A new trend to weight loss & health that is centuries old. It has been around for hundreds of years as part of religious beliefs & ceremonies, used for political statements, medical procedures, and as part of therapy for certain medical conditions: Fasting. It’s when you abstain from food or drink for a certain period of time. But how does it apply to weight loss and your health?

Over the last few years “intermittent fasting” has gained more popularity with athletes, avid gym goers, and those looking to improve their weight.

Intermittent fasting is a far cry from the traditional 24-hour or longer fasts that some individuals put themselves through. With intermittent fasting, you are restricting your food intake to a certain “feeding window” that is usually just six to eight hours.

For example, you restrict yourself from eating any food or calorie-containing beverage from 6pm- 10am. You would have your first meal at 10am and consume healthy foods every few hours until 6pm. This is a 16/8 intermittent fast.

What exactly happens during the intermittent fast?

Let’s take a closer look at some scientific research on intermittent fasting.

Eating causes a spike in insulin levels. During a fast, your insulin levels drop, making it an optimal environment to burn some body fat.

Intermittent fasting is especially beneficial in preventing type 2 diabetes. It improves insulin resistance, helps reduce blood sugar levels, and can protect against kidney damage.

Intermittent fasting causes human growth hormone (HGH) to increase significantly. Higher levels mean fat loss and more muscle.

It also activates the cellular repair process that includes the removal of waste from your cells.

During a fast, the nervous system injects norephinephrine (a hormone & neurotransmitter) into fat cells, allowing them to be used for energy.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve your heart health by improving blood pressure, LDL and total cholesterol, triglycerides, and inflammation affecting the heart.

Based on research, periodic intermittent fasting may protect against disease and increase longevity. This is done by preventing and reducing the oxidative stress, and also through the intermittent fasting’s ability to combat inflammation. Both are key components of common diseases.

Intermittent fasting is also good for your brain. It can help you grow new nerve cells and increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This can help to fight depression and prevent strokes.

As you can see, intermittent fasting has many benefits besides just weight loss.

But benefits of rapid weight loss are what makes intermittent fasting so popular. It is one of the most effective methods to speed up weight loss, far better than just restricting your calories.

Intermittent can be a challenge the first few days but once your body adapts the pounds will melt off.

The hunger cravings most people experience are not actually from hunger per say but from the body’s craving for sugar. As the days pass, the cravings will eventually subside. 

Combined with a product like Almased, intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool in your weight loss arsenal.

 

By: Dan Solomon, RDN, LDN

Sources

References:


1. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):69-73. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15640462

2. J Clin Invest. 1988 Apr; 81(4): 968–975. Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/

3. JAMA. 2002 Nov 13;288(18):2282-92. Growth hormone and sex steroid administration in healthy aged women and men: a randomized controlled trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12425705

4. Autophagy. 2010 Aug 16; 6(6): 702–710. Published online 2010 Aug 14. Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3106288/

5. Aging Res Rev. 2006 Aug; 5(3): 332–353. Published online 2006 Aug 8. Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2622429/

6. Br J Nutr. 2013 Oct;110(8):1534-47. The effect of intermittent energy and carbohydrate restriction v. daily energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers in overweight women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23591120

7. Study finds routine periodic fasting is good for your health, and your heart. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-04/imc-sfr033111.php

8. Journal of Neurochemistry Volume 80, Issue 3, pages 539–547, February 2002. Dietary restriction enhances neurotrophin expression and neurogenesis in the hippocampus of adult mice. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.0022-3042.2001.00747.x/abstract

9. Annu Rev Nutr. 2005;25:237-60. Energy intake, meal frequency, and health: a neurobiological perspective. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16011467

10. J Gerontol (1983) 38 (1): 36-45. Differential Effects of Intermittent Feeding and Voluntary Exercise on Body Weight and Lifespan in Adult Rats. http://geronj.oxfordjournals.org/content/38/1/36.short


 

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