Fasting is a part of religious traditions including the Jewish and Muslims. Intermittent fasting is a form of fasting which has recently been gaining a lot of popularity as a weight loss tool. Fasting dates back centuries of years ago and its performed over a 26-72-hour period. When using intermittent fasting to lose weight, you go through periods of eating and fasting that range from a few hours to a few days at a time. Your body also experiences certain changes during fasting which promote good health.
What Happens to Your Body During Fasting?
Even though you’re fasting, your body still needs energy in the form of glucose which is obtained from carbohydrates. The liver and muscle store this glucose then releases it to the bloodstream whenever your body requires it.
However, during fasting, the entire process changes and after eight hours of fasting, the liver uses the last glucose stored. At this point, your body transitions into a fasting mode, a state called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis helps to increase the number of calories the body burns and whenever there aren’t any carbohydrates coming in, the body makes its own glucose from fat.
When the body runs out of energy sources, fasting mode turns into starvation mode, whereby the body’s metabolism slows down and it begins to burn muscle tissues for energy. For one to get to starvation mode, it means that they have gone for consecutive days or even weeks without food. However, for those who break from fasting after 24 hours, then they are safe to go without food for a day unless one has some health issues.
Benefits of Fasting
Fasting generally has more positive results as compared to the negatives. Your overall health is improved together with your digestive system. Fasting benefits are as follows:
Improves Health by Fighting Inflammation
Inflammation is responsible for the development of chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. These are serious health consequences that need immediate attention. A study of 50 healthy adults showed that intermittent fasting decreased levels of inflammation markers. Additionally, a small study found the same result when people fasted for 12 hours a day for one month. In addition to that, an animal study discovered that following a very low-calorie diet to mimic the effects of fasting decreases the level of inflammation which is beneficial in treating multiple sclerosis.
Improves Heart Health
Heart disease accounts for 32.5% of deaths globally and can be avoided by simply switching your diet and lifestyle. Also, practicing fasting can be beneficial when it comes to heart health. A study showed that eight weeks of alternate-day fasting reduces bad cholesterol and triglycerides levels by 25% and 32% respectively. What’s more, a study of 110 obese people who fasted for three weeks under supervision found that their levels of blood triglycerides, total cholesterol, and bad cholesterol decreased significantly. There is also a proven connection between fasting and lower risk of coronary artery disease and lower risk of diabetes.
Boosts Brain Function
Although the research is limited to animal studies, fasting has shown to have a powerful effect on brain health. Intermittent fasting for 11 months can improve both brain function and brain structure. Plus, it increases the generation of nerve cells that enhance cognitive function. Since fasting relieves inflammation, it can aid in the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders, thus protecting the brain against conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. However, more human studies are needed.
Promotes Weight Loss
Dieters use fasting as a fast way to lose weight. Studies show that short term fasting can boost metabolism and increase levels of neurotransmitter which enhances weight loss. Theoretically, cutting off certain foods and beverages should decrease the overall calories intake leading to weight loss over time. In fact, a whole day of fasting can reduce body weight by up to 9% while decreasing body fat over 12-24 weeks. One research found that intermittent fasting over 3-12 weeks effectively induced weight loss the same way as continuous calories restriction decreased body weight and fat by 8% and 16% respectively.
Increases Growth Hormone Selection
These hormones are essential for growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength. Fasting naturally increases human growth hormone (HGH). A study of nine men showed that fasting for just two days led to a 5-fold increase in the HGH production rate. Moreover, fasting helps maintain steady blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day which helps to optimize levels of HGH.
The practice of fasting is potentially important to our body’s health. There are several types of fasting which include water fasting, intermittent fasting, and calories fasting, all of which fit nearly every lifestyle. Incorporating fasting to a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle can be beneficial with time.
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