Though intermittent fasting as a weight-loss approach has been entertained for years in various forms. But it was not until 2012 that it became highly popularized. What gave it the nudge it needed to become more mainstream, was Dr. Michael Mosley’s TV documentary called Eat, Fast, Live Longer. Following right after the documentary was the book The 5:2 Diet by journalist Kate Harrison. In addition, The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung helped generate more positive buzz around intermittent fasting and its potential benefits.
Interestingly according to Harvard Medical School’s contributor, Monica Tello (MD, MPH), the timing of fasting can be the key to making intermittent fasting more sustainable, realistic, and effective. There is a lot of talking about the benefits of Intermittent Fasting. It includes, for instance, weight-loss and diabetes prevention.
Is seems like intermittent fasting helps with weight-loss
The idea and success factor behind intermittent fasting lies with low insulin levels. When we eat food, our body is breaking that down by enzymes in our gut, after which it will end up in our bloodstream as molecules. Certain foods, such as rice, pasta, and white flours (i.e. foods high in carbohydrates), our body break these down into sugar quickly. Our bodies use these sugars as quick energy. But, Intermittent Fasting our cells do not use it, it will be stored in fat cells. In other words, our cells will store it as fat.
However, the sugars can only enter the cells with the help of a hormone. We make this in the pancreas – what we know as insulin. Simply put, insulin takes the sugar into the fat cells, and keeps it there.
Reduce insulin levels by cutting down on snacking
There is a lot of controversy about whether a person wanting to lose weight should snack or not. When looking at the topic from an intermittent fasting standpoint, cutting down on snacking can help to reduce insulin levels, thus releasing stored sugars to be used as energy.
This being said, the idea behind intermittent fasting is to let the insulin levels drop down low enough that the fat cells will start to release sugars, thus cutting down fat.
Intermittent fasting does not need to be hard
Recent studies have shown that not all intermittent fasting approaches work equally well. In fact, some can be very effective, reasonable, and easy to maintain. Humans have evolved to be in sync with a circadian rhythm. For example, we use to eat during the day and sleep through the night. Based on this, nighttime snacking has been linked to a higher risk of obesity and other health problems.
Interestingly, a study conducted at the University of Alabama suggested that the Intermittent Fasting method of “early time-restricted feeding” can make fasting easier to handle, and it can have the much-discussed benefits of lower insulin levels – without the feeling of starvation.
In the study, a group of obese men fit their meals into an eight-hour period during the day: between 7 am and 3 pm. The second group, however, spread out their meals between 7 am and 7 pm. While both groups maintained their original weight, the 8-hour group had significantly lower insulin levels after five weeks. In addition, their insulin sensitivity and blood pressure had improved.
As if this was not enough, the best part was that they reported not experiencing the feeling of starvation.
In short, just by fasting overnight when we sleep, for the most part, you can eliminate the feeling of sluggishness and hunger, while getting the best benefits out of intermittent fasting.
Don’t forget the importance of healthy eating and exercise
While Intermittent Fasting is a great way to improve your health, it does not mean neglecting the importance of healthy foods and exercising. A good diet should consist of low-fat, nutrient-rich foods. Also, exercising with a personal trainer or getting started with an online personal training program can help you to burn off some calories, get stronger, and improve your cardiovascular health.
The popularity of intermittent fasting is not only an empty buzz around fancy words. In fact, according to Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, “there is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective.”
However, she does suggest that everyone should use the kind of eating approach that suits them.