You may do a lot of cardio workouts. You may cut calories off your meals. You work so hard, smothering that craving for ice-cream, and eventually, you lose weight! You are proud than you’ve made it, and then months later, you are back to square one again – the weight bounces back, and you have to start all over again. You wonder where you went wrong.
Then you hear people buzzing about how intermittent fasting changes their lives.
For you, it sounds like a whole new routine. You feel uncomfortable with such radical shift in your lifestyle, knowing that doing the same thing won’t give you the result you desire.
What if it’s far easier than you think, with compelling results that can turn your body around?
Do you know that “fasting” has long been a part of your life? There is a reason why the first meal of the day is called “breakfast” – it breaks your fast. This process of not eating for a certain period of time gives your body the time it needs to work things out, which is a really vital process if you want to healthily shred pounds and keep your body youthful.
Let’s take a closer look at how it works, and why you should consider doing the intermittent fasting.
CALORIE RESTRICTION VS INTERMITTENT FASTING
Most people who start calorie restriction or fasting share the same goal: losing weight. However, the way you eat impacts the whole body, not just the undesirable fat. Here are some remarkable differences between two popular types of diets.
CALORIE RESTRICTION INTERMITTENT FASTING
Reducing daily calorie intake Limiting time available for eating
Basal metabolism dropped Basal metabolism maintained
Higher insulin Lower insulin
Feeling hungry more often Feeling hungry less often
Decline in growth hormone Growth hormone boosted
Aging accelerated Aging slowed down
Now, let’s go further into details on how intermittent fasting does the magic.
BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent fasting impacts massively on hormonal change in highly favorable ways, since you give your body time it needs to perform its tasks without any interruption.
“Autophagy”- Reinvigorate Your Body
This could be the most crucial benefit of intermittent fasting, as it is the most effective means to have healthy autophagy, or cell repair and cleaning. Indeed, this maintenance process is very crucial.
Autophagy is an act of a cell eating itself, which may sounds horrifying, but it’s actually very healthful, especially when it comes to delaying aging. Like all things, cells eventually degenerate with time, which cause our body to age. Autophagy is about removing rubbles or toxic ones, and repairing keep-worthy parts. This process of regenerating cells is evolutionarily developed by human’s body to lengthen its lifespan.
Interestingly, aside from keeping your body parts youthful, this renewal of cells benefits your body in a lot of ways such as reducing the risk for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and it could possibly cure cancer.
Starving period activates autophagy, as it causes insulin to drop and glucagon to rise (https://www.dietdoctor.com/renew-body-fasting-autophagy), and glucagon is the peptide hormone that triggers such process. With normal diet routine of eating whenever you feel hungry, your body hardly has time to do the clean-up, leaving your room messy. With intermittent fasting, you can be sure than your room is tidy every day.
Burn Better, Burn Healthier
Contrary to depriving yourself of calories, intermittent fasting does not damage your basal metabolic rate. After a period of lacking of energy, your body eventually enters starvation mode (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/starvation-mode) to protect yourself from further impairment by reducing its metabolic rate, so you won’t “need” as much energy as you did. Even when you finally reach your weight-loss goal and go back to your normal habit (and chances are you will crave for fatty foods more than ever), your basal metabolism won’t bounce back. Calorie restriction does backfire, but intermittent fasting, luckily, does not. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566767/)
There are still ongoing arguments on how intermittent fasting really impacts your basal metabolism over a period of time, so it is not completely proven that it boosts your metabolism, but it’s a huge relief to know that it does not kill your metabolism, right?
Aside from the metabolism thing, the fasting helps your body burn “healthier”. First of all, it switches from carbohydrate-based to fat-based energy used (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3753545/), which literally means you will burn more fat than usual. Another big advantage is you won’t have to starve yourself all day long, so you can take in as much essential sources of energy and nutrients as you want during the compressed eating window period.
Fasting impacts insulin secretion a lot. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar, and it responds directly to our eating habit. It comes out every time you take some food in.
When you consume high-carb food, your blood sugar increases. In response, insulin is released to help telling cells to take this source of energy from the bloodstream, and as a result, your blood sugar becomes lower. If there are still excessive sugar left in your blood stream, insulin will store this energy as glycogen in your liver for future use.
However, once your cells stop responding properly to insulin, this state of “insulin resistance” can be very harmful to your health. With excessive amount of blood sugar, the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease become higher.
As insulin is released each time you eat, your pancreas, the secretor of insulin, has very little time to take some rest, and the insulin has very little time to do its job. Intermittent fasting allows this important hormone to regain healthy work-life balance, so next time around, it carry out the tasks with high-quality performance. (https://simple.life/blog/intermittent-fasting-and-insulin/)
For those who already have the insulin resistance condition, intermittent fasting can help reverse it. There have been therapeutic practices using the fasting method to help curing people with insulin resistance. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6194375/)
Even though you are a fully-grown beautiful adult, you still need to take care of the human growth hormone (HGH), as it is greatly related to muscle growth, cell repair, metabolism – all those vital process to help you get in shape with healthy on-the-inside. Many studies (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/) indicate that intermittent fasting can significantly increase the human growth hormone, which will be very helpful to the process of autophagy, leading to anti-aging effect.
I’m Full and I’m Satisfied!
If you are afraid to start doing IF because you don’t want to be tortured by hunger, think again. What if intermittent fasting works the other way around with your yearning?
Many times, your craving for foods is…emotional, and a lot of times, it is because of your hormones. For hormones, two of the significant players are ghrelin (hunger hormone) and leptin (satiety hormone). Fasting affects these hormones in surprising ways that help lessen your unnecessary hungriness. (https://www.diabetes.co.uk/in-depth/fasting-may-change-bodys-hunger-response-heres/)
Fast for Your Brain
Your brain has a lot to gain from autophagy and an influx of human growth hormone. In addition, fasting helps the release of hormones that fix brain’s inflammation and prevent it from neurodegenerative disease (https://yourholisticpsychologist.com/fasting-for-brain-health/).
AN EASY HOW-TO
The key to keeping your body sound is the ability to maintain healthy habits. If you have made up your mind to fast, intermittent fasting is the easiest one to stick to as you don’t need to torture yourself with hunger all day long. You still get to eat your favorite dishes daily.
Even though intermittent fasting provides you with a myriad of benefits, it is rather easy. It’s simply about knowing “when” to eat.
To optimize fasting, it is important that you should eat nothing with calories AT ALL during the fasting period of the day. Black coffee does not break your fast and can possibly help enhancing the process. Drinking water? Yes, please.
Amid the eating window, there is no restriction on what or how much you should eat, which means you can have as much fried chicken as you want. However, nutrients you take in still impact your health, so it’s far better to pick healthy choices.
If you are a beginner of intermittent fasting, try 12-hour fast first. This window includes your sleeping time, which means you can just finish your dinner early and still be able to fast. Easy, right?
The most common method is the 16:8 diet – 16 hours of fasting with 8 hours of eating window. Most people do this by having dinner early (before 8pm) and skip breakfast. For women, the fasting time can be reduced to 14 hours, so the fast wouldn’t impact their fertility.