Intermittent fasting can be a healthy way to lose weight. It also provides other benefits including improved brain function and greater longevity. In this article, Dr. Lara talks about the benefits of intermittent fasting and how to safely fast.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of buzz around the world, “intermittent fasting”. Simply put, intermittent fasting is the conscious decision to skip some meals purposely and eat in specific time frames. It’s not a diet in the conventional sense, but rather an eating pattern that revolves between periods of fasting and eating. Intermittent fasting one of the most popular health and fitness trends in the world today. People are using it to simplify their lives, lose weight, and improve their overall health.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Many people incorporate intermittent fasting in their lifestyles to lose weight and stay lean. Generally, when we’re fasting we eat less food and burn more fat. During fasting, the body turns to burning stored fat for energy through a process called ketosis. I recommend intermittent fasting to many of my patients and combine it with my ketogenic nutritional plan to supercharge fat burning and facilitate more effective weight loss.
Additionally, fasting improves weight loss by affecting our hormones. Leptin, a hormone in the body, signals the body to utilize fats stored in the body for energy during a fast. Fasting helps to balance the leptin levels in our body and reduces chronic inflammation, which can dull the brain’s leptin receptor sites. An imbalanced system would cause the body not to recognize the leptin as well, causing the body to store more fat instead of burning more fat.
Anything good for the body is good for the brain. Intermittent fasting enhances brain health in various ways. One of the most significant effects of fasting is that it enhances neuronal autophagy. Autophagy is the process through which cells recycle materials and naturally repair themselves. Neuronal autophagy is essential for brain health because it keeps our brain cells healthy and optimized. Simply, a lack of neuronal autophagy impairs proper brain development and functioning.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequent neurodegenerative disease in the world. It has no known cure, so it is crucial to prevent it from showing up in the first place. Research has shown that intermittent fasting reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or its severity by reducing obesity and the risk of having diabetes, both of which are major risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
Mood & Mental Health
Intermittent fasting also eases depression. Studies have found that people with depression reported improvement in mood, mental alertness, and a sense of peace when fasting.
One of the most exciting benefits of fasting is its ability to extend lifespan. It can protect against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, thereby promoting longevity. In 2010, a study conducted with overweight women showed that fasting reduces risks for chronic diseases. It lowers blood pressure, reduces insulin resistance, and lowers cholesterol.
Cancer is a dangerous disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. Studies have shown that fasting has several metabolism factors that may lead to a reduced risk of cancer. It slows down the progression of skin and breast cancer when done together with chemotherapy by increasing the levels of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Intermittent fasting may also help to keep your heart healthy. Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world today.
Fasting improves various heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, triglycerides, and inflammatory markers. Intermittent fasting has been proven to take center stage when it comes to managing blood sugar. It reduces insulin resistance. Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help reduce blood sugars and prevent type 2 diabetes.
The 3 Most Popular Methods of Intermittent Fasting
Fasting for 16 hours a Day (16/8 Method)
This method involves restricting your eating period to 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours. In the eating window, you can have 2 or 3 meals. 16/8 method can be as simple as not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast. You can drink coffee, water, or any non-caloric beverage during the fast to reduce hunger levels. It is important that you eat healthy foods during the eating window. Eating junk foods will make the exercise futile.
Sample 16/8 Method Schedule:
- Step 1: Drink coffee in the morning. You can take another cup if you feel hungry during the day.
- Step 2: Take a moderate protein, low-carb, high fat lunch at 2 pm.
- Step 3: Do not snack in between meals.
- Step 4: Take dinner by 8 pm.
5:2 Fasting Method
The 5:2 method involves consuming around 500-600 calories for two non-consecutive days in a week but eating normally the other five days. This diet is also known as the Fast Diet. It is recommended that women eat 500 calories and men eat 600 calories on the fasting days. For instance, you may normally eat all days of the week except on Wednesdays and Fridays where you take two light meals (300 calories each meal for men, and 250 calories each meal for women)
East-Stop-Eat: Fasting for 24 Hours Once or Twice a Week
This method involves going for 24 hours without food once or twice a week. For instance, if you have lunch at 2 pm, you don’t eat again until 2 pm the following day. You may also fast from lunch to lunch, or from breakfast to breakfast. Water, coffee, or any other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fasting period.
The Bottom Line on Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting offers many benefits that aren’t available in typical diets. I generally recommend the 16/8 intermittent fasting technique 2-3 times per week to patients in my weight loss program. I personally fast for 16 hours, three times per week, and have noticed substantial improvements in my overall health and energy.
That being said, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It is another tool in the toolbox which some people may want to incorporate. Schedule an appointment with a healthy weight loss doctor to discuss the how fasting could support your healthy lifestyle and help you reach your weight loss goals.