Intermittent fasting is currently getting a lot of attention because of its power to help people lose weight. But, it turns out that there are more benefits to intermittent fasting than just weight loss.
What is IF?
Intermittent fasting—also abbreviated as ‘IF’—is a method of restricting caloric intake not by the number of calories you take in, but when you take them in. More and more studies are showing that when the body is deprived of food for short stretches of time, it responds in some very interesting, and beneficial, ways.
One of the more common formats of IF is called the ‘16/8’ format. This means that the fast lasts for 16 hours and allows for an 8-hour feeding window. There are also ‘20/4’ and ‘17/7’ variations, but 16/8 seems to be the most popular.
When you undergo an intermittent fast, here are four things the body does in response:
#1: Initiation of cellular autophagy
Autophagy refers to what cells do to ‘clean house’. During a fast, cells consume dead or dying particles around them, something that doesn’t happen as often when there is food to digest in the body.
#2: Increased production of hormones
Hormone production in the body bursts into action during a fast. This includes hormones like Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone.
#3: Fat stores are used for energy
When the body doesn’t have food to digest for glycogen—the fuel your cells need to do their jobs—it looks to fat. This is why intermittent fasting is so helpful for those looking to lose weight.
#4: Insulin sensitivity is improved
When there is no food to digest in the G.I. tract, the pancreas gets to take a break. This means lower levels of insulin in the blood. This can be helpful to provide a ‘reset’ for the body as a whole.
A Few Precautions
Remember that intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. Those with renal problems (kidney problems) or who are diabetic are probably not well suited for fasting in general. Also, individuals who are older (65+) may not have the physical constitution to withstand a sudden fast. The same goes for those with autoimmune diseases.
Lastly, as with any significant change in diet you consider, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning.
If you do choose to start intermittent fasting, good luck! And, be sure to come back here and tell us how it goes!