The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is thought to aid weight loss, increase mental clarity, reduce inflammation, prevent and even reverse some forms of disease. As the hype around this time-specific diet grows, we take a deeper dive into the benefits it may possess.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Instead of focusing on what you eat like the majority of diets, intermittent fasting (or metabolic switching) focuses on when you eat. This diet requires you to choose and stick to regular time periods to eat and fast each day. For instance, you might try to only eat during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. The most popular time for fasting is in the evening as many people find this easier, keeping the time window for food consumption in the evening hours. However, keep in mind that this can often put stress on the digestive system before bed and sometimes interfere with sleep.
Before the industrial revolution when humans learnt how to farm, our ancestors went for long periods without eating; it required a lot of time and energy to hunt and gather. Fast forward to the
21st century, and an abundance of food in the West has resulted in many of us sitting, snacking and seemingly overeating. Extra calories and less exercise result in a higher risk of obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease along with many other illnesses. Studies reveal that intermittent fasting may well help prevent and potentially reserve these unhealthy trends.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Rest and Reset
When our bodies have to constantly work to digest food, the good bacteria in our gut get overwhelmed. This means they don’t have time to finish their all too important responsibilities including flushing out toxins and absorbing nutrients. Fasting helps the body to rest from digesting. 50% of our energy is utilised to break down the food we consume. Therefore, fasting can provide the body with extra energy it can use elsewhere.
Intermittent fasting has been studied for its effect in decreasing inflammation such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). This is due to the fact that it can reduce the amount of monocyte cells in the blood which cause inflammation. Those that were found in the blood after fasting were said to be less inflammatory than people who did not partake in intermittent fasting.
Weight Loss and Fat Burning
Intermittent fasting can also enhance our metabolic functionality. It can exhaust the body’s sugar stores resulting in the burning of fat and balancing of blood sugar levels. Finally, it can also increase the release of fat burning hormone norepinephrine.
As mentioned, when we let our digestive systems rest, our body has reserved energy which it can use elsewhere; this can often aid cognitive energy. In fact, studies reveal that intermittent fasting can have dramatic effects on the brain, aiding working and verbal memory in adults. Research also suggests that metabolic switching increases neuroplasticity in the brain whilst increasing the brain's resistance to injury and disease.
Heart Health, Diabetes and Obesity
As intermittent fasting aids fat burning and overeating, it can often improve and lower blood pressure and resting heart rate. Additionally, it can reduce the risk of heart disease, lowering insulin levels, which helps to combat the risk of obesity.
Metabolic switching has shown to reduce tissue damage and accelerate wound repair and regeneration. Studies have even discovered that intermittent fasting induces faster wound closure, resulting in less scar formation.
If you are considering intermittent fasting, we have come up with a few dietary tips:
Since a considerable amount of water can leave the body during intermittent fasting, hydration is vital. When not drinking sufficient amounts during fasting, flu symptoms can develop such as headaches or dizziness. The absorption of electrolytes, specifically sodium (which leaves the body with water) can help diminish these symptoms.
Essential and Healthy Fats
You should never completely remove fats from your diet even when trying to lose weight, but rather replace them with healthy fats. Certain fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E, K) need the presence of fatty molecules for proper absorption in the body. Omega-3s and essential fatty acids are vital for many bodily functions including brain health, which is why it is important to make sure you include them into your scheduled diet. Healthy fats also aid a healthy metabolism, whilst helping you feel fuller for longer.
Healthy fats and Omega-3 rich foods to include:
Fibre can help cut craving whilst keeping blood sugar levels in check. Additionally, when you change or adjust the schedule of your diet, your bowel movements might alter. Make sure to incorporate fibre rich foods into your diet to help you keep things running smoothly…no pun intended.
Fibre rich foods to include:
In order to provide your body with the adequate nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs, consuming probiotics (via foods or supplements) is ideal when you fast. Probiotics have also been shown to help regulate mood which can be subject to fluctuation when starting you intermittent fasting journey.
If you are considering trying intermittent fasting, we strongly recommend that you consult with your primary care practitioner beforehand.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. You should stay clear if you:
Are under the age of 18
Have or are suffering with an eating disorder
Are pregnant or breastfeeding
Have blood sugar abnormalities
We hope that these tips help you on your journey if you are considering intermittent fasting.
As always, we wish you the best, and hope that this information will bring you a little closer to an improved, healthier and happier version of yourself.
POW Team x
Sources: US National Library of Medicine, John Hopkins Private Research University