The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting - Report and Content
Intermittent fasting is switching between fasting for prolonged periods and eating the rest of the period, it’s an alternate form of eating and fasting in a day.
There are many ways to do intermittent fasting, you can fast for 24 hours straight twice a week, or fast for 14-16 hours a day and eat only in the 8 hours or so window, or you can fast twice a week by restricting calories to 500 a day.
Though calorie restriction is not considered fasting in literal terms, fasting actually means putting your body in a starvation mode for some hours consecutively.
Though a 24-hour fast is quite aggressive and not everyone is ready to do it, many athletes go by and swear by this method.
People with eating disorders, diabetics, and pregnant women should not try a fast for 24 hours. Thus, fasting done intermittently can be safe for almost everyone.
What science says about intermittent fasting?
Several scientific studies have been conducted on animal models.
However we don’t have long-term and consistent studies on human, studies, and trials on animal models have shown an improvement in basal metabolic rate, weight loss and longevity due to fasting.
Science does acknowledge that fasting is an ancient practice and though it has some benefits, science only relies on evidence, proof, and conclusion.
If it’s marketed as a ‘solve all your health problems” kind of diet then science has a problem with it.
This voluntary abstinence from food and drink for several hours is quite popular in different cultures, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all have some form and type of fasting for devotion.
Intermittent fasting is known to reduce blood glucose and reducing the risk of prediabetes in humans, in numerous studies it has shown to reduce the biomarkers for oxidative stress in the cells
Also helping in the expression of genes that protect against free radicals and thus protect against oxidative damage to the cells and increase longevity.
Fasting for a few days or a few months has shown to help in the reduction of weight and having stable levels of Insulin.
Insulin resistance is a major cause of obesity, diabetes and eating disorders.
Our body while in starvation mode looks for fatty acids deposits in the liver that can be utilized as a source of energy. Cells can refurbish and rejuvenate during the periods of fasting, hence our body can repair itself, naturally.
Skipping meals in a day has been shown to reduce fasting glucose, improvements in HDL compared to LDL cholesterol, and reduction in inflammatory biomarkers, thus there could be improvements in overall heart health due to fasting.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to help in reducing overall weight.
Observational studies conducted on humans have shown similar results, reduction in weight, better focus and memory, better overall skin as a result of lower oxidative stress and following the idea of letting the body heal when it’s not focusing on digestion.
These observational studies were conducted in both men and women. The noted effects were higher in males, and initial mood swings and irritability were also noted.
What is the final verdict on intermittent fasting?
Many studies have by now have proven that intermittent fasting can improve metabolic profiles, reduce the risk of obesity, nonalcoholic fatty acid liver disease, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
It’s important to note that cancerous cells to thrive in a glucose-rich environment, though more studies are needed in this regard.
Fasting is a natural way and form of “ketosis” that utilizes fatty acids in the absence of glucose for cellular energy.
Although most studies are conducted on rodents, and only observational studies have been conducted on humans, we need more scientific proof in this regard.
No harmful side-effects of intermittent fasting have been noted so far, however, long-term studies on humans should be conducted to know of benefits associated with longevity and disease control.
Intermittent fasting is not promoted as a starvation diet done for a few days, it is done long-term to reap and see the benefits of this type of eating lifestyle.
The type of intermittent fasting where you eat during an 8-hour window only can be done long-term and its benefits are tremendous. It’s great if you’re looking to lose weight, or controlling insulin resistance.
Though people with diabetes and on medication should always first consult their GP.
The scientific verdict on fasting is so far very positive, as long as you are willing to take it long-term and not devour on unhealthy foods when you are not fasting.
Fasting is known to reduce the release of CRP reactive protein that is a biomarker for inflammation in the body, low levels of this protein means lower is the inflammation in the body.
Systemic inflammation has been linked to many chronic diseases in recent years, including strokes, heart attacks, depression, and anxiety.
Apart from health benefits, intermittent fasting makes your lifestyle simpler, you do not have to think about cooking or buying your next meal and the focus can be put into constructive work, such as your work assignments, projects, and other commitments.
It’s Easy To Integrate Intermittent Fasting
While eating out has become a lifestyle, make your life simpler by eating only in the 8 hours window.
It can be done by eating your dinner at 8 PM every night and taking your next meal at 12 noon the next day. You can alternate this window according to your own lifestyle and work pattern.
IF is also known to increase cellular resistance, as well as your tolerance and patience, the initial irritability subsides, and you feel more energetic, motivated and an increase in willpower has also been noted.
People, who are obese or have excess fat around the abdomen can greatly benefit from intermittent fasting, and we say it simplifies your lifestyle.
Therefore, start slow and with consistent effort you’d be able to adjust to this fasting lifestyle, make your own research and see what type of fasting works for you, listen to your body and never push against your limits.
What works for someone else may not work for you. With trial and error you’d know what works the best for you, if you think your body is responding well to fasting then go ahead and make it your lifestyle.
Remember, people have been fasting for years and even decades without any adverse side effects, and the side-effects are still very minimal compared to eating an unhealthy diet high in sugar and refined carbs and processed foods, and eating 3-4 times a day.
And eating more in stressful situations, which is again a major cause for unhealthy eating habits.
Fasting will increase your cellular resistance and in some time you’d notice changes in your overall weight, as well as your mood. We recommend intermittent fasting as long as you go with the natural cues of your body and not do anything drastic.
Fasting is great if done properly and backed by some research, but do not fast if you are on medication, pregnant and have eating disorders, in case of pregnancy always consult your GP, first.