Fasting has increasingly gained popularity for its several health benefits, one of which is weight loss. While several cultures and religions have followed fasting for spiritual benefits, its health and spiritual benefits are undeniable. In recent times, one of the easiest ways to include fasting in your lifestyle is to follow intermittent fasting.
If it’s done correctly, intermittent fasting can offer several benefits to your health, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetics, reduced weight and fat, the reversal of liver disease, and a whole host of other things.
Intermittent fasting is based on the theory that eating only during the fasting window and fasting for the rest of the day can lead the body to slow down, heal itself, and burn more calories. It’s also effective for cleansing and detoxification purposes.
In this article, we discuss four benefits of practicing intermittent fasting:
- Fasting Helps With Weight Loss
Fasting may help you lose weight by simply reducing the intake of calories from food. Studies have shown that fasting may also help boost your metabolism since it increases the number of neurotransmitters, specifically norepinephrine, which is a hormone that aids in weight loss. Fasting also helps prevent muscle loss.
In intermittent fasting, you’re depriving your body of regular calorie intake. Since your body doesn’t have enough glucose to burn, it shifts to using stored fat as fuel. Thus, your body shifts to burning fat for energy once the glucose storage is depleted. This often happens within 12 hours of fasting. As your body enters ketosis, you shift to the fat-burning mode and there’s a significant increase in the number of ketones in your bloodstream.
Deprived of nutrients, ketones signal your body to work on stress mode, leading to reduced inflammation and repairing DNA. Within 24 hours, the cells in your body are increasingly recycling older cells by removing damaged cellular components and creating new cells, which is autophagy. This process is important for weight loss as well as tissue and cellular transformation. Thus, ensuring weight loss and overall rejuvenation.
- Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity
When you’re fasting, the body’s cells go into a survival mode, which results in a reduction of insulin that the body would normally produce. When you’re fasting, you’re not getting any kind of calories from food, so this reduces the consumption of fat and calories.
By fasting, your body’s cells get rid of excess glucose stored in them. The increased production of insulin and glucose in the bloodstream is known as insulin resistance or insulin sensitivity. By fasting, you allow the blood sugar level to stabilize and prevent the production of insulin, which prevents diabetes and other illnesses related to the lack of insulin in the blood.
While fasting, as your body’s sensitivity to insulin increases, it helps improve the transportation of glucose from your bloodstream to the cells. This helps keep your blood sugar steady, preventing spikes in your blood sugar levels.
Several studies suggest that intermittent fasting has been beneficial in increasing insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes patients.
- Promotes Detoxification And Cellular Purification
As you grow older, your cells don’t optimally regenerate as it used to, which leads to the accumulation of old, cellular waste within the cell, further reducing the optimal functioning of the cells. However, when you’re fasting, your body goes through autophagy.
As mentioned above, autophagy is a process that clears out damaged cellular materials from the cells and inducing cellular repair. Autophagy is said to rejuvenate the mitochondria in the cells. Mitochondria are the cell organelles that handle most of the chemical energy needed to power the cell’s biochemical reactions. This process helps with cellular purification and slows the aging process.
Fasting also promotes detoxification of the body by using up the stored fat for energy. Since toxins are present in every food item, especially processed foods, it’s difficult to avoid them. These toxins often get stored in the fat tissues and may remain in your body for a while. However, when you’re fasting and are nutrient-deprived, your body activates its adaptive stress response that leads to burning fat as fuel to keep the metabolism going.
As the fat is used for fuel by your body, the toxins stored in the fat cells are released in the bloodstream. These toxins are then eliminated from your system through your kidneys, liver, and other organs. Thereby, leading to a detoxified and healthy body.
- Boosts Brain Function
When you’re fasting, your brain releases a hormone known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BNDF activates the stem cells by converting them into neurons and triggers the release of chemicals that are good for the brain’s health. Increased production of BNDF is linked to the prevention of degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
As you fast, your brain’s ability to focus increases. Fasting is also known to improve memory, aid in the recovery of brain injuries, and enhance the growth of new nerve cells.
Today, fasting has become a popular lifestyle choice in the health community. It’s not only a way to lose weight but a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating fasting in your daily life, along with the best supplements, can be an easy way to improve your health. Other than weight loss, fasting is beneficial to increase insulin sensitivity, slow ageing, detoxify your body, improve brain health, improve cardiovascular health, and boost your metabolism.
To start with, you may choose several options of intermittent fasting available–ranging from a 16:8 fast to an alternate day fast. While incorporating intermittent fasting into your daily routine, make sure to include food that’s nutritious and can keep you feeling satiated for a longer period. For optimal results, you may avoid junk and processed food, and follow the fasting plan for a few weeks at least.
Like with everything beneficial, fasting, too, requires discipline and effort. Though it may seem difficult at first, your body will get accustomed to it within a few days. To reap maximum benefits from fasting, it’s advisable to approach it as a lifestyle change rather than a diet for weight loss.