Unless you've been living in a cave for the past few years, you will be familiar with the term 'intermittent fasting'. The term is pretty self-explanatory but it is also slightly terrifying! Who wants to starve?! It is kind of intense but, it really isn’t that crazy and, here’s the thing - If done right, it can really work!
So,'does it work?' and 'is intermittent fasting right for me?' we hear you cry! Well, sit back, relax and let the experts here at PROMiXX give you the lowdown with our 7 Benefits to Intermittent Fasting and, along the way, we'll introduce you to some of the world's best and biggest advocates.
So let's get into it...
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is the term given to weight loss diets that encourage periods of fasting and non-fasting. Although intermittent fasting has become something of a health and fitness trend, it isn’t a fad and there are several studies that suggest it can result in weight loss.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are several types of intermittent fasting diets, but the three main methods, and the most popular are:
- The 8/16 Diet
The way this fast works is to fast for 16 out of every 24 hours. This is best done overnight so the great thing about this is that you will be sleeping for a large part of your fast period. You will have an 8 hour window everyday when you can eat.
- The 5/2 Diet
This method involves spending two days of the week fasting. During those two days, you should consume no more than 500/600 calories. The other days, you can eat as much as you like, but of course, within reason and still making the healthier choices.
The idea with the ‘Eat-Stop-Eat fasting Diet is to go once or twice a week without eating anything from dinner on one day to dinner the nest day - So, a 24 hour fast once or twice weekly.
Intermittent Fasting Myths
It's understandable that many are instantly put off by these diets - The word ‘fast’ is not appealing and it really sounds as though you will be left ravenously hungry but, although there is the initial adjustment, these diets are generally considered ‘doable’ even for the most stubborn of food lovers.
Due to Intermittent Fasting being so intimidating on the surface, numerous myths have been born from it.
‘You have to eat every 3 hours to maximise/maintain a high metabolic rate’.
Nonsense! Several studies have shown that there is no discernable difference between eating 7 meals a day or 2 meals a day when it comes to increasing metabolic rates.
'Your body will go into starvation mode if you go too long between meals'
Nonsense! Interesting fact - The body can go without food for 3 weeks and in some cases up to 40 days, though, of course, we DO NOT recommend that.
Intermittent fasting is only suitable for men!
As if! This is not true… there is, however, some facts behind this and it’s important to note that the same rules do not apply to both sexes.
For a detailed explanation on this, check out this video by Thomas Delauer as he explains the impact intermittent fasting has on both men and women.
It really is a case of women needing to listen to their bodies. This is naturally true for everyone though.
OK, so, those are the myths - let’s look into the cold, hard facts as we uncover the 7 core benefits of intermittent fasting...
7 core benefits of intermittent fasting
For many advocates of intermittent fasting, this is the one that seals the deal.
Think about it… No meal prepping, no real diet planning and, depending on which diet you are doing, no need to rush around at breakfast times, making it particularly easy and convenient for those with children. You don’t have to worry about your own breakfast, just deal with the kiddos. No more rushing around with a bacon roll hanging out of your mouth whilst dressing the 4-year-old, pouring milk into their cereal, and doing the last minute spelling test! Intermittent fasting frees up your day!
- Increase in HGH
Yes Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
Intermittent fasting can increase HGH by as much as 2000%. That’s a whopping increase!
HGH is a ‘growth stimulating’ hormone responsible for cell reproduction, and cell regeneration.
The hormone peaks just after puberty and then slowly decreases from around the age of 30 and is responsible for:
- An increase muscle strength.
- Better fracture healing.
- Enhanced weight loss.
- Stronger bones.
- Reduced cardiovascular disease.
- Improvement in erectile dysfunction.
- Decreased obesity.
- Better mood and cognitive function.
- Better sleep.
- Increased Testosterone
There are several benefits of testosterone when it comes to strength, particularly in men but in women as well, but did you know it also has the following impact;
- Decreased body fat.
- Increased brain function.
- Increased bone density.
- Improved skin and hair.
- Improved well being.
Intermittent fasting can increase your testosterone levels by 180%
We'll let one of our favourite YouTubers, Dr Eric Berg DC explain this one:
- Fat Loss
As well as the fat-burning side effects that come with increased levels of HGH and Testosterone at its core, fasting uses the bodies own stores of fat for energy. Ultimately this is achieved by lowering the body's insulin levels thus switching from a fat storing mode into a fat depleting one.
- Live Longer
Who wants to live forever?! Okay, so maybe not forever, but fasting has been shown to enhance the body's resistance to oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, a contributor to many other illnesses that impact the ageing process.
- Cell Regeneration
Studies have shown that 'prolonged' fasting has some AMAZING effects on the body's cells. You might not quite be renewing your cells like Wolverine but, it’s pretty awesome what your body can do.
“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,”
New podcast! Dr. Valter Longo talks fasting and a fasting mimicking diet for longevity, cancer, and autoimmunity.
— Dr. Rhonda Patrick (@foundmyfitness) October 1, 2016
- Clarity of Mind
Do you find it hard to concentrate? Wish you could zone in on a task. Benefit number 7 is how fasting bolsters brain power. It would seem that one of bodies response to lack of food is an increase in brain function, a seemingly natural response to,'Where am I going to get my next meal from?'.
How it has a positive impact on your grey matter is further explained in this great Ted talk:
So, now you know the myths, and we’ve given you 7 reasons to consider intermittent fasting, what's next?
We highly recommend following these guys:
If you haven't yet checkout this episode on the Joe Rogan Experience:
If you would like further reading on the effects of intermittent fasting for women, checkout this article on mind body green.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? We would love to hear from you.
What has worked for you and what hasn't?
Perhaps you have your own opinions on the subject, whatever it is, tag us on Facebook, tweet us, or hashtag #PROMiXX #intermittentfasting