Intermittent fasting (IF) has become popular as a weight loss strategy. But a new analysis shows the benefits go far beyond a slimmer body.
Researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine examined what short periods of fasting do to your body in addition to lowering body weight.
Intermittent fasting involves quick fasts interspersed with normal eating. One form is the popular 5:2 diet in which you eat normally on five days of the week. On the remaining two, you eat about 25% of your usual calories.
The researchers reviewed numerous recent studies and clinical trials of IF. In each case, they looked beyond weight loss to find out if intermittent fasting was harmful or beneficial to overall health.
9 Ways Intermittent FastingImproves Your Health
Researchers discovered that IF is surprisingly beneficial. They knew it helped people lose weight. But it also led to major improvements in other areas. They found it:1
- Protects against cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s
- Enhances physical performance
- Reduces inflammation
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves metabolic health
- Reduces HDL (bad) cholesterol
- Improves lipid profile
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels
- Extends lifespan
Stephen Anton is an assistant professor in the Department of Aging and Geriatric Research at the University of Florida. He led the study. In addition to weight loss, IF “has the potential to have profound health benefits for us,” he said. “In my mind, it’s not even a question of whether it works for (just) producing fat loss.”
Why Intermittent Fasting Works
The researchers looked at 10 clinical trials testing IF. In all 10, subjects lost significant body fat.2
But other types of diets also lead to weight loss, although it is often temporary. What makes IF different is the metabolic effects, researchers said.
Our bodies usually use glucose for energy. But when you fast, glucose is no longer available. This causes your body to burn fat, turning it into molecules called ketones. The body uses ketones instead of glucose as its new source of energy.3
The result is that your body burns almost exclusively fatty tissues. The researchers noted that during conventional low-calorie dieting, your body burns all tissues—including lean muscle, organ, and skeletal tissue.
This is unhealthy. The more lean tissue you have, the better your overall physical health.
Intermittent fasts “optimize physiological function, enhance performance, and slow aging and disease processes,” the researchers concluded.4
Two Ways to Go on an Intermittent Fast
Intermittent fasting is not more difficult than conventional calorie-reduction diet programs.
There are two basic methods. Both are simple. There are no complicated recipes. No expensive frozen meals. No banned foods.
- The 5:2 Diet. On two days of the week, you restrict your calories to 25% of your normal intake. These are called “fast days.” On the other five days, you eat your normal diet. You can choose any two days as fast days – either consecutive or spaced out during the week.You can eat whatever you like—so long as you limit your calorie intake to 25% of your normal daily intake on fasting days. That is usually about 600 calories for men and 500 calories for women.
- Daily Fast. In this plan, you fast for 16 hours a day. You do all your eating within an eight-hour window. And you can eat anything you want in any amount during that time. For example, if you eat breakfast at 9 a.m., you then finish your dinner by 5 p.m.
On either plan, choosing filling foods without too many calories is best. These include:
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens.
- Smaller portions of meats, fish, or eggs. Bake, roast, or grill rather than fry.
- Soups. They can be filling and low in calories.
- Plenty of water. You can also drink black coffee or tea.
Avoid processed carbohydrates like white bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice. Cut out sugary foods. Berries or other fruit are your best bet if you want something sweet.
But there are other easy ways to be thinner without going hungry…
Like the secret “switch” you can flip that tells your body to burn fat instead of store it… The little-known chemical one doctor says makes your body demand unhealthy high-calorie foods… And how to shed pounds of body fat—without cutting back on the foods you love.
Discover how to unlock your fat-burning potential HERE.