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).
It improves your heart health
It promotes cellular repair
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).
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.