Eating is one of the pleasures of life, and we don’t want to stop. It is essential to receive nutrients and stay healthy. Plus, you have those social and cultural elements that turn eating into an unforgettable experience.
But food availability in our modern world is quite different from what it used to be. Evolution shaped our body when food was scarce, and the period between waking up and eating for the first time was extended after gathering, hunting, preparing, and cooking food. Thus, fasting was always a part of us, even before it became a religious practice.
Intermittent fasting is a new weight-loss method that retrieves the practice of skipping breakfast or waiting some time before eating from the hunter-gatherer era when people did not suffer from obesity and metabolic problems.
Fasting is more than losing weight
We usually associate the idea of fasting with “losing weight no matter what,” even if that means starving and becoming malnourished. Disordered eating has contributed to the misconception that fasting methods are extreme and unhealthy. But that’s not the case.
Dietary restriction has shown several benefits besides losing weight. As noted in the introduction, it follows the same eating pattern from our ancestors, which is apparently favored by our biology. Controlled studies in humans show that it does not lead to malnutrition, but you need to follow a strategy.
There are different fasting strategies, and you can try different approaches according to what you prefer. For example:
- Intermittent fasting: An easy technique that will only require skipping your breakfast. You want to achieve a 16-hour fast counting your sleeping hours, which is not hard to do. There are many variations, and you can perform a 24-hour fast every now and then after you get used to the method. It has been thoroughly studied and has a robust scientific backup and plenty of health benefits.
- Fasting-mimicking diet: This is a plant-based diet you can complete in 5 days by consuming 1,090 calories on day 1 and 725 calories on day 2-5, and it will have positive effects for a whole month. It was designed in studies by Dr. Valter Longo to retain the same benefits of fasting without unwanted nutrient deficiency problems.
- Periodic fasting: This method includes more extended fasting periods lasting 3 days every 2 weeks or every month. This is only performed after practicing easier fasting techniques, and it should be controlled by a clinician for better results.
As you can see, none of them is an irresponsible or careless method, and they are entirely different from eating disorders. Still, you’re recommended to ask your doctor before trying intermittent fasting if you have a history of disordered eating.
After practicing intermittent fasting, you won’t become malnourished. Instead, fasting activates auxiliary pathways in your body to use your fat reserves instead of food as the immediate source of energy. In other words, you will be feeding off your belly and reducing your weight.
Extra benefits if you’re overweight
There are plenty of investigations around fasting. Most researchers conclude that our bodies were not designed to eat frequently all day long. By following the most natural approach to eating, intermittent fasting has many benefits for overweight individuals.
This method is known to increase insulin sensitivity, an essential parameter for people with obesity and a high risk of type 2 diabetes. It improves your cholesterol levels and reduces inflammation markers in the blood, especially one known as C-Reactive protein. It may even sensitize cancer cells to chemo treatment and prevents certain types of cancer.
We can keep on listing the benefits of fasting and talking about an effect on your blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and healthier body composition.
In a nutshell, we can say about intermittent fasting:
- It is a science-proven method for weight loss, backed up by various medical doctors and researchers.
- It uses various strategies, and you can choose them depending on your goals and experience.
- It helps to achieve a healthy weight, keeping blood sugar, triglyceride levels, and blood pressure under control.
- According to studies, it may contribute to increased longevity by improving these and other health parameters.
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