Intermittent Fasting – How it Works
Intermittent fasting refers to an eating strategy that alternates between fasting and eating periods. The goal is to systematically starve the body long enough to trigger fat burning.
This results in weight loss and can help retain muscle mass. Intermittent fasting is a very natural and effective weight management technique.
While research is still underway and intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone, there is evidence that when done correctly, intermittent fasting can help lose weight, lower blood pressure, and cholesterol prevent or control diabetes and improve brain function.
How our bodies store energy
When we eat, carbohydrates or energy in food is broken down into glucose. Glucose is then absorbed through the intestinal wall, into the bloodstream. It is then transported to various organs where it serves as energy.
Glucose is stored in the liver and body tissue in the form of glycogen and fats. It acts as your reserve energy source. When the body is in fasted state, the liver converts glycogen back to glucose to keep supplying the body with energy.
The average inactive person takes about 10 to 12 hours to use up the glycogen stores. Someone who exercises use up their glycogen stores in much less time.
Once the reserve of glycogen in the liver is depleted the body taps into energy stores in adipose tissues. This is when fats are broken down into free fatty acids, which are then converted into additional metabolic fuel in the liver.
If the fasted state lasts long enough, the body burns fat for energy and burns that extra fat. Your body wants to keep hols of those fat reserves as our ancestors needed the energy for survival when we hunted and gathered our food.
How burning fat improves our health
Losing the extra fat is translated into a range of associated health benefits.
Intermittent fasting to reduce diabetes
Insulin is the hormone required for driving glucose into cells. Insulin level is regulated to match the amount of glucose in the blood that is high after a meal and low between meals.
Eating throughout the day keeps insulin levels high. Most of the time, constantly high insulin levels may desensitize body tissues causing insulin insensitivity which leads to prediabetes and diabetes type two.
Fasting helps keep insulin levels low and reducing the risk of diabetes.
Intermittent fasting improves brain health
Fasting also has a beneficial effect on the brain. It exercises the brain the same way physical exercise works our muscles.
Intermittent fasting promotes the production of neurotrophic factors, which support the growth and survival of neurons.
Intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone. Those who should not fast are children, teenagers, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with eating disorders, diabetes type one, advanced diabetes, or serious medical problems.
Intermittent fasting can also be unsafe if overdone, or if not done correctly. There are several approaches to intermittent fasting, but the easiest achieve is perhaps the one that simply extends the usual night time fast. This is a daily fasting cycle of 16 hours followed by an eight hour eating window.
The eating window is usually sustainable for intermittent fasting to be safe and effective. It must be combined with balanced meals that provide good nutrition. It is important to stay hydrated and know your physical limits while fasting the fast must be broken slowly overeating after fast, especially of unhealthy foods must be avoided.
Intermittent fasting is a fantastic way to start losing weight in a natural and healthy way.