Everyone should try and see the benefits of intermittent fasting at least once in their life. I have been practicing intermittent fasting once / twice a week for about a year. I have breakfast at 7, lunch at 12.30, snack at 15 and then I skip dinner. So I fast for 16 hours until the next morning when I have breakfast again (this is the 16/8 scheme, also called the Leangains scheme). During this time I have gained muscle mass, decreased body fat, and reduced training times. In other words, I am stronger and leaner even though I spend fewer hours in the gym and eat less.
You may wonder: how is this possible? Why would anyone fast for 16 consecutive hours? What are the benefits? Is there any scientific basis in all of this? It’s dangerous?
In this article, we will see that it is not that crazy. Intermittent fasting is easy to apply to your lifestyle, and there are indeed many benefits for your health.
What Is Intermittent Fasting And Why Should You Do It?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of fasting and periods of eating. The most common form is the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours.
Intermittent fasting is a diet plan where you fast for some time and then eat normally. You cycle between periods of eating and fasting. Intermittent fasting is not only beneficial to your physical health but also for your mental clarity. It also helps with anxiety, depression, and mood swings. It also helps with memory recall, concentration, and focus.
Intermittent fasting can be done by anyone who has the willpower to do it. Many different intermittent fasting methods can be done from one day a week to every other day or even every few days.
Why is it worth changing when you eat?
Primarily it’s a great way to lose weight without going on a crazy diet or cutting calories down to zero. Also, intermittent fasting is a good way to maintain muscle mass while losing weight.
That said, the main reason people practice intermittent fasting is to lose fat. We will talk about this shortly.
Last but not least, intermittent fasting is one of the simplest strategies we have to reduce body weight while still maintaining adequate weight because it requires modest behavior change. This is a great thing because it means that intermittent fasting falls into the category of “simple enough to do but significant in making a difference”.
How does intermittent fasting work?
To understand how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss, we first need to understand the difference between what happens when you eat and what happens when you fast.
Your body is in the digestion phase when it digests and absorbs food. Typically, digestion begins when you start eating and lasts three to five hours. During this phase, it is very difficult for your body to burn fat because the insulin levels are high.
The next phase lasts 8 to 12 hours after your last meal. After 12 hours you enter the fasting phase where it is much easier for your body to burn fat because insulin levels are low.
Since we enter the fasting state only 12 hours after our last meal, it is rare for our bodies to be in this fat-burning phase. This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat and how much they eat. Fasting allows your body to consume fat, which is rarely achieved during a normal eating schedule.
The benefits of intermittent fasting
Losing fat is certainly important, but it’s not the only benefit of fasting. Intermittent fasting is a diet that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.
The idea behind it is to allow the body to go into a metabolic state where it can burn fat more efficiently.
There are several different types of intermittent fasting, but they all have the same goal: to promote weight loss and improve health.
There are many benefits of intermittent fasting, including:
- Improved mental clarity
- Increased energy levels
- Improved memory and cognitive function
- Decreased risk for chronic diseases, such as diabetes type 2, heart disease, and cancer
Intermittent fasting simplifies the day
Coming home in the evening and not having to prepare dinner can be a very relaxing thing.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. The intermittent fasting diet has been around for centuries, but it’s gaining popularity with people who want to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their life.
Intermittent fasting is a type of diet where you cycle between periods of not eating, called fasts, and periods of eating. It’s also known as intermittent calorie restriction or time-restricted feeding.
There are lots of different intermittent fasting methods, but they all have the same basic idea: You stop eating for some time, then you eat during another window of time.
Intermittent fasting helps you live longer
Scientists have long argued that limiting calories is a way to extend life. From a logical point of view, this makes sense. When you starve, your body finds ways to prolong life. It is certainly not arguing that you have to starve to live longer. But the good news is that intermittent fasting activates many of the same life-extending mechanisms, just like calorie restriction.
As early as 1945 it was discovered that intermittent fasting prolonged life in mice (here is the study). More recently, this study confirmed that intermittent fasting allows for a longer lifespan.
Intermittent fasting can reduce the risk of cancer
This aspect is still under discussion because there has not been much research and experimentation on the relationship between cancer and fasting. Initial reports, however, seem positive.
This study of 10 cancer patients suggests that side effects of chemotherapy can be reduced by fasting before treatment. The finding is also supported by another study that used alternate day fasting with cancer patients and concluded that fasting before chemotherapy would have resulted in better cure rates and fewer deaths.
Finally, this comprehensive analysis of many fasting and disease studies concluded that fasting appears not only to reduce the risk of cancer but also that of cardiovascular disease.
Intermittent fasting is much simpler than dieting
The reason most diets fail is not that we eat unexpected foods, but because we don’t follow the diet for the long term. It’s not a problem what we eat, it’s a behavior change problem.
This is a big plus for intermittent fasting because it’s easy to practice once you get over the idea that you need to eat all the time. For example, this study found that intermittent fasting proved to be an effective weight-loss strategy in obese adults and concluded that “subjects adapt quickly” to the intermittent fasting routine.
In my opinion, the ease of intermittent fasting is the best reason to try it. It provides a wide range of health benefits without requiring a drastic lifestyle change.
Note: healthy subjects can try to follow the intermittent fasting pattern (at most a couple of days a week), monitoring its effects; for people with health problems or disorders (diabetes, taking medicines, underweight, pressure problems, …) it is better to ask the doctor for an opinion as the metabolic profile could on the contrary worsen