5 Health and Fitness Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Weight loss, lower blood pressure and more
Intermittent fasting has become very popular over the past few years.
However, this eating pattern has been around for a long time.
Some people like to do 24-hour fast, then eat normally the next day, while others (like myself) fast for 14-16 hours and have an eating window, 4pm-10pm for example.
Research has shown many benefits such as improving brain functions, delay aging, etc.
Here are 5 health and fitness benefits of intermittent fasting, backed by science:
1. Helps you lose weight and build lean muscle mass
When you're in fasted state human growth hormone (HGH) is high.
Several studies show that human growth hormone plays a major role in muscle growth, strength, weight loss and more.
However, losing weight still requires you to be in a calorie deficit.
Fasting is a powerful to help you naturally be in a calorie deficit, which is required for you to lose weight.
Does that mean you should work out fasted? It depends.
Intermittent fasting can increase your metabolism, preserve lean muscle mass and promote human growth hormone production.
2. Helps reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance
Right after eating, your blood sugar is high.
The insulin hormone is responsible to lower your blood glucose to a stable level.
Insulin resistance is when the body does not respond well to the effect of insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
This can vary between men and women.
Research has shown that fasting could help decrease blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
3. Improves heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Heart disease is a major concern around the globe.
It's important to make lifestyle changes to reduce this risk.
Several studies show that fasting can lower bad cholesterol, blood pressure and fat tissue.
Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool help lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels.
4. Promotes better health by reducing inflammation
Inflammation is a normal process, but it can lead to serious issues if it becomes chronic.
Studies have shown reduced levels of inflammation after fasting for a couple weeks of fasting.
Fasting for 12 hours could reduce inflammation and treat serious conditions.
5. May delay aging
Fasting and exercising have shown to prolong life and/or sustain health.
These activities enhance the body’s defenses against oxidative and metabolic stress and initiates the repair of damaged cells.
Intermittent fasting combined with exercising could help you live longer.
While intermittent fasting has many health and fitness benefits, it's not for everyone.
Talk to your doctor before trying this new pattern of eating.
It's highly recommended not to fast more than 12 hours at first and to stay hydrated.
Avoid intense physical activity when you're fasting for a long period.
For women, it's recommended to take a conservative approach and slowly increase the fasting period based on how you feel.
Intermittent fasting may have affects reproductive health if it's a significant stressor.
Things to monitor while fasting
- Are you able to sleep properly?
- How are your energy levels?
- Do you perform when you work out?
- How's your sex drive?
- Do you feel guilty when breaking your fast too early?
How to start intermittent fasting
- 16/8 method: Skip breakfast, fast for 14-16 hours, then eat for 12-8 hours. Fast from 12am to 12pm, then eat between 12pm and 8pm and finally fast again from 8pm to 12am.
- 5:2 diet: Consume 500-600 calories for 2 non-consecutive days of the week. Then you eat a normal diet on the other 5 days.
I started fasting about a year ago.
Since then, I haven't looked back.
My energy levels are great, I feel more focused when I work, and I'm leaner than ever.
Personally, I do a variation of the 16/8 methods based on how I slept and my training schedule.
Sometimes my first meal is at 2pm and sometimes and 8pm.
Here are a few tips I have for you:
- Start small by just skipping breakfast
- Drink a lot, we tend to confuse thirst for hunger
- Try coffee and tea in moderation
- Don't feel guilty if you break your fast before your eating window
Intermittent fasting is a very powerful tool to help you live a healthy lifestyle.
Try fasting once a month and see how you like it.
Let me know about your fasting experience in the response section below.