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Have you lost track of your health and fitness level during the lockdown? We hope not but we do not want to ignore its probability. However, if you think about it and act smartly, this time is actually an opportunity.
Let’s talk about fasting. People have done it for ages for purposes other than weight loss but they must have reaped the health benefits of fasting. Intermittent fasting is about reducing your calorie intake by moderating eating and fasting intervals. These changes positively impact your hormones and cells – lowering cholesterol to improve heart health.
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What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Different people have different definitions but most agree on the benefits of intermittent fasting. There are several approaches to it but the common factor among them is the cycle between eating and fasting. However, while fasting means completely abstaining from consuming food, people adapt to it differently – while some only drink water during fasting periods, others find it alright to consume a minimal number of calories.
Time-restricted eating is considered to be most practical and it is backed by several studies. According to these studies, the best results are recorded when people eat during short time frames like 6 to 8 hours a day. However, experts believe that a short time frame as this cannot be sustained in the long run. It might actually have adverse effects on people and turn out to be counterproductive. A very simple example is that you would be much better equipped at handling stress if you have just eaten rather than having eaten hours ago.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
The weight loss benefits of intermittent fasting are as good as conventional diet benefits based on caloric restriction, if not more. Alternate-day fasting, for that matter, is not known to be super effective when it comes to weight loss and maintenance as compared to caloric restriction.
The professors of intermittent fasting benefits claim that fasting alters the hormone levels and causes weight loss. However, others say that the effects are not considerable. However, exercising while following intermittent fasting can help you lose weight much faster.
The drop in sugar and insulin levels during extended periods of fasting causes the body to use the carbs stored in the muscles and the liver in the form of glycogen. The body uses fat for energy, which is known as ketosis. The keto diet is based on this. The ketosis in intermittent fasting is brief because of the short period of fasting.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Most number of deaths around the globe are associated with heart disease. According to studies, intermittent fasting reduces the risk factors such as blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar level, and inflammatory markers.
The uncontrolled growth of cells in the body tissue – cancer – is a terrible disease. Several studies over the years have suggested that fasting is good for the metabolism and reduces the risk of cancer. In fact, studies have proven that fasting reduces some of the side effects of chemotherapy, which is a welcome news for cancer patients since the side effects of cancer can be quite troublesome.
Many chronic diseases and aging are associated with oxidative stress. Molecules known as free radicals react with important molecules like DNA and protein and cause damage. This leads to inflammation – a natural bodily process to battle free radicals – which can in itself cause harm to the body if it increases too much. Fasting is known to improve the body’s resistance to oxidative stress and reduces inflammation.
The cells of our body initiate a sort of a waste removal process – autophagy – when we fast. As a result, the cells are broken down and the dysfunctional protein built up over time is metabolized. If you fast often to let the cells do the “waste removal’, you can reduce the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Intermittent fasting benefits the brain as well as the body by improving several metabolic functions associated. A reduction in oxidative stress, blood sugar, inflammation, and insulin resistance is good for your brain. Intermittent fasting is supposed to facilitate the growth of new nerve cells in the brain.
According to a study, intermittent fasting leads to an increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – a brain hormone – which is known to promote brain health and a deficiency of which can lead to brain problems and depression.