You know that what you eat is important, but did you know that when you eat is important too? As increased interest in fasting is infiltrating modern society because people are really curious about the benefits. If that includes you, then you came to the right place. This article is discussing just that: the benefits of fasting.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is abstaining from any food or drink, excluding water. Fasting has been used in religious contexts for many years and was also used by ancient healers to improve a variety of conditions.
Intermittent Fasting is a specific type of fasting in which you cycle between specific periods of eating and fasting consistently. For example, some people fast for 16 hours each day. This means that in every day there is an 8 hour window in which they eat – like between 10-6 or 11-7 throughout the day.
The 5:2 diet is another popular version in which an individual fasts for 2 days out of the week. These days would not be back to back, and although the person would be fasting they could still consume about 500 calories or less each “fasted” day.
There are other variations aside from the two named in this article (the warrior diet, alternate day fasting, 16/8 fasting to name a few). Most people who give fasting a shot will try out different patterns to figure out which one works best for them.
Why Should You Fast?
Intermittent fasting has been shown to be beneficial for weight loss for a couple of reasons. Firstly, fasting can raise your energy expenditure, which basically means that it raises your metabolic rate leading to an increased amount of calories being burned.
Individuals who practice intermittent fasting also tend to eat less calories overall, potentially leading to a calorie deficit and leading to weight loss. This makes sense in that if you only have a specific window in which you can eat, it can be hard to continue eating the same calories you would throughout a normal day (2).
Overall, there is evidence to support that fasting is an effective strategy in losing weight (3). More studies are still being done to demonstrate how intermittent fasting compares to other diet interventions.
Increase Human Growth Hormone
Human Growth Hormone, or HGH, is responsible for regulating body composition. It stimulates cell reproduction and growth. HGH has been shown to increase naturally in humans during a fasted state (4).
Why would we want an increase in HGH? Well increased human growth hormone levels increases protein synthesis and also helps the body utilize fat storage (5). This is a great advantage for those working towards a lean, toned look. It’s also an advantage in building muscle due to the enhanced protein synthesis it provides.
Increase Your Lifespan
This is a new area of interest when it comes to the benefits of fasting, but possibly the most fascinating. Although studies are minimal so far, animal studies have indicated that fasting can prolong lifespan. This remains true even when calories have not been reduced overall. The mechanisms behind this phenomenon are not yet fully understood. Scientists hope to move forward with more mammal studies to figure out how and why fasting may slow the aging process (6).
Fasting has great potential benefits, but it also might not be suitable for everyone. Talk to your health practitioner if you have any concerns before trying a fast of any kind. Those who struggle to maintain a healthy relationship with food may find that the restriction involved is not suitable for them.
But for those interested in fasting and it’s benefits for weight loss, muscle growth, and aging it might be worth giving a shot. Not only is it easy to follow, but there are a multitude of ways that it can be done. If optimizing overall health is your goal and your willing to try something new, fasting might be for you.
Read about the benefits of acute fasting for anxiety here.
Have you tried fasting, or would you? Let me know in the comments below!