Intermittent fasting is one of the easiest practices you can adopt for improving your health. Sure, it can take some will power and the ability to deal with mild hunger and discomfort, but the benefits of intermittent fasting are well worth it.
There are multiple ways to fast and many studies backing the multitude of benefits to your health. However, if you’re interested in starting a fasting protocol, it is always best to experiment with different methods to determine which method works best for you. It is also a good idea to check with your physician to ensure it is safe for you to fast; especially if you have a health condition or are taking medications.
Here are some of the most common forms of intermittent fasting:
Time Restricted Eating:
Most people who follow this type of intermittent fasting protocol do so by fasting for 16 hours daily and then eat only with in an 8 hour window.
This is by far the most common intermittent fasting protocol as it is easiest for most people simple stop eating after dinner and skip breakfast or push breakfast back to 10 or 11 am.
A few years ago author Brad Pilon developed the Eat-Stop-Eat protocol and it took off due to the shear number of people who were experiencing amazing improvements in their health from it. In a nutshell; the Eat-Stop-Eat system requires to you fast one or two days a week for up to 24 hours. The other 5 to 6 days of the week you can eat when you want.
What you can consume during an intermittent fast?
Dry Fasts – No food, water or beverages of any kind
Water Only Fasts – Water, black coffee, or unsweetened tea
5 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Benefit of Intermittent Fasting #1: Weight and Fat Loss
The primary reason most people begin intermittent fasting is to help reduce unwanted body fat. The is probably the most obvious benefit of intermittent fasting.
The idea behind all intermittent fasting protocols is that during the fasting period your body does not have a readily available source of calories, so it is forced to convert stored fat into energy to keep you moving.
Done consistently overtime, intermittent fasting can produce rapid weight loss. One study conducted on the Time Restricted Eating protocol showed significant losses in body fat, without reducing lean muscle or strength.
Benefit of Intermittent Fasting #2: Improved Blood Sugar
This benefit of intermittent fasting is something that is a plus for anyone struggling with borderline diabetes.
During an intermittent fast your body uses up all available glycogen (excess sugar) before breaking down fat for energy.
Several studies have shown intermittent fasting benefits to be incredibly beneficial for preventing spikes in blood sugar and helping to reduce insulin sensitivity.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting #3: Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Intermittent fasting may be a powerful tool for preventing heart disease by helping the body metabolize and reduce one of the most controversial heart disease markers: Cholesterol.
This benefit of intermittent fasting was shown in one study that look at individuals post Ramadan to see if there were any significant changes in blood chemistry.
What the study showed was that participants experienced an increase in HDL (Good Cholesterol) and a corresponding decrease in LDL (Bad Cholesterol) and Triglyceride levels.
Benefit of Intermittent Fasting #4: Reduced Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response of the body designed to protect tissues the body detects as being damaged. However, too much inflammation can cause immune system problems and other chronic conditions.
Too much of the wrong types of food (e.g., processed) is one of the primary causes of inflammation in the body.
A similar study to the one on heart health showed similar reductions in inflammatory cytokines following a prolonged period of fasting. This is positive confirmation that intermittent fasting may be a powerful tool against preventing disease.
Benefit of Intermittent Fasting #5: It’s Anti-Aging
One study conducted on time restricted eating and intermittent fasting showed a significant increase in growth hormone levels which may help slow the aging process.
Further, other studies have shown that when combined with regular strength training, intermittent fasting can significantly improve health markers associated with healthy aging
How To Start Intermittent Fasting
The easiest way to start experiencing the benefits of intermittent fasting is to make it a daily ritual and to use the Time Restricted Eating method where you fast for 16-18 hours each morning.
For beginners, this is easier to adjust to than immediately jumping in and fasting for 24 hours or more.
As you start your fasting protocol, listen to your body as it adjusts to its new schedule. The first few days may seem turbulent, but that will pass once your body realigns. Again, check with your doctor first to ensure this type of eating schedule is safe for you.
No one wants to pass out in the middle of a presentation because of an intermittent fast. Explaining crazy health practices to co-workers and friends is never easy.
Who should think twice about Intermittent Fasting?
Note: this is not an all inclusive list, so consult your doctor
- People with a history of low blood sugar issues
- People with a history of eating disorders
- Women who are pregnant or nursing
Tips for Enhancing the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Plan your workouts during your morning fast to increase the calorie burn
- Consume nutrient dense superfood powder like Pine Pollen or Spirulina with lemon and water if needed. This won’t kill your fast and will provide your body with valuable micronutrients
- Only water fast for 24 hours or more when you know when your energy needs are minimal; e.g., on the weekend
Conclusion: Intermittent fasting benefits are robust and easy to experience. All it takes is a willingness to skip a few meals. Intermittent fasting is an easy way to burn excess fat and is believed to be an incredible tool for preventing chronic disease and improving longevity, strength and overall health.