Intermittent fasting (IF) has emerged as a safe, natural way to balance your hormones, get leaner, and ward off chronic diseases. Some studies even suggest that fasting may increase lifespan.
This may come up as a surprise, but you’re already fasting without realizing it. If, say, you’re having dinner at 8 PM and breakfast at 8 AM the next day, that’s a 10-hour fast. The word “breakfast” comes from “break” and “fast,” or breaking the fast.
Intermittent fasting results go beyond leanness. This eating pattern can mitigate the effects of free radical damage and slow down aging. It also strengthens your natural defenses and may protect against heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
But how does intermittent fasting work? Most importantly, is it right for you? Let’s find out!
Get the Scoop on Intermittent Fasting
Most people associate IF with the 5:2 diet, but its principles can be applied in various ways. Generally, this dietary pattern alternates between periods of feeding and fasting.
There are no restrictions on what and how much you can eat during the feeding window.
The Warrior Diet, for instance, is a type of intermittent fasting that allows one large meal at night. Dieters can eat anything they want as long as they fast during the day.
The best thing about intermittent fasting is that it fits into any schedule. Depending on your preferences, you can abstain from food from eight to 12 or 24 hours.
For example, you can have dinner at 6 PM and breakfast at 8 AM the next day. That’s a 12-hour fast. Or you can practice alternate-day fasting, which involves eating every other day.
In a 2019 study conducted on subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, those who used alternate-day fasting lose weight within four weeks. Their blood lipids improved too.
As the researchers note, this approach may decrease total body fat and visceral fat mass, as well as LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol levels.
Intermittent fasting results may also include improved sports performance and cardiometabolic health, which brings us to the next point.
How Intermittent Fasting Benefits Your Health
This dietary pattern is increasingly popular among athletes, from CrossFitters to bodybuilders.
As it turns out, abstaining from food may increase testosterone and growth hormone (GH) levels, leading to enhanced physical performance.
In one study, fasting for two days induced a five-fold increase in growth hormone production. Another study has found that intermittent fasting not only raised GH levels but also reduced fat mass and increased lean mass in both men and women.
Growth hormone regulates body composition, strength, and sports performance. If its levels are too low, it may take you longer to recover from training, injuries, and diseases.
Intermittent fasting may also improve cardiovascular health, suggests recent evidence. This approach to nutrition may reduce inflammation, blood pressure, excess fat, and other heart disease markers.
Furthermore, it may benefit those who are at risk for diabetes. In clinical trials, IF has been shown to improve insulin response and scavenge oxidative stress, which are major risk factors for diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
While it’s true that you can eat everything you want during the feeding window, it doesn’t mean you should so. Ideally, reach for whole foods that support optimal health.
Fill on protein, heart-healthy fats, and complex carbs. Get your calories from fish, lean meat, eggs, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and fresh fruits. A bad diet may cancel out the benefits of fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Results: Get Leaner, Stronger, and Healthier
As you see, the benefits of intermittent fasting are backed up by science. This dietary pattern may help you leaner, keep your heart healthy, and bring your hormones back into balance. Plus, it slows down aging and reduces oxidative stress.
Intermittent fasting results vary from one person to another. If you do it right, you’ll have greater energy, lose stubborn fat, and perform better at your sport of choice. Use this approach as part of a balanced diet to fully reap the benefits.
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