Intermittent Fasting revolves around the method of eating at a certain period of time and fasting for the remaining hours. In an episode of The Bulletproof Radio podcast, Dr Jason Fung refers to how intermittent fasting drops the insulin levels, altering the chances of random insulin spikes throughout the day causing far less inflammation.
Insulin is a natural hormone created by the pancreas that controls the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Frequently eating throughout the day leads to insulin spikes that cause inflammation in the body. It can lead to diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, premature aging and various other health difficulties.
Here are some of the amazing benefits of intermittent fasting:
1) The Most Efficient Way to Burn Fat
Instead of tracking the calories on your plate, intermittent fasting requires you to focus on the time period of your meals. There are different methods of intermittent fasting: the “16:8 Hours Fasting” routine where an individual fast for 16 hours and eats in an 8-hour eating window; the “20:4 Hours Fasting” routine by fasting for 20 hours and eating within 4-hour window or the "5:2 Diet" as Kate Harrison suggests in her book that explains the health and weight loss technique in which a person eats for the five days without restricting calories and intermittent fasts for the rest of the two days of the week.
Intermittent fasting leads us to a state called Ketosis in which our body burns pure body fat cells for energy instead of food. Ketosis is a metabolic process of using fat as a source of energy instead of carbohydrates.
Unlike most diets out there that promote six meals a day, fasting creates an anabolic state so that while losing weight, we lose pure body fat rather than muscles thus creating far less chance of being “skinny-fat”. It is not unusual to lose one pound per day in a fasting focused lifestyle. Some people believe that fasting leads to significant muscle loss. However, this study proves that it actually isn't the case. When we are fasting, we are using our stored fat instead of using the food we are eating to gain the energy.
2) The Key to Longevity
A study shows that intermittent fasting causes mitochondria of our cells to shift and maintain their functions longer than normal to promote healthy aging and longer lifespan. Another study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition elaborates how calorie restriction done in both animals and humans led to the improvement in insulin sensitivity and significantly reduced oxidative stress and metabolic rate.
3) Boosts Growth Hormone
While there are ways to boost human growth hormone through supplements, why not do it the natural way? Intermittent fasting dramatically increases human growth hormone, particularly more in men. Human growth hormone plays its role in burning adipose tissue, increasing bone density, maximizing exercise capacity, decreasing the aging process, enhancing the immune system and building muscle mass.
4) Enables the Autophagy Effect
Autophagy literally translates to “cellular eating”. Intermittent fasting triggers autophagy in the body and eliminates damaged cells from the body by splitting cells where only the strong cells survive. This means cancer cells and other harmful toxins can be eliminated through autophagy. This study shows how fasting at least 13 hours per night may drastically reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Catherine Marinac, lead author and doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center stated how prolonging the overnight-fasting-interval may be a simple non-pharmacological strategy for reducing a person’s risk of breast cancer recurrence and even other cancers.
5) Improves Memory Image: Unsplash
Intermittent fasting also improves learning and memory and prevents diseases like Alzheimer’s. In this 2009 study, after three months of calorie restriction, 50 healthy elderly subjects in controlled groups were testified of having their memory improved. It was measured by their ability to recall words.
As been proven time and again, three meals a day — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — is arbitrary, pointing to more of a cultural actuality rather than a biological prerequisite.