Getting the Skinny on Intermittent Fasting

When it comes to weight loss, many people use fad diets to try and drop excess weight quickly. While many people have found remarkable success through noted programs like the keto diet or the HCG diet, there are many other plans that are dangerous for one’s health since they remove too many of the nutrients needed for the body to function properly. One dieting plan that is gaining new attention is intermittent fasting, though the concept and practice are not new to humanity. New research on the topic is showing more potential in different areas of individual health, particularly in the area of longevity.

The Decades of Research

For years scientists and researches have studies the range of health benefits from intermittent fasting in both humans and animals. This practice is an eating pattern that has a persona for several hours or days with minimum food consumption or at all. However, essential nutrients are still given to the body during this time. Some of the common regiments include fasting for two days each week, fasting every other day, or following a daily time-restricted eating schedule. A plan like this only allows an individual to eat during a specified time window during the day. Through the hundreds of animal studies that have been done and the dozens of human clinical trials, research shows the power of intermittent fasting to make health improvements in areas of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, neurological disorders, and some cancers.

The Results on Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting has been a weight management idea for years, as the practice often results in a much lower daily calorie consumption. The lack of food intake naturally leads to a more noticeable reduction in weight, but the key to weight management through fasting is metabolic switching. In this process, the fasting will encourage the body to switch from glucose that has been stored in the liver for energy over to using up the ketones which are stored in body fat. The ketones are important signaling molecules with a key impact on cell and organ functions, but they are also used as fuel during times of fasting. The more ketones that are released into the bloodstream, the greater the impact on an individual’s health.

The Research on Longevity

When ketogenesis occurs (the increase of ketones in the bloodstream), it initiates a flurry of activity that initiates cellular signaling in areas of health and aging. The activity then enhances the body’s overall defenses against metabolic and oxidative stress, encourages the removal or repair of molecules that have been damaged. Though these results occur as a result of intermittent fasting, the impact carries over into the non-fasting period. Improved blood sugar regulation, suppressed inflammation, and increased stress resistance is a result. All of these areas impact the longevity of an individual, in addition to the broad-spectrum benefits that include improving physical and mental performance, as well as disease resistance.

The Lack of Understanding

For the U.S, culture, the thought of going without food seems unnatural. People are ingrained in the practice of having three square meals a day plus their snacks, but food is also so easy to come by that it makes it harder to ignore. Taking a new approach to eating, where it will require extreme self-discipline, isn’t something that has caught on to a majority of Americans. Physicians that work with individuals to manage their weight or to improve other health conditions often have so many other options or medications that outshine intermittent fasting. The effects of long-term use with intermittent fasting have not been as studied as these other areas of benefits, also leading to some confusion or hesitancy to prescribe the program as a solution to weight or health management. However, clinicians that do prescribe this process usually have their patients start out slowly, using a gradual or phased-in schedule, but they also have their patients work with a nutritionist or dietician to make sure the body is getting the nutrients it deserves.

The People It Hurts

The research done on intermittent fasting has not found definitive answers on who should avoid fasting since many of the studies revolved around those with weight or other health conditions that needed attention. It is also not advised for individuals with low blood sugar levels or diabetes to undertake fasting without the consultation of their physician. People with cardiovascular conditions may also have complications when pursuing the health management approach.

 

Intermittent fasting isn’t a fad diet, and research has confirmed the benefits that can accompany its practice. Always consult with a physician before you attempt any weight loss or dietary change of this magnitude.

 

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