Intermittent fasting is currently one of the most popular health trends, helping people to lose weight over the long term. Additionally, research has shown it can have powerful effects on your body and brain and may even help you live longer!
Intermittent fasting cycles between periods of fasting and eating, usually either in a 5:2 pattern (eat normally for 5 days and fast for 2) or 16:8 pattern (fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8 hour window).
Not only does it lead to weight loss, but also cellular repair and improved brain function. Research has shown intermittent fasting also reduces waist circumference, indicating a significant loss of visceral (belly) fat that contributes to disease.
Fasting causes several things to happen in the body on a cellular and molecular level:
Human Growth Hormone (HGH), responsible for regulating body composition, increases dramatically. This improves both fat loss and muscle gain
Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop significantly, making body fat more accessible and therefore used as fuel, whilst also protecting against type 2 diabetes
Cells initiate repair processes, including removing old and dysfunctional cells
Gene expression changes, which has been shown to relate to longevity and protection against disease
Levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), blood triglycerides and inflammatory markers reduce, all risk factors for heart disease
The brain hormone BDNF increases, which may aid the growth of new nerve cells and potentially protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Most other diets are restrictive every day of the week, and therefore difficult to maintain as people often feel deprived. Intermittent fasting only requires calorie deficit on two days per week, or 2/3 of the day, depending on which diet you choose.
Different types of intermittent fasting may prove to be beneficial for some people, but at the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to health and nutrition. The best dietary approach is the one that you can stick with that fits in to your lifestyle.