For those not familiar with this term, Intermittent fasting is technically not a fast but a diet pattern where you divide your day into two parts, one where you can eat, and one where you can have water but not consume any calories. From an evolutionary perspective, this is nothing new, we humans use to do it anyway during the hunting era. It is just the play of words that makes it sound so new and unfamiliar.
There are many variations of this kind of diet, 16:8 – where you eat for 8 hours a day and fast for the rest 16 hours; 5:2 where you eat normal for 5 days a week and restrict yourself to a maximum of 500- 600 calories/day on the rest 2 days; alternate day fasting and so on. The one that worked wonderfully for me is the 16:8 variant. Coming to its benefits, here is the long list I’ve been waiting to share.
(P.S.-It is day 35 and I have managed to stick to my 16:8 routine; and keeping my fingers crossed for the days to come)
It saves a lot of time: The most unexpected one, of the lot, comes first. I was shocked at how much time I had saved in my first week post starting this diet. It’s just that when you eat for more number of hours, you take a break from work more frequently, invest time in deciding what you want to eat every now and then, and then prep for the same, so, should you choose to go ahead with intermittent fasting, you are going to get a lot of extra time for other stuff.
Aids in weight loss: When the body is in a fasting state, it uses up fats instead of carbs to get energy for basic functioning. The primary reason for the fat burn are the hormonal changes; like an increase in growth hormone and noradrenaline levels; and a reduction in insulin levels. This process of fat utilization leads to a significant weight loss over time.
It cuts down your calorie consumption: This conclusion is derived from the basic math, that, the lesser number of hours you eat, the lesser quantity of foods you will consume, leading to a decrease in calories naturally. Now, let’s just say, this theory can only work if you stay well in control during your eating hours.
Promotes body repair and improves autophagy: In simple terms, autophagy is the process by which the body destroys the damaged cells, which no longer are of any use. Not one, but many studies have proven that this function improves significantly with intermittent fasting. Increased autophagy protects your body from diseases like cancer and dementia.
It protects against type 2 diabetes: The number of type 2 diabetes patients is constantly on the rise. Intermittent fasting reduces insulin resistance significantly, which in turn gets the blood sugar levels to come down. Experiments on rats have also proven that not only does it reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, but reduces damage to the kidney due to high blood sugar levels.
It improves brain health: It comes across as a very interesting benefit, but then again a healthy eating cycle has got to have some impact on brain health. Studies in animals have shown that intermittent fasting improves memory and learning. Some studies have also proven that it reduces the risk of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Now, as much as intermittent fasting is trending, it is very important to note that most of the studies performed with reference to this pattern of diet have been with animals. A review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has stated that it will take a lot more research in order to declare intermittent fasting as a piece of medical advice. As for me, it makes me feel more active, alert and is helping me fit well into my pants too. So I personally do promote it. Bottom line, while we wait for a concrete conclusion, make sure you eat healthily and meet your nutrition requirements well while following Intermittent fasting. Exercise regularly and do not forget to drink your share of water. Happy fasting!