Bygone are times when people spoke of diets and workouts for the sole purpose of losing weight alone to resemble magazine models. The current smarter generation, being equipped with the knowledge to match, is gripped with the need to become the best version of themselves where more than weight loss itself, healthy weight loss is prioritized upon, and in the process, they want to ensure their overall health improves. Various new-age methods have been adopted to suffice the same where intermittent fasting seems to have won the hearts of the majority of fitness enthusiasts. This article will cover in-depth why intermittent fasting is preferred over other weight loss plans and the various health benefits it has in store.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting, as the name suggests, is a method of fasting where people are required to fast and eat; repeat the same and continue the process in a similar alternating manner. Extensive studies have been conducted to show the various health benefits that intermittent fasting provides. Apart from assisting in weight loss, intermittent fasting is said to enhance metabolism, provide the body the protection it needs to fight diseases, uplift mood, improve one’s energy level and increase longevity by following a disciplined lifestyle. Mainly based on when you are required to eat, intermittent fasting is easy to follow provided one is determined, dedicated and consistent. The interesting thing about intermittent fasting is that it does not impose any food restrictions as such. Health experts claim that people involuntarily anyway fast daily and this happens when they are asleep. All that intermittent fasting calls for is to fast slightly longer comparatively. There are various types of this fasting method that one can adopt depending on factors like health requirements, convenience, gender, etc. A point to bear in mind is to avoid eating completely whilst fasting and to load up on nutritious food when not fasting. Of the various types, 16/8 method is most preferred where you fast for a 16-hourly period and then eat for 8 straight hours. Other forms are 5:2 fasting, time-restricted fasting, eat-stop-eat, overnight fasting and others.
Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Just as our mind and body need rest for self-rejuvenation, so does the metabolic system inside of our body. Many a time people tend to overeat which creates havoc within our bodies unseen to the eye. This is where practices like fasting can come in our favor in immeasurable ways. Intermittent fasting specifically holds significance in this regard. Not only does it assist in weight loss but it also provides the body with various other benefits. Let us take a look at some of those:
- Blood sugar control – intermittent fasting helps to improve the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients. Many studies have been conducted on the subject to substantiate this claim. Upon calculating the calorie intake of some sugar patients, researchers made them eat for 6 hours straight, with fasting for the remaining hours, for 5 weeks, and found that there was no spike in the blood sugar levels of those people and instead the readings significantly improved.
- Better blood pressure readings – for years studies have proved that those who fast for religious purposes have always had healthier hearts as compared to those who don’t fast at all. This automatically led to the belief that practicing intermittent fasting would garner similar results. In the majority of cases with people who followed intermittent fasting, the blood pressure readings garnered satisfactory results. However, it is best to avoid unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, etc for the best results.
- Improved Metabolism – our bodies are naturally equipped with organs and internal parts that help us withstand extreme conditions of drought and food scarcity. So, fasting for a few good hours would do us no harm, provided during the non-fasting period we provide our body with nutritious meals as and when required. Fasting shifts our body’s natural metabolism sufficing the body to withstand the period lacking in food and water. During fasting, when the body lacks in carbohydrates, stored fatty acids and ketones within take their place giving rise to ketosis which in turn efficiently produces the energy the body requires to function. In this manner, fasting helps assist metabolism even in the absence of food.
- Reduces inflammation – regular and continuous eating causes the body to function without a break leading to a spike in heart diseases and diabetes. Fasting, however, gives the body time to rest to self-repair the cells which reduce the risk of diabetes, improves heart health and thus results in a significant reduction of inflammation. Several studies have been conducted to back this claim.
- Better cholesterol readings – fasting can reduce the bad cholesterol levels in our body also known as LDL. Spike in LDL levels can lead to various diseases so it is important to keep our cholesterol levels under control. In this regard, intermittent fasting can be beneficial to those suffering from high cholesterol issues.
- Improved brain health – during fasting, when the body is in the state of ketosis, the protein responsible for the health and sustenance of neurons gets stimulated which in turn improves memory power. Neurons are in charge of transmitting nerve impulses so fasting helps enhance this process. Studies conducted on both animals and humans have substantiated this finding. Verbal memory, ability to think, better decision making are certain areas that showed improvement as a result of fasting.
- Intermittent fasting has shown a multiplication in growth hormones for up to 5 times its normal count. This in turn promotes muscle gain and fat loss. It also increases the production of the fat-burning hormone called norepinephrine.
Who Should Refrain From Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is not designed for everyone to follow as a means for weight loss and to reap other health benefits. Some people who should refrain from this form of fasting are as follows:
- Those with eating disorders are better off refraining from intermittent fasting, especially those used to binge eating or have bulimia. This is because intermittent fasting calls for following a disciplined diet which may not be possible for the aforementioned set of people. And thus it may cause more harm than good.
- Those having type 1 diabetes and suffering from chronic health issues(like cancer) are better off refraining from intermittent fasting to avoid adverse health issues.
- Pregnant women are advised by health experts to not follow intermittent fasting as they need to continuously supply nutrients not only to the baby but to themselves as well. So, eating often is important and fasting during pregnancy is never a good idea.
- Sportspeople who are undergoing strenuous training sessions need to refrain from intermittent fasting as they need high levels of energy to perform well. Therefore, adequate nutrient intake is essential often in smaller portions, and hence fasting is not a wise choice for them to achieve goals.
Intermittent fasting is a sure shot solution to get rid of those flabs and conquer your weight goals. The countless other health benefits that one can reap by following this healthy fasting method comes by as a boon no doubt. But before blindly following any weight loss routine, always make it a point to speak to your doctor to ensure the chosen method poses no other health risk. Especially those with underlying health conditions need to practice more caution than the rest. And once the doctor gives the green signal know that you are on the right track as long as consistency is made the key to unlocking the fitness goals of your dreams.