What is intermittent fasting all about?

Intermittent fasting, or IF, is a cyclic eating pattern that has been gaining massive traction over the past few years.

Despite the emergence of new dietary trends on a daily basis, intermittent fasting continues to be one of the most popular diets on the planet.

Perhaps the major factor that made this diet this popular is its non-restrictive nature, which means that people are not mandated to starve themselves or exclude a primary macronutrient from their meals.

All you need to do is consume foods during a certain period then fast for the rest of the day. While you are in the non-fasting time-windows, there are no restrictions on the type or amount of food you’re allowed to eat, which is an appealing concept for most people.

At first, this concept may seem too simplistic, however, the weight loss and positive health benefits that result from intermittent fasting are unequivocal.

In this article, we will cover the major benefits supported by clinical studies.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

1. Weight loss – This is the main reason people start intermittent fasting as it could lead to rapid weight loss.

When researchers studied this phenomenon to get a full grasp of the underlying mechanisms, they found that intermittent fasting-related weight loss is due to caloric deficit, efficient hormonal regulation, and decreased insulin resistance.

Moreover, the basal metabolic rate (BMR) in people on the intermittent fasting diet significantly increased.

If you’re not familiar with BMR, it is a parameter used by nutritionists and fitness experts to estimate how many calories your body needs per day to keep the organs functioning.

This parameter is subject to numerous factors, including age, gender, weight, height, body type, diet, degree of physical activity, and genetics.

Unfortunately, most diets slow down BMR, which decreases the rate of weight loss. Fortunately, intermittent fasting seems to be the exception to this rule.

2. Decreased insulin resistance – Insulin resistance is a major cause of weight gain and obesity.

Fortunately, several studies concluded that intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity and helps in the regulation of blood sugar levels.

These findings suggest that intermittent fasting is quite beneficial for pre-diabetic individuals and people looking to improve their fitness.

3. Improved cardiovascular health – Intermittent fasting increases the efficiency of cardiac function and reduces the risk of diseases, such as coronary artery disease (CAD).

This will allow you to be more efficient during exercises to reach optimal performance and increase the degree of weight loss.

4. Decreased risk of some cancers – Cancer is a debilitating disease that’s responsible for taking millions of lives every year. The primary pathological feature of cancer is the uncontrolled growth of rogue cells, which leads to the compression and destruction of adjacent tissues.

Interestingly, IF showed impressive results in slowing down the growth of tumors and preventing them altogether.

Note that the conducted studies tested laboratory animals (e.g., rats), which means that we cannot generalize these findings for humans. However, the preliminary results are quite promising.

The limits of intermittent fasting

Perhaps the most obvious limitation of intermittent fasting is the slowdown of weight loss over time as you hit a plateau.

Similar to other diets, the long-term benefits and adverse effects of IF have not been studied sufficiently, which is why people should approach this diet with caution.

For instance, instead of adopting IF as a new lifestyle, you might use it as a tool to jumpstart your weight loss journey.

Take-home message

Intermittent fasting is a fantastic diet that offers a myriad of health benefits, including –and not exclusive to– the ones listed above.

As researchers conduct more experiments, they keep uncovering new positive health effects of this diet. With that being said, beginners should approach it with caution to avoid any unnecessary adverse effects.

If you still have any questions about intermittent fasting or its benefits, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below.