You may not have heard about the concept of intermittent fasting - or perhaps you have heard about it but written it off as just another fad diet. An increasing number of nutrition experts have been advocating this way of eating.

The basic idea of intermittent fasting is that you go through a cycle of eating relatively normally and then fasting. A great deal of research has been done into this type of diet and much of the collected data shows that there are benefits to both the brain and the body when you do this.

So, what benefits can you expect if you give intermittent fasting a try?

Cell Function

When you haven’t consumed any food for a few hours your body will begin to instigate essential repair processes to the cells. A waste removal process, known as autophagy, will begin when fasting is being undertaken. This involves the breakdown of certain unhelpful proteins that will have built up within the cells over time. It has been suggested that regular autophagy can be helpful for protecting against several serious health conditions, such as cancer. 

Hormone Levels

Without the presence of food, your hormone levels will change - and this process can mean that stores of fat in your body become more accessible.

Your insulin levels in particular will drop quite significantly, and this is known to encourage the process of fat burning. Research has also shown that levels of the human growth hormone can be increased when you fast intermittently, and this can in turn facilitate fat loss and muscle gain.

Abdominal Fat

Losing weight is one of the primary reasons that people engage in this type of fasting. Fat in the abdominal area can be some of the hardest to shift, and can often remain even when other positive signs of a good diet and regular exercise have begun to show.

The aforementioned hormonal impact of intermittent fasting contributes to how effective it is at tackling stubborn abdominal fat. However, the potential it has to increase your metabolic rate is also incredibly helpful. The combination of consuming fewer calories and burning more can go a long way to helping decrease fat in this area.

Cardiovascular Health

The health of your heart is so important and heart disease is actually the leading cause of death in the United States.

Preliminary studies on intermittent fasting has shown that it has the potential to reduce certain risk factors associated with heart disease. However, further research certainly needs to be conducted before solid claims can be made.

Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a leading cause of adverse health conditions and also causes the raging process to speed up. Fortunately it is possible to adjust your diet in order to help protect yourself against this issue. Intermittent fasting is believed to be an effective way to help tackle inflammation.

Additionally, studies have shown that this type of fasting can improve how well the body is able to fight back against oxidative damage. This is also helpful for combatting the raging process and the impact of chronic inflammation.

Cognitive Function

Your brain also stands to benefit from incorporating intermittent fasting into your schedule. By improving certain metabolic processes, eating in this way can contribute to how well your brain functions and how quickly you are able to make good decisions. 

Your cognitive function will naturally decline as you age, so it is incredibly important to find ways to support this aspect of yoour health. 

Getting Started

Ready to give intermittent fasting a try? It isn't difficult to get started and all it will require is a schedule and some willpower! There are several different ways to do this and the following are just two of the most popular methods.

The first method is known as the 16/8 method and involves fasting for 16 hours each day. This means that you may eat as normal until say 8pm and then not eat again until 16 hours later, which would be mid-day the following day. You can then continue to eat as normal for the next eight hours, before fasting again for the following 16 hours. 

Another method is known as the 5:2 diet. This involves eating normally for five days out of the week and then restricting your calorie intake to around 500 calories on two of the days. It is generally advised that you do this in the form of two low calorie meals throughout the day. 

However you decide to proceed with this type of eating, the important thing is that you choose to include healthy options and avoid junk food. If you are consuming unhealthy foods during the times when you are eating then you are not going to feel the full benefits of fasting. In fact, you could be causing harm to your body as you are not giving it the nutrients and energy that it needs in order to thrive!

References

1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting#section1

2) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-ways-to-do-intermittent-fasting#section3