Reasons to Try Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating routine that involves alternating periods of eating and fasting.  It has recently gained popularity due to promising research, which indicates it can offer a number of health benefits.  It has also proven to be an effective weight control strategy for many people.  With a relatively simple and flexible implementation, which doesn’t involve any special foods, food restrictions, or exercise program, these potential benefits make it a practice worth considering.


There are multiple options when it comes to practicing intermittent fasting, depending on your personal preference and what makes sense for your lifestyle.  Some people choose to only eat for a certain number of hours a day; for example 12 hours each of eating and fasting, or 8 hours of eating and 16 hours of fasting (known as the 16:8 or Leangains method).  They may eat normal healthy meals for a majority of the week and then fast completely or severely restrict calories for one or two days a week; the 5:2 diet and eat-stop-eat methods fall into this category.  Skipping periodic meals or restricting calories every other day are some other possibilities.


One of the main reasons to try intermittent fasting is its potential positive effects on your health.  Studies have shown it can improve cardiovascular function by decreasing triglyceride and cholesterol levels, as well as improving your blood pressure and heart rate.  Brain function has also been shown to be positively impacted, due to reductions in inflammation, growth of new neurons, and metabolic changes.  Oxidative stress, which leads to an increase in free radicals in the body, can also be reduced via intermittent fasting.


In addition to these positive health changes, intermittent fasting can also help protect against negative ones.  Insulin resistance, a key contributor to the development of type 2 diabetes, has been shown to decrease.  The cardiovascular improvements that often come with intermittent fasting may decrease your probability of developing heart disease.  Chances of developing brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease may also be lowered.  Research has shown that intermittent fasting may decrease your likelihood to get cancer by improving metabolism and cell function.


People interested in losing weight may want to try intermittent fasting. By reducing the amount of time you spend eating, you can reduce the number of calories you ingest.  Of course, this assumes you continue to eat a healthy diet, and don’t overcompensate for the fasting periods by overindulging during the eating periods.  Intermittent fasting can also help improve your metabolism, so the calories you do eat are burned off more effectively.  Given the number of different ways to practice intermittent fasting, it can be a flexible diet solution that can be tailored to fit your needs.


One final and exciting reason to try intermittent fasting is its potential to increase your lifespan.  The general improvements in health associated with fasting outlined above can all contribute to a person’s longevity.  Research with mice has shown that restricting their time spent eating can greatly improve their lifespan, results which many believe are also possible in people.


Restricting your time and amount of eating may be an adjustment, both physically and mentally.  However, the abundant evidence regarding the positive effects of intermittent fasting suggests that it may be worth trying.  Given the wide variety of ways you can go about it, with a little fine-tuning, it can easily be incorporated into your lifestyle so that you can start enjoying these benefits.

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