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10 science-based benefits of intermittent fasting

by | Mar 31, 2020 | Medical, Mind, Nutrition

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that includes intermittent periods of fasting and eating. There are various methods to do it, and one of the most popular is the 16/8 protocol. But why should we consider changing our current eating pattern?

In this article, we will discuss 10 science-based benefits that will contribute to making the decision

It changes the way cells work

Fasting triggers a few changes in your cells. For example:

  • Insulin levels drop, favoring fat burning (1)
  • Growth hormone levels increase (2, 3). Higher levels support fat burning and muscle gain (4, 5)
  • The body removes metabolic waste faster (6).
  • Beneficial genes are expressed that protect us against disease (7, 8)

It is useful for weight loss

It is a fitting strategy to lose weight because you always end up eating fewer calories (9). Hormone function is also modulated to lose weight faster, as mentioned above. As a result, intermittent fasting increases the resting metabolic rate by up to 14% (10, 11).

It reduces your calories in, increases your calories out, and that’s why it causes up to 8% of weight loss in 3-24 weeks (12). In doing so, intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than other calorie restriction methods (13).

It improves insulin metabolism

In type 2 diabetes, patients have significant insulin resistance, which is enhanced with intermittent fasting, reducing their blood sugar levels by up to 6% and their insulin by up to 31% (12). It also protects against kidney damage, a complication of diabetes (14).

It apparently works better for males than females, according to studies (15).

It reduces oxidative stress and inflammation

Oxidative stress is a leading cause of chronic disease (16). Free radicals react with cell structures, causing damage (17), but through intermittent fasting, we can protect the body against this influence (18, 19).

The same is true with inflammation, which is reduced after starting with intermittent fasting (20, 21, 22).

It improves your heart health

Heart problems are a significant source of mortality (23), but intermittent fasting reduces various risk factors at the same time and reduces their incidence (12, 24, 25, 26).

It promotes cellular repair

During fasting, the body removes metabolic waste faster through autophagy (7, 27). This process reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and some types of cancer (28, 29).

It may help to prevent cancer

In cancer, cells grow without restraint, but animal models suggest that intermittent fasting prevents some types of cancer (30, 31, 32, 33). In human patients with cancer, intermittent fasting improves the side effects of certain types of chemotherapy (34).

It contributes to brain health

Intermittent fasting improves your brain health by activating various metabolic pathways, including a reduction of inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance. Animal studies show that intermittent fasting may contribute to growing new brain cells (35, 36).

Intermittent fasting contributes to increasing the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (35, 37, 38), an important hormone that reduces the symptoms of depression and other mental health problems (39).

It prevents Alzheimer’s disease

There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but intermittent fasting may delay the onset of this disease (40). Moreover, according to case reports, it may also improve the symptoms of these patients (41). A similar protective effect is also reported in Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease (42, 43).

It may prolong your lifespan

Studies of intermittent fasting in rats suggest that this protocol extends the lifespan (44, 45) by up to 83% (46). Thus, it has become trendy among people who want to live a longer and healthier life. Since intermittent fasting reduces a significant number of health problems, it makes sense that the same lifespan benefits found in rats also apply to humans.

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