Intermittent fasting has become quite popular in the health club communities. It has amazing rewards and doesn’t have to be continued for long term periods to reap the benefits. The plan can be creative with restricting food for different periods of time to enjoy health paybacks. Although, it is not for everyone such as some individuals who have a medical condition, those who are pregnant or are taking medication. If one is unsure, they should check with their health care practitioner.
What is intermittent fasting?
It is a creative way to cut food for the purposes of losing weight, improving health and bringing simplicity to a busy lifestyle. It is a way of cycling between eating and restricting food. There is no particular foods that are cut out of the diet, rather making a plan as to when to eat or not. Choosing high nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, healthy grains and low fat protein sources are important when not fasting. During this type of fast a person will drink plenty of water and little to no calorie beverages such as broth, tea, and if able to tolerate, apple cider vinegar.
Some of the ways intermittent fasting is performed:
- Fasting for 2 days and then regular eating for a 5 days
- 24 hour fasting once or twice a month
- Fast during the day and have a regular sized meal at dinner
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Many studies show that it can have powerful effects on your body and brain and may even help you live longer. Some individuals include it in their lifestyle for weight management, for health and to simplify to their lives with less cooking or eating out. Fasting is also used for spiritual purposes with prayer.
If a person is restricting their food intake such as in intermittent fasting, where do they get their energy?
In humans, sugar is stored in the liver as glycogen. Normally when one fasts between 12 to 24 hours, there is around a 20% reduction in blood glucose and a decrease in liver glycogen (Longo VD, et al 2014). Ketone bodies and free fatty acids from fat are used as energy. It would vary if a person participates in physical activity.
It has been shown that intermittent fasting has a positive effect on brain function and energy metabolism because it changes brain neuron activity.
The focused parts of the brain that are influenced are the hippocampus, which regulates cognitive function; the hypothalamus, which regulates food intake and body temperature; the striatum involved in motor control of body movement, and the brainstem, involved in regulating both the digestive and cardiovascular systems.
Energy metabolism of all the organs receives input from the brain and promotes acetylcholine, a brain neurotransmitter involved in cognitive function and memory.
Intermittent fasting benefits:
- Shown to improve the gastrointestinal tract motion important for digestion.
- Positive effect on blood pressure and heart rate
- Promotes insulin sensitivity, reduces oxidative stress
- Positive effect on the inflammatory response in the body.
- Promotes fat breakdown by removing glycogen from liver cells, promoting ketone bodies to reduce body fat.
- Promotes weight management
- Promotes longevity
One human study demonstrated that intermittent fasting reduced 3 to 8% weight and reduced waistline measurements over a period of time (Barnoskya AR et al, 2014) .
Intermittent fasting is a wonderful way to improve health and simplify one’s life. There are many benefits for the brain, digestive and cardiovascular systems and promotes weight management.