In the modern world, weight management has become one of the most controversial topics in the world, millions of people worldwide are struggling to manage their weight. Unsurprisingly, this increased attention towards weight management has sparked numerous trends including dieting methods, exercise regimes, medicines, and supplements. Out of all of these, dieting seems to be a difficult subject to tackle, as a majority of people struggle to stick to a dieting routine for a long time. Still, intermittent fasting seems to be gaining popularity, and people who have achieved their goals with this method, praise it highly. Here are some interesting facts about it:
1. What is Intermittent Fasting?
As the name suggests, it is a form of fasting, but in this, the participant actively chooses how much and when they wish to fast. The most common types of intermittent fasting are:
- 16:8 Method- In this method, out of 24 hours, 16 hours are spent fasting, while the remaining 8 hours are focused on meeting the calorie requirements. It is also the most popular approach to intermittent fasting.
- 5:2 Diet- The 5:2 method allows an individual to consume normally for 5 days, and the remaining two days are spent ingesting only a quarter of the original caloric intake.
- The Warrior Diet- Now, this is an interesting way of eating. According to this diet’s guidelines, a person must consume minuscule amounts of food for 20 hours a day, and the remaining 4 hours must be utilized to eat as many calories as possible. This is considered the most difficult form of intermittent fasting, as people tend to go overboard with the food during the four-hour eating window.
- Eat Stop Eat- In this process, a person simply fasts for one day and eats normally the following day.
- Alternate Day Fasting or ADF- The ADF technique is similar to Eat Stop Eat method; however, here one can fast for as many days as their body allows, and then, eat anything they want on non-fasting days.
2. How is Fasting Beneficial?
Despite it being a modified version of fasting, participants can expect the same benefits as traditional fasting. This begs the question, how does fasting help the body in the first place? The benefits of fasting have been known to mankind for thousands of years, and these are four key changes that occur in the body during fasting:
- Reduced Insulin- Once fasting begins, the amount of insulin in the bloodstream starts to drop as well, which aids in fat burning and diabetes. This occurs due to a lack of glucose in the body.
- Increased HGH- HGH or Human Growth Hormones are elevated during fasting. These are responsible for a quick recovery, therefore, aiding in muscle growth and overall health of the organs.
- Cellular Repair- During fasting, the body starts to burn through the reserves, and this includes waste material from cells as well, resulting in repairing the cells.
- Gene Expression- As it is proven by science that diet and experiences change the genetics of a human being, fasting can modify the gene expression for longevity and increased immunity.
3. Losing Weight
One of the biggest reasons why a majority of people opt for this diet is to lose weight. The primary reason why intermittent fasting helps better than any other method is that it involves actively stopping the consumption instead of picking specific foods. People have an emotional connection with food, and to forsake certain foods can be challenging for them, resulting in failed diets. When people are allowed to eat their favorite food, people tend to enjoy dieting as well, hence, why this technique works.
4. Against Diabetes
Diabetes is one of the most common and troublesome diseases in the world, not only does it put a strain on the body but it also creates an extra mental process for the patients because they need to track what, when, and how much they eat. Thankfully, intermittent fasting can ease this load by lowering the amount of glucose present in the blood. Since carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body, this increases the risk of diabetes, and once the food intake is reduced, so does the levels of glucose and insulin. Moreover, intermittent fasting can also boost insulin sensitivity.
5. Not for Everyone
Undoubtedly, intermittent fasting has tremendous benefits, and a lot of people across the world are trying this approach; however, it is not for everyone. As it forces the body to utilize the reserves, it can have detrimental effects on people who are trying to gain weight. Plus, people suffering from bulimia, can end up purging the food they consumed during the little window that is provided for eating in this method. Additionally, doctors strictly advise against it for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
6. Keep the Muscles
One of the most popular diets, the keto diet is often followed by a huge shock of losing muscle mass that participants experience after a couple of weeks of initiation. This occurs because the body is forced to transition between its energy sources, whereas, in intermittent fasting, consuming regular foods are allowed, which continue to aid in maintaining a good muscle mass. In a study, it was found that nearly 25% of the total mass lost on a restrictive diet was from muscles, compared to only 6% by intermittent fasting.
7. Prevents Cancer
While cancer can occur for many reasons, one of the leading causes of cancer is the excess intake of processed foods. As these take a significant period of time to digest by our body, consuming them every day often results in tumor growths. Intermittent fasting is also known to lower the risk of developing cancer due to food intake. According to experts, when the body is unable to get nutrients, it goes into survival mode, and it alternates between different modes of metabolism, which aid in protection against various diseases, including cancer. Moreover, it was also seen that patients who practiced intermittent fasting, experienced fewer side effects of the chemotherapy.
8. Reduction in Oxidative Stress
When the equilibrium of free radicals and antioxidants is broken in the body, it results in oxidative stress that surfaces as chronic diseases because free radicals attack proteins and DNA. Since oxidative stress is linked with increased body weight, intermittent fasting can provide a significant reduction in oxidative stress. It has been seen that inflammation also slows down during intermittent fasting.
9. Enhanced Brain Function
Different fasting techniques provide different health benefits; however, there’s one similarity in all of them, i.e., enhancing brain function. Intermittent fasting is associated with speeding the growth of new nerve cells, as well as an increased number of neurotrophic factors, a hormone responsible for overall positive mood, and its deficiency is linked with depression and other mental issues.
10. The Not so Positive
While the benefits of intermittent fasting are huge, there are also some downsides to this approach, and these are:
Headache- Experiencing headaches is a part of the transition process; however, some patients have reported experiencing continuous mild headaches for weeks.
Fatigue- Like the previous point, people tend to experience fatigue during intermittent fasting.
Bad Breath- Due to the lack of salivary flow, acetone is increased in the body resulting in bad breath.
Dehydration- As the body experiences starvation, it starts to release water and salt in large amounts leading to dehydration.