a state of ketosis, it also assists in cellular recovery. Intermittent fasting prevents damage to cells caused by stress and also helps during the recovery phase after a hard workout. Intermittent fasting also reduces inflammation that can lead to pain and discomfort after a workout.

Intermittent Fasting for Individuals Who Are Insulin Resistant

One of the benefits of intermittent fasting is the ability to lower blood sugar levels. For individuals who are insulin resistant, this is a key factor that helps to keep them in balance. Intermittent fasting burns excess glucose and helps the body maintain sufficient levels. Because the body does not respond well to its own insulin, exercise and diet are the two best ways to minimize glucose levels. Intermittent fasting forces the body to use glucose, decreasing the amount in the bloodstream and allows the body to function more effectively.

Research That Backs Up the Findings 

For many years, the majority of research on intermittent fasting was performed on animals. Today, more and more human studies have been performed, proving that intermittent fasting does indeed have benefits. In addition to the Keto Diet, which has recently put the focus back on various types of fasting, there are many other diet regimens that include fasting in some form or another.

Studies are continually being performed on both Alternate Day and Intermittent fasting that are meant to show who will benefit the most as well as what the exact benefits are in terms of using these programs for weight loss. Studies are also being performed to prove how intermittent fasting can be used in the prevention and treatment of Type 2 Diabetes as well as the benefits it offers to athletes when it comes to muscle/cell recovery and improved heart/cardiovascular function.

Weight loss professionals are also calling for more studies in that area as well. For those who can benefit from intermittent fasting, it is an ideal approach to help them regain their health and overall well-being. Performing your own research will allow you to determine if intermittent weight loss is something that may be able to help you in reaching your health and fitness goals!

References   [ + ]

1.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25540982/
2. https://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193152441400200X
3. https://ibimapublishing.com/articles/ENDO/2014/459119/
4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17291990/
5.  https://www.ucihealth.org/blog/2017/04/treat-parkinsons-earlier-better
6. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/intermittent-fasting/faq-20441303
7. https://www.aging-us.com/article/NjJf3fWGKw4e99CyC/text
8. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/calorie-restriction-and-fasting-diets-what-do-we-know#:~:text=Calorie%20restriction%20is%20a%20consistent,calories%20during%20non%2Dfasting%20times.

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