Intermittent fasting has quickly become a buzz word within the fitness world. This term refers to taking times of fasting and intermittently fitting them into your lifestyle. Some individuals choose to do complete days of fasting, while others fast for a specific number of hours per day. Proponents of intermittent fasting claim that it can aid in weight loss and provide a number of other health benefits as well. Is intermittent fasting legit? Here’s a closer look at what the science says, the ideal way to use this type of fasting, and some of the benefits it has to offer.
What Science Says About Intermittent Fasting
Does science really back up intermittent fasting? A number of studies show that intermittent fasting does offer some positive benefits. One study shows that in men, alternate day fasting had the ability to improve insulin sensitivity. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that alternate day fasting helps to decrease triglyceride levels in men while improving levels of good cholesterol in women. In obese individuals, intermittent fasting has been found to reduce body weight, body fat, total cholesterol, and blood pressure. While some naysayers have worried that this form of fasting would result in a reduction in cognitive performance, mood, sleep, and activity, studies show that these things are not adversely affected by intermittent fasting.
The Ideal Way to Use Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all form. Several different methods are available. For example, the Leangains fasting method involves fasting for 16 (men) or 14 (women) hours per day, then using the remaining hours to eat. The Eat Stop Eat method involves fasting for 24 hours 1-2 times per week on nonconsecutive days. Other methods are also available, so what’s the best way to add intermittent fasting to your life? The best option is to use intermittent fasting in a way that actually fits your lifestyle. If you don’t choose a method that works well for you, you won’t stick to the plan and reap the benefits.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
While fasting has been used for hundreds of years, modern science has now shown that intermittent fasting offers many health benefits, including the following:
Improved Immune Function – When you eat food, the body has to spend energy digesting food, but fasting gives the body a chance to focus energy on regulating the immune system. Some studies have found that individuals dealing with auto-immune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and systemic lupus, have seen symptom improvement when using intermittent fasting.
Increased Fat Loss – Intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool for fat loss. When you’re regularly eating, your body keeps making insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. Unfortunately, insulin can also increase fat storage as well. By fasting from time to time, the body is reset and begins using fat as fuel instead of sugar.
Improved Cognition – Researchers have also reported that intermittent fasting may help to improve cognition. It may specifically help to reduce the decline in brain function that often comes with aging.
Increased Production of Human Growth Hormone – Some research has shown that intermittent fasting can significantly raise the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in the body. This hormone is essential for fitness, health, and slowing down aging within the body. HGH also aids in fat-burning.