Intermittent fasting is a nutrition pattern where you transition from eating to fasting.
There are many types of intermittent fasting , such as the 16:8 or 5:2 methods.
Numerous studies show that it can have powerful benefits for your body and brain.
Here are 10 evidence-based health benefits of intermittent fasting .
1. Intermittent fasting changes the function of cells, genes and hormones.
When you don't eat for a while, several things happen to your body.
For example, your body initiates important cellular repair processes and alters hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible.
Here are some of the changes that occur in your body while fasting:
- Insulin Levels: Rates Insulin blood levels drop considerably, which facilitates the burning of fat .
- Human Growth Hormone: blood levels of growth hormone can be multiplied by 5 . Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain and have many other benefits .
- Cell repair: the body induces important cellular repair processes, such as the removal of waste from cells .
- Expression of genes: there are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease .
Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting are tied to these changes in hormones, gene expression, and cell function.
2. Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat
Many who try intermittent fasting do. to lose weight .
Generally speaking, intermittent fasting will cause you to eat fewer meals.
Unless you compensate by eating a lot more during other meals, you will end up absorbing fewer calories .
Additionally, intermittent fasting improves hormonal function to facilitate weight loss.
Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels, and increased amounts of norepinephrine (norepinephrine) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.
For this reason, short-term fasting increases in do your metabolic rate by 3.6 to 14%, helping you burn even more calories .
In other words, intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It increases your metabolic rate (increases calories expended) and reduces the amount of food you eat (reduces calories consumed).
According to a 2014 review of the scientific literature, intermittent fasting can lead to 3-8% weight loss over 3-24 weeks . It is enormous.
People also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference, indicating that they lost a lot of fat abdominal, harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that causes disease.
One study also showed that intermittent fasting caused less muscle loss than continuous calorie restriction .
All things considered, intermittent fasting can be an incredibly powerful weight loss tool .
3. Intermittent Fasting May Reduce Insulin Resistance and Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Type 2 diabetes has become incredibly common over the past few decades.
Its main feature is high blood sugar against the background of insulin resistance.
Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar and protect against type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, intermittent fasting has major benefits for insulin resistance and leads to an impressive reduction in blood sugar .
In human studies of intermittent fasting , fasting blood sugar was reduced by 3–6%, while fasting insulin was reduced by 20–31% .
A study in diabetic rats also showed that intermittent fasting protected against kidney damage , one of the most serious complications of diabetes .
This implies that intermittent fasting can be very protective for people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
However, there may be gender differences. A study conducted with of women at showed that blood sugar control actually deteriorated after a 22-day intermittent fasting protocol .
4. Intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
Oxidative stress is one of the stages of aging and many chronic diseases .
These are unstable molecules called free radicals, which react with other important molecules (like proteins and DNA) and damage them .
Several studies show that intermittent fasting can improve the body's resistance to oxidative stress .
Plus, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation , another key contributor to all kinds of common illnesses .
5. Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Heart Health
Heart disease is currently the biggest cause of death in the world .
Various health markers (called “risk factors”) are known to be associated with an increased or decreased risk of heart disease.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve many different risk factors, including blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, and blood sugar .
However, much of this is based on animal studies. The effects on heart health need to be studied much further in humans before any recommendations can be made.
6. Intermittent fasting induces various cellular repair processes
When we fast, cells in the body initiate a cellular “waste disposal” process called autophagy .
It involves cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time.
Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease .
7. Intermittent Fasting May Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells.
Fasting has been shown to have several metabolic benefits that may reduce cancer risk.
Although human studies are needed, promising evidence animal studies indicate that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer .
There is also evidence in human cancer patients, showing that fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy .
8. Intermittent fasting is good for your brain
What is good for the body is also often good for the brain.
Intermittent fasting improves various metabolic characteristics known to be important for brain health .
This includes reduced oxidative stress, reduced inflammation, and reduced blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Several studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting can increase the growth of new nerve cells, which should have benefits for brain function .
It also increases levels of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) , a deficiency of which has been implicated in depression and various other brain problems .
Animal studies have also shown that intermittent fasting protects against brain damage from stroke .
9. Intermittent Fasting May Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world.
There is no cure available for Alzheimer's disease, so preventing it from manifesting in the first place is essential.
A study in rats shows that intermittent fasting can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease or reduce its severity .
In a series of case reports, a lifestyle intervention that included short-term daily fasts was able to significantly improve Alzheimer's symptoms in 9 out of 10 patients .
Animal studies also suggest that fasting may protect against other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's and Huntington's disease .
However, more research in humans is needed.
10. Intermittent Fasting Can Extend Your Lifespan and Help You Live Longer
One of the most interesting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan.
Studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan in a similar way to continuous calorie restriction .
In some of these studies, the effects were quite dramatic. In one, rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than non-fasted rats .
Although far from proven in humans, intermittent fasting has become very popular among the anti-aging crowd.
Given the known metabolic benefits and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer, healthier life.