Are you ready to integrate a weight-loss plan into your health routine that actually works? Intermittent fasting is a scientifically proven way to not only shed pounds and reduce belly fat, it’s also been shown to extend lifespan, improve brain health, and even help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. This healthy eating habit is simple to implement, especially when you see the weight-loss results you’ve been dreaming of!
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting, also known as time-restricted feeding, involves eating all of your meals within a window of 8 hours or less. That leaves at least 16 hours during which you aren’t eating, which allows your body to devote energy to other things, like repairing cellular damage, reducing inflammation, and balancing hormones — all of which are crucial for weight loss.
You can still eat three meals if you like, you’re just eating them during a shorter time period.
Intermittent fasting might look something like this:
You eat your first meal of the day at 11am. Your second meal happens around 2pm, and your dinner at about 6pm. You finish eating for the day at 7pm. (That means no late-night snacking!) If you repeat that eating schedule the following day, your body will have fasted for 16 hours.
With a regular fasting practice, your body reaps these wonderful health benefits:
1. Intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity and decrease diabetes risk
Intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity due to what’s known as the fed state and the fasted state. The fed state is the period of food absorption and digestion. It lasts for 3-5 hours after you finish eating. During this time, insulin levels are quite high. Next begins the fasted state. This begins 8-12 hours after you finish eating. During the fasted state, your insulin levels are at their lowest.
Insulin resistance occurs when fat accumulates in bodily tissues where fat isn’t supposed to be. Intermittent fasting helps turn these unwanted fatty deposits into energy that our cells can put to good use. These cells then become more sensitive to insulin, which in turn, decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
2. Intermittent fasting decreases inflammation and oxidative stress
Two of the primary causes of degenerative diseases are chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Fortunately for us, a regular intermittent fasting routine helps decrease these two precursors to chronic disease processes. A 2007 study shows how the practice of intermittent fasting works to reduce both inflammation and cellular oxidation.
3. Intermittent fasting improves cognitive function and overall brain health
Another reason to increase the gap between your last meal of the day and first meal upon waking has to do with brain health. Intermittent fasting decreases oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. Improving insulin sensitivity, as intermittent fasting does, also improves cognitive function. What’s more, a hormone in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) also gets a healthy boost when you give your digestive system more time to rest.
4. Intermittent fasting extends lifespan
Looking to live a longer, healthier life? One study conducted on rats shows how intermittent fasting works to support longevity. In addition, another animal study shows rats living 83% longer when intermittent fasting is implemented. Among those who practice calorie restriction to extend their life span, intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular.
5. Intermittent fasting supports hormonal health
Intermittent fasting improves the functioning of hormones. It helps our bodies make higher levels of human growth hormone, which facilitates both fat burning and muscle gain. What’s more, intermittent fasting increases the amount of norepinephrine that’s produced, which also helps the body break down fat, turn it into energy, and increase the metabolism.
6. Intermittent fasting improves heart health
Several studies show intermittent fasting decreases risk of heart disease by way of improving these risk factors: blood sugar levels, inflammation markers, blood triglycerides, blood pressure, and total and LDL cholesterol. The studies conducted primarily on animals offer partial evidence for these claims. Further human studies will need to be done in order to fully prove these heart-healthy outcomes of intermittent fasting.
7. Intermittent fasting may prevent cancer
All of us have been touched by cancer to some degree. Whether we’ve experienced it ourselves or seen a loved one go through grueling cancer treatments, we know that prevention is key. Now, research is indicating that intermittent fasting and other methods of calorie restriction can help prevent malignancies and increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
Intermittent fasting may also reduce some of the more grueling side effects of chemotherapy during cancer treatment, as a 2009 study reveals.
8. Intermittent fasting might prevent Alzheimer’s
With no cure for Alzheimer’s available at this point in time, prevention is key, and intermittent fasting may prove to be one such key! A study using mice shows promising evidence that intermittent fasting can protect against cognitive decline. What’s more, human studies support the idea that intermittent fasting and calorie restriction can help protect neurons from age-related damage.
9. Intermittent fasting promotes cellular repair
Intermittent fasting also initiates a cellular process called autophagy. This is a cellular detox, in which the cells remove waste that builds up over time. The cells break down and then metabolize proteins that have become dysfunctional. Through autophagy, fasting improves cellular function, which may also prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and even cancer.
10. Intermittent fasting promotes weight loss
The practice of intermittent fasting often results in weight loss. This makes sense, because without the mindless late-night snacking, you’ll likely be eating less — and less junk food. But research indicates that it’s actually more complicated than this. Studies indicate that people who practice intermittent fasting often lose weight even when they are consuming the same total number of calories. As indicated above, fasting positively influences a number of processes throughout the body — such as improving insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation — that may help the body release excess fat stores. Which all goes to show that there’s a lot more to weight loss than simply counting calories.
As you can see, intermittent fasting provides us with myriad wonderful health benefits. If the idea of fasting for 16 hours sounds too hard, start slowly and increase your fasting window with time. For example, you could simply try fasting overnight for 12 or 13 hours. Then, as you become accustomed, slowly add more time to your fasting window — until you’re doing a 16-17 hour fast 3-4 times a week.
You can also try different approaches to fasting that don’t require going without food. The ProLon fasting mimicking diet is one such approach. ProLon provides you with all of the food required for a five-day reduced calorie diet that allows your body to enter into a fasting state. ProLon is clinically tested and proven to positively impact cell regeneration, metabolic health, healthy aging, and weight loss.
There are, however, contraindications to intermittent fasting. These include those who already have diabetes and those who have abnormally high cortisol levels. If you fall into one of these categories but want to give intermittent fasting a try, check with your doctor first.
Need help with your health and weight-loss goals? At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss program is designed to address the underlying factors that often make weight loss difficult, including inflammation and hormonal imbalances. Contact us today for your free consultation!