Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating, not a diet. The principle follows that you change when you eat, not what you eat. Common methods of intermittent fasting include an 8 hour feeding window followed by a 16 hour fast – also known as the16/8 protocol.
Fasting affects our bodies on a cellular and molecular level which can lead to an array of lifestyle and health benefits. These include:
- Weight loss. A common reason for practising intermittent fasting is the link with weight loss. Fasting affects hormone levels, metabolic rates, insulin levels and muscle retention. A study by Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham found that fasting may increase metabolic rate by up to 14% which will enhance the body’s ability to burn calories. Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin sensitivity, and consequently cause the body to lower the amount of glucose stored which will result in lower fat stores. Various studies have found that intermittent fasting can aid in muscle retention when caloric deficits are in place, which will aid in weight loss.
- Improved heart health. Intermittent fasting has been linked to reduced blood lipids, such as cholesterol, and inflammatory markers which will reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Simplicity. Less meals to cook and less time to worry about when your next meal will be!
- Appetite suppression/control. As intermittent fasting reduces your window for food consumption, larger meals will often be consumed. This can lead to feeling fuller and more satisfied which will reduce cravings and overeating.
- Improved brain health. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting reduces inflammation and has been linked with the increased levels of the brain hormone, brain derived neurotrophic factor, which will reduce the risk of depression.