Intermittent fasting involves alternating between periods of fasting and eating normally. There are all sorts of ways to participate in intermittent fasting.
Some individuals pick a simple style called the 16:8 diet where they fast for sixteen hours and only eat food during an eight-hour window.
Others pick more drastic methods like a 5/2 split involving fasting for two days a week and eating normally five days a week.
This unusual style of eating developed based on the idea that early hunter-gatherer style humans did not eat several times a day. It is becoming popular due to some unique health benefits.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Reveal some of the unique health benefits of intermittent fasting now.
1. Reduces Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is a problematic condition that develops when the body does not properly metabolize blood sugar.
It is often considered an early warning sign of type II diabetes, but even without diabetes, insulin resistance can cause many health issues, including fatigue, weight gain, acne, difficulty concentrating, and intense sugar cravings.
Intermittent fasting affects an individual’s insulin resistance because the longer fasting periods make insulin levels drop drastically.
Since insulin is not constantly at heightened levels, the body becomes more sensitive to tiny amounts of insulin, which eventually reduces insulin resistance. This allows it to properly employ insulin to turn sugar into energy.
Improved insulin metabolism is important because it lets individuals get the energy they need and also keeps sugar from building up in the bloodstream.
2. Role in Weight Loss
One of the most common reasons individuals try intermittent fasting is because they want to lose weight. The main role in weight loss played by intermittent fasting is lowering an individual’s total caloric intake.
The fasting periods cut out opportunities when a person would be eating calories, so they are eating far fewer calories overall. However, even though an individual has a decreased caloric intake, they can still eat normal sized meals.
For example, a petite woman trying to eat an average of 1200 calories per day could have a small lunch of around three hundred calories and a dinner of nine hundred calories. This can feel far more satisfying than having three tiny meals and a small snack throughout the day.
Another nice benefit of using intermittent fasting for weight loss is individuals typically feel less hungry on the diet. In fact, many individuals often report they quit feeling hungry after they get used to fasting, so they do not spend their entire fasting period craving food.
3. Connection to the Ketogenic Diet
Intermittent fasting is all about individuals paying attention to when they eat instead of how they eat, but it is still closely related to the ketogenic diet. The connection to the ketogenic diet is all about how the body creates energy.
On the keto diet, individuals try to enter ketosis, a state where the body burns stored fat deposits for energy instead of recently consumed sugar.
Entering ketosis involves avoiding carbohydrates while increasing fat intake. Intermittent fasting is an easy way to get to ketosis because during long periods without food, the body burns off all the stored sugar it is using for energy.
Then it will start to fuel itself for the rest of the fast by burning fat instead. Even just a short fast helps individuals quickly enter ketosis, and long term intermittent fasting makes it easier to stay in ketosis.
4. Improves Blood Pressure
Blood pressure refers to the amount of pressure blood puts on veins as it moves throughout the body, and excessively high blood pressure can damage the veins. Fortunately, intermittent fasting makes it easy for individuals to control their blood pressure.
Fasting has been linked to a reduction in blood pressure because the body tries to conserve its energy during a fasted state. Even when individuals are not fasting, their blood pressure will be better if they use intermittent fasting to lose weight.
Being overweight or obese greatly increases blood pressure because the body has to work harder to circulate blood, so reaching a healthy weight is one of the best ways to control blood pressure.
When intermittent fasting improves an individual’s blood pressure, they get a lot of helpful benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and dementia. However, intermittent fasting does not mean individuals should avoid liquids.
Becoming dehydrated can actually worsen blood pressure, so individuals need to make sure they are drinking enough water while fasting.
5. Fights Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s way of responding to infections and trying to heal damage, so it results in increased swelling, heightened temperatures, and increased blood flow.
This can be a good thing in the short term, but some individuals end up with chronically high inflammation, which can end up damaging cells in the body.
Research has found individuals who practice intermittent fasting have less inflammation overall. Intermittent fasting fights inflammation through three different mechanisms.
The increase in insulin sensitivity keeps glucose from building up in the blood and causing inflammation. Intermittent fasting’s ability to trigger ketosis helps to create B-hydroxybutyrate, a type of ketone that blocks the body from producing some inflammatory chemicals.
Finally, intermittent fasting helps speed up the process of clearing out damaged cells in the body. This leaves individuals with healthy, newer cells that are less likely to trigger inflammatory responses.