There are different types of diets that help to improve health but these diets don’t allow you to eat all kinds of foods, these diets restrict you from eating your favorite foods. There is an eating or fasting pattern that does not restrict eating any kind of food known as “Intermittent fasting”.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it is a pattern of eating or fasting.
It’s a method for planning your meals with the goal that you benefit from them. Discontinuous/intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat.
How does IF work?
Intermittent fasting and eating patterns work in 2 different ways.
- Intermittent fasting reduces the levels of insulin, a hormone involved in the regulation of blood sugar. Decreased levels can maximize fat burning to promote weight loss.
2. Intermittent fasting increases the levels of nor-epinephrine, a hormone, and neurotransmitter that boosts up your metabolism to increase calorie burning all over the day.
What are the types/methods of intermittent fasting?
There are 3 different methods of intermittent fasting:
- Alternate-day fasting
- Complete alternate-day fasting
- Modified alternate-day fasting
- Periodic fasting (Eat-stop-Eat)
- Daily time-restricted feeding
- Alternate-day fasting:
Alternate day fasting is a method where a non-fasting day(normal eating-day) followed by fasting day. Alternate-day fasting is a supreme form of intermittent fasting, and it may not be reasonable for beginners or those with certain medical conditions. It may also be hard to keep up this type of fasting in the long term. There are 2 sub-types of alternate-day fasting:
1. Complete alternate-day fasting: No calories are consumed on a fast day.
2. Modified alternate-day fasting: A person eats 25% of usual energy needs on a fast day.
- Periodic fasting (Eat-Stop-Eat):
Periodic fasting includes any period of successive fasting more than 24 hours, for example, 5:2 diet, it’s a type of fasting plan where you eat normally 5 days and fast any 2 days a week.
During the 2 fasting days, women generally consume 500 and men 600 calories instead of complete fasting.
- Daily time-restricted feeding:
Daily time-restricted feeding involves eating just during a specific number of hours every day. It is also called the 16:8 method or the Lean gains diet-16 fasting hours cycled by 8 non-fasting hours. This timetable is thought to use the circadian rhythm.
What are the health benefits of intermittent fasting?
There are many following benefits of IF:
- Weight loss, fat loss:
Numerous studies showed that intermittent fasting leads to greater weight loss and fat loss in people with obesity than regular calorie restriction, for example, Intermittent fasting can decrease weight by up to 8% and reduce body fat by up to 16% over 3–12 weeks.
Several researches showed that intermittent fasting can help your body to maintain muscle mass (less muscle loss) more efficiently than the standard method of continuous calorie restriction, which is more fascinating about intermittent fasting.
Several studies showed that intermittent fasting may encourage weight loss through the following mechanisms:
1. Restricting your meals and snacks to an exacting time window may normally decrease your calorie intake, which can help weight loss.
2. Prolonged high levels of insulin can lead to dyslipidemia and obesity. Intermittent fasting reduces the levels of insulin and decreased levels of insulin can maximize fat burning to promote weight loss.
3. Intermittent fasting increases the levels of norepinephrine that boosts up your metabolism to increase calorie burning all over the day.
- Prevents heart diseases and improves heart health:
Intermittent fasting has cardioprotective effects which lower the risk factors that are responsible for heart diseases such as, bad LDL cholesterol (20-25%), blood triglycerides (up to 30%), blood pressure, inflammatory markers, blood sugar, insulin resistance, and body weight, ultimately IF protects the heart from different diseases.
An investigation was conducted in 16 obese people who were at high risk of heart diseases because of high blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, triacylglycerol, and total cholesterol levels. The results after 8 weeks showed a significant reduction in all these factors and ultimately reduced risks of heart diseases.
Another study was conducted in 110 patients (77 females; 33 males); age 34-40; body weight 129-131 or plus; BMI 45.5 plus. These patients were hospitalized for 3 weeks for the treatment of the utmost obesity with a strict fasting diet. The blood pressure, lipid profile as well as parameters of glucoregulation including glycaemia, insulinaemia, and insulin sensitivity were evaluated at the beginning, during and at the end of the study.
The results after 3 weeks showed a remarkable decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, basal glycemia, and insulinemia.
- Protects against type 2 diabetes:
Intermittent fasting lowers insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar and fasting insulin levels, which protects against type 2 diabetes. It also helps in losing weight which is a risking factor for type 2 diabetes.
A study was conducted in 10 patients of type 2 diabetes and the result showed that intermittent fasting helped significantly decrease blood sugar levels and body weight.
Another investigation conducted in the Intensive Dietary Management clinic with three type 2 diabetes patients. The results showed the efficacy of therapeutic fasting to decrease their insulin resistance, termination of insulin therapy while keeping up control of their blood sugars. Likewise, these patients were also able to lose remarkable numbers of body weight, reduce their body waist and also reduce their glycated hemoglobin level.
- Prevents cancers and lowers cancer risks:
Intermittent fasting prevents cancers and lowers the risks of cancers by stimulating different processes such as autophagy, short-term starvation, and also stimulates the effects like antioxidants.
Intermittent fasting stimulates a process called autophagy which degrades and recycles the old or damaged parts of the body cells such as, misfolded protein, cell organelles (mitochondria, peroxisomes, and endoplasmic reticulum), and promotes cessation of cell division, presentation of surface antigen, protects against genome instability and prevents necrosis, all these functions of autophagy helps in preventing cancer and many other diseases such as, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, liver disease, neurodegeneration, and autoimmune diseases.
Intermittent fasting is itself a short-term starvation process that promotes starvation and retard the growth of tumor cells as well as promotes stress and apoptosis (cell death) in tumor cells. IF is a treatment for many types of cancers which protects the normal cells from harmful side effects of chemotherapy drugs and helps to get rid of tumor cells. Intermittent fasting also increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.
Intermittent fasting exerts antioxidant like effect that significantly decreases in the mitochondrial generation of reactive oxygen species (cancer-causing agents) and ultimately lowers the risks of cancer.
- Improves brain health:
Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor that helps the growth of new nerve cells and increases the resistance of neurons in the brain to dysfunction and degeneration. It also protects against Alzheimer’s disease (Neurodegerative disease), ameliorates brain health by improving brain structures, synaptic functions, and age-related deficits in cognitive functions through different ways such as, increasing BDNF, protein chaperone, autophagy, reducing oxidative damage, and increasing stress resistance.
- Anti-inflammatory effects :
Several studies showed that IF reduces inflammatory markers and improves many inflammatory and chronic diseases.
- Antibiotic effects: IF promotes autophagy that helps to eliminate intracellular pathogens.
- Extends life span/lengthens life span:
Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan and inhibit the occurrence of many age-associated diseases. IF exerts anti-aging effect by mechanisms such as reducing oxidative stress, enhancing the activities of antioxidant enzymes catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide, and down-regulating/down-streaming insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling (IIS) pathway. IF promotes autophagy that’s another anti-aging factor.
Anti-aging effects of intermittent fasting have been shown in several studies on rats and they were lived 36–83% longer on IF diet pattern than other rats that were included in the studies.
Another study was conducted in fishes with IF and without IF, results with IF showed the extended lifespan of the fishes.
How does IF work and wight loss:
Type 2 diabetes: