Are you curious about the remarkable benefits of intermittent fasting? In recent years, the unique eating pattern, in which periods of eating alternate with fasting, has become increasingly popular all over the world.
Explore the numerous advantages it offers, from effective weight management to enhanced metabolic health.
Discover intermittent fasting benefits in this blog…
We’ve all heard of the term intermittent fasting, but what actually is it and how does it work? Despite climbing popularity in the use of intermittent fasting, it’s actually something that has potentially been around for years, way before our time.
This is due to rolling back time where food was less accessible, and people ate when they could, not necessarily when they wanted (1).
Intermittent fasting is essentially the term that encompasses a variety of meal time scheduling. There are many health claims that intermittent fasting can aid weight loss and improve metabolic health (2).
Despite different types of intermittent fasting, the fundamental principles remain the same of cycling the times you eat to achieve weight loss and which cycle you choose is totally down to personal preference!
The aim of fasting is to control the times at which you consume meals, and this naturally helps calorie control. For intermittent fasting to be effective, you need to ensure you’re creating a calorie deficit. In other words, you’re burning out more than you’re putting in.
There are several popular methods of intermittent fasting, including:
This involves fasting for 16 hours each day and limiting your eating to an 8-hour window. For example, you might eat between noon and 8 pm and then fast from 8 pm to noon the next day.
This involves eating normally for five days of the week and drastically reducing your calorie intake (usually around 500-600 calories) on the remaining two non-consecutive days.
This method involves fasting for a full 24 hours once or twice a week. For example, you might eat dinner at 7 pm one day and then not eat again until 7 pm the following day.
This involves alternating between days of regular eating and days of significant calorie restriction or complete fasting.
This involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and then having one large meal in the evening.
This is a less structured form of intermittent fasting where you skip meals when convenient, without a specific schedule.
Many people take on intermittent fasting as a means of losing weight, backed up by many studies demonstrating the powerful results that intermittent fasting can have on weight loss, in particular, that stubborn tummy fat you’ve been struggling to lose!
Whilst insulin levels in your blood decrease, growth hormone increases when you fast. Both of which contribute to fat burning (3).
Physiological changes that occur during fasting lead to an increase in your metabolic rate by 3.6-14% (4). This means you can burn extra calories!
Research shows that with fasting, we can increase the production and growth of new nerve cells, even those that help our brain function! (5)
Research has shown that restricting the eating window length of time, can have highly positive effects on insulin sensitivity, decreasing blood pressure and even reducing appetite. For example, having an 8-hour eating window (7am to 3pm) as opposed to a 12-hour eating window (7am to 7pm) (6).
The ideal eating window would be starting early in the morning, to avoid eating late into the night.
Absolutely. The benefits of exercise are extensively researched and exercising during intermittent fasting is no exception. In addition to the physiological and psychological benefits of exercise, it also contributes to the underlying goal of intermittent fasting – to burn out more calories than what you consume and help create that calorie deficit (7).
Listen to your body! Your body will let you know what works for you and what doesn’t. The key is choosing a plan that works for you, makes you feel good and helps you reach those goals.
This plan is a very popular choice for those seeking weight loss, although it’s important to remember it might not be suitable for everyone.
For example, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, intermittent fasting is likely not to be the optimal choice due to restrictions on eating times.
1. Mattson, M. P., Longo, V. D., & Harvie, M. (2017). Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. Ageing research reviews, 39, 46-58.
2. Klempel, M. C., Kroeger, C. M., Bhutani, S., Trepanowski, J. F., & Varady, K. A. (2012). Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women. Nutrition journal, 11(1), 98.
3. Ho, K. Y., Veldhuis, J. D., Johnson, M. L., Furlanetto, R., Evans, W. S., Alberti, K. G., & Thorner, M. O. (1998). Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. The Journal of clinical investigation, 81(4), 968-975.
4. Zauner, C., Schneeweiss, B., Kranz, A., Madl, C., Ratheiser, K., Kramer, L., . . . Lenz, K. (2000). Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 71(6), 1511-1515.
5. Martin, B., Mattson, M. P., & Maudsley, S. (2006). Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging. Ageing research reviews, 332-353.
6. Sutton, E. F., Beyl, R., Early, K. S., Cefalu, W. T., Ravussin, E., & Peterson, C. M. (2018). Early time-restricted feeding improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress even without weight loss in men with prediabetes. Cell metabolism, 1212-1221.
7. Moro, T., Tinsley, G., Bianco, A., Marcolin, G., Pacelli, Q. F., Battaglia, G., . . . Paoli, A. (2016). Moro, T., Tinsley, G., Bianco, A., Marcolin, G., Pacelli, Q. F., Battaglia, G., … & Paoli, A. (2016). Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk. Journal of translational medicine, 14(1), 290.