If you’ve been keeping up with the latest innovations for weight loss and overall health, then you have likely heard of intermittent fasting. Essentially, it’s a way of eating that involves cycling between periods of time in which you’re eating and periods of time in which you’re fasting. There are numerous studies that have shown it can have significant benefits for the human brain and body.
Whether you practice more long-term fasting for health reasons or for spiritual reasons, most people will have to fast at some point for medical reasons. Since fasting is often incorporated as a lifestyle change instead of a temporary fix, this type of diet is much more sustainable than many other “crash diets.”
Benefits of Fasting
There are a number of things that happen any time you go a certain amount of time without eating. Your blood insulin levels drop, which encourages fat burning, your body increases cellular repair throughout your body, the amount of growth hormone can increase by as much as five percent, which encourages fat burning and muscle gain, changes occur in several genes that are tied to longevity.
Lower Weight and Belly Fat
Fasting results in fewer calories eaten. It’s also been shown to slightly boost the metabolism. When you combine those two factors, you get a very effective way to lose pounds and belly fat.
Lower Insulin Resistance
Fasting has been shown to lower insulin resistance at the same time it lowers blood sugar levels. This is great news for people with diabetes.
Fasting can have the effect of lower oxidative damage as well as inflammation. This can help lower the chances of getting a number of diseases and medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease. It may also have benefits to reduce the signs of aging.
Can Result in Cells Repairing Themselves Faster
Fasting has been shown to trigger a specific metabolic pathway, otherwise known as autophagy. It can help get rid of waste material from cells, which allows them to repair themselves faster.
Lower Chance of Getting Cancer
While the jury is still out on how this can affect humans, studies have shown that animals have a lower chance of developing a number of different cancer types if they engage in intermittent fasting.
Positive Impact on Your Brain
Fasting can help encourage new neurons to grow in the brain. Studies have also shown that fasting can help prevent the brain from being damaged.
How to do the Fasting Right
If you do give fasting a try, keep these general tips in mind:
Drink plenty of water. Staying well hydrated will make the fasting periods much easier to get through.
Fast overnight. Throw yourself a bone and aim to fast through the night. That way, you’re (hopefully) sleeping during at least eight of those hours.
Rewire your thought process.Think of fasting as taking a break from eating not as a period of deprivation. It can be a way to break up the monotony of worrying about what you need to eat next and when. This is the mindset that will allow you do follow a fasting plan long-term.
Over Commit. It may seem counterintuitive, but the best plan is often to start when you’re busy — not on a day when you’ll be sitting on the couch wanting to snack.
Hit the gym. Pairing intermittent fasting with consistent exercise will help you get better results. “It doesn’t have to be hardcore or crazy. It can be something as simple as a full-body strength training routine two or three times per week.