Intermittent fasting or IF is not a diet. It is an eating plan which tells you when to eat and when not to eat. The best of all, it is free and proven to work, by people all around the world, including me.
However, people didn't always fast because they wanted but because they were forced to, due to lack of food.
These kind of obstacles forced our bodies to adapt, by making short-term fasting work for us, instead of against us thereby giving us more time and energy to find food.
Fasting window can last from 16 to 24 and even up to 48 hours, after which the body will start breaking down protein in the muscles, in order to survive.
However, after 48 hours, the function of our immune, cardiovascular and endocrine system slowly becomes compromised, while our energy levels and strength gradually decreases.
INTERMITTENT FASTING FOR FAT LOSS
IF is very effective way to lose weight since it forces the body to use adipose tissue, while increasing growth hormone which helps burn fat. Although you can get great results, by fasting for 16 hours, fasting for entire day can turn your body into fat burning machine.
When it comes to 48 hours fasting, in my opinion, it is overrated and not necessary for 99 % of the population.
It is much easier to fast for 16 or 18 hours per day, especially when you plan the fasting period around sleep. It is like walk in the park. Even if you don't work out or eat the most healthiest food, you can stay lean, thanks to IF.
However, working out on empty stomach, while having a healthy diet and reducing your calorie intake, can give you an amazing results, when it comes to fat loss.
INTERMITTENT FASTING AND HEART DISEASE
While lowering fat percentage, IF can also help reduce cholesterol and especially triglycerides which are used by the body to create energy.
Lower body fat percentage also helps alleviate extra workload put on the kidneys which lowers blood pressure. IF also increases GH production which results in better cardiac function.
It may also put your body into repair mode, by turning on certain genes which help repair damaged tissue. In a time of famine, the body expends less energy, by repairing a cell, rather than creating a new one.
INTERMITTENT FASTING DECREASES THE RISK OF CANCER AND DIABETES
Although you may think that recession and lack of food, due to world wide crisis, may lead to many disease, reality is quite opposite. While people can endanger their health and even die, due to forced and prolonged fasting, the risk of cancer can also go down, if fasting periods aren't too long.
When you eat every few hours, the body secretes IGF-1 and insulin. IGF-1 tells the body to produce new cells. While this can be useful for growing teenagers, it can speed up growth of cancers in adults which is one of the reasons behind high cancer rates in the developed countries.
However, with intermittent fasting you can lower IGF-1 and insulin, as well as improve GH production, insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake from the cells thereby reducing the risk of cancer and diabetes.
INTERMITTENT FASTING IMPROVES BRAIN FUNCTION AND INCREASES ENERGY
Fasting from time to time, seems to boost activity and growth of certain brain cells. Although it may seem strange, it is perfectly logical. In the ancient times, when it was much more difficult to acquire food, our bodies adapted, in order to increase our chances of survival.
During fasting, the body increases activity and growth of neurons which can help us think faster and more creative, while improving our memory, so we can found something to eat.
On the other hand, high fructose processed beverages have shown to make people dumber, while making us fat, at the same time.
I have felt cognitive boosting effect of intermittent fasting but it is the most noticable at the beggining.
Also, improved brain function would mean nothing, if we didn't have enough energy to search or hunt for food. What I am trying to say, is that increase in energy levels is another useful "side effect" of IF.
Changing an eating pattern, from time to time, can actually be a good thing. Holidays are perfect oportunity to take a short break from intermittent fasting and shock your body, by enjoying in big tasty meals, throughout the day.
After all, our ancestors fasted only when they had to but also ate big and often, if the oportunity presented itself.
Only problem today, is that most people abuse the abundance of food that we have today, while some of us die from malnutrition.
When you return to IF, the beneficial effects will be maximized, as if you were just starting to fast. Although our bodies adapted to periods of fasting and overeating, the balance between the two has to be achieved.
However helpful it may be, fasting is not recommended for children, teenagers, pregnant or breastfeeding women. Diabetics should consult with their doctor since in some cases they can benefit from it, while for others, IF can make their condition worse.
You may also notice, that it is much easier to implement intermittent fasting into your daily routine, then to have 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. Besides simplifying the eating part, IF can even improve your health and life span by triggering longevity gene SIRT-1, while improving the output and utilization of energy produced by the mitochondria. Calorie restriction works in a similar fashion.
If you are trying to stay lean, while building muscle with IF, don't forget to consume enough fiber during your eating window, in order to avoid constipation, due to higher protein intake.
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