Four science-backed benefits of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a term used to describe a variety of eating patterns that have alternating periods of fasting — abstinence from foods — and eating.
Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting are attributed to daily fasting periods of no less than 12 hours, although some research suggests that a minimum of 16 hours of fasting may be required.
Generally, during 12–36 hours of uninterrupted fasting, the liver glycogen stores become depleted, overall metabolic processes are altered, and positive health effects are observed.
By contrast, a growing body of research suggests that eating for lengthy periods in the day, ranging from 12–15 hours, increases the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Here are some of the science-backed benefits of intermittent fasting.
1. Improved cholesterol levels
Findings across animal and human research show favorable changes in cholesterol levels.
Intermittent fasting has the potential to reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol.
Elevated total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are risk factors for heart disease.
2. Blood sugar control
Intermittent fasting can improve blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance, and increasing insulin sensitivity.
This results in lower fasting blood sugar and glycated hemoglobin levels.
In fact, experimental research in adult males with type 2 diabetes showed the potential for intermittent fasting as a therapeutic approach that may reduce the need for insulin therapy.
3. Changes in body composition
Changes in body weight and composition are among the most studied effects of intermittent fasting.
Several studies have shown that weight loss of between 3–7% body weight in an average of 8 weeks was achievable through intermittent fasting. Research also noted that this method could result in fat loss.
Fasting in a 14:10 pattern — an eating window of 10 hours and a daily fast of 14 hours — can act on the risk factors of metabolic syndrome, including by reducing waist circumference, body fat percentage, and visceral fat.
Intermittent fasting can thus ease metabolic syndrome, a set of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
4. Other health benefits
A 2015 review of 2,650 adult females indicated that reducing calorie intake in the evenings, and fasting for longer periods at night, may lower inflammation and the risk of breast cancer and other inflammatory conditions.
Observational research of 26,092 adult males over a 16-year period suggested that reducing late-night eating through time-restricted eating may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Other areas of health that intermittent fasting is being explored in include longevity and neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
Source: Medical News Today