Over the past few years, several diets gained massive popularity, only to lose it after a few months. However, intermittent fasting has been steadily on the rise for more than two decades.
While the principle of this article may seem simple, several research papers support its benefits on our health.
If you’re not familiar with intermittent fasting, you can think of it as having two time windows; during the first period, you can eat all the food you want, but you must refrain from any meals when the second time window comes.
Many attribute the popularity of intermittent fasting to the fact that you don’t have to restrict the number of calories you consume nor any type of macronutrients.
In other words, you eat whatever you want when it’s allowed.
In this article, we will discuss the major benefits of intermittent fasting and review the scientific research that supports them.
Top 5 benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Narrowing down our list to include 5 benefits is no easy task; however, we tried to cover the most important ones.
As you’ve probably guessed, the most important benefit of intermittent fasting is weight loss.
This is the result of several factors, including the caloric deficit, improved hormonal regulation, and decreased insulin resistance.
Moreover, your basal metabolic (BMR) will go up, which helps you burn more fat at rest.
Decreased insulin resistance
Researchers found that intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar levels. This effect is beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes, as well as for those at high risk.
Unfortunately, we still do not fully understand the underlying physiology that leads to this result, but many ongoing studies are trying to solve this mystery.
Reduction in oxidative stress
Inside our cells, there are many reactive oxygen species (i.e. free radicals) that destroy bacteria and other foreign pathogens.
These substances are important for our survival; however, they cannot differentiate between self-tissue and foreign tissue.
For this reason, the body has come up with a smart system that neutralizes these free radicals, using antioxidants after the job is over.
When the balance between free radicals and antioxidants is disrupted, we’ll be dealing with oxidative stress, which is a devastating metabolic state that’s been identified as the cornerstone of a wide range of diseases.
In a 2007 study, scientists found that intermittent fasting can significantly reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. This effect is partially why this diet decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Improved cardiovascular health
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the number one killer worldwide, with a death toll of over 17.9 million people.
CAD is caused by the irreversible clogging of the coronary artery –major heart vessel–, which deprives the cardiac muscle of oxygen and nutrients, leading to ischemia and tissue death.
Throughout the year, scientists were able to identify the major risk factors for CAD. These include:
- High LDL
- Low HDL
- Blood hypertension
Fortunately, intermittent fasting acts of several of these risk factors, which dramatically reduces the risk of CAD.
Decreased risk of some cancers
Cancer is a debilitating disease that takes the lives of millions of people every year.
This ailment is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of tumor cells, which end up destroying the surrounding tissue and causing death.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and the growth of tumor cells in laboratory animals.
While these results are not revolutionary, they are still promising findings that warrant conducting more clinical studies.
Intermittent fasting is a fantastic diet to lose weight in a healthy way. However, you should be careful about the type of food you consume, as you still want it to be free of artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated fats, and refined sugar.
Hopefully, you are more familiar with the benefits of intermittent fasting after reading this article, but if you still have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below.