The ancient practice of fasting is one that stood against the test of time. It has periodically found its way into modern dietary and lifestyle practices – whether that’d be weight loss, fitness or otherwise. For most people, fasting often conjures a notion of prolonged periods without food, and sometimes even drink. Whilst this may ring a few warning bells, a new type of fasting method has people to lose weight, improve health, boost mental clarity and more.
All of which sounds too good to be true. Before you place your doubts, we uncover all you need to know about intermittent fasting.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
To put it simply, one who does intermittent fasting will alternate between short periods of fasting and periods of regular food intake. This schedule differs from person to person. One can go without food for 16 hours straight before eating during the remaining 8, whilst another can opt to eat normally for 5 days and eat little to nothing on 2 nonconsecutive days per week.
Effects On Metabolism
One of the many alleged benefits of intermittent fasting often asserted is one of weight loss. As a periodic energy restriction method, this works wonders to help one drop a few pounds. Due to the reduced meal intake, the body is naturally forced to tap into fat stores and burn a significant percentage of fat mass for energy. As such, many claimed that this thermodynamic process would effectively bump one’s metabolic rate, further easing one’s weight loss pursuits. However, it is not clear whether these results are due to a reduced food intake or attributed to changes in eating pattern, although science seems to hint that it’s both.
When one engages in intermittent fasting, one enjoys an elevated human growth hormone (HGH) levels, a hormone that works to stimulate metabolic processes in cells. Naturally, the higher the HGH levels, the higher your metabolism. Moreover, higher HGH levels signal the liver and other tissues to secrete Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGD-1), a hormone that stimulates muscle growth and lean body mass. And as the body preserves more lean body mass, it will impede the slowing down of the body’s calorie-burning process.
Effects On Body Composition
Apart from changes to the metabolic process, intermittent fasting offers other benefits, particularly on one’s body composition. Research has shown that during intermittent fasting, your insulin sensitivity increases across the board. This helps prevent any storage of excess glucose as fat, and will instead be directed to your liver for storage. As a response to lower insulin resistance, the liver will also produce less triglycerides, leading to a reduced risk in coronary disease.
As previously mentioned, those who did intermittent fasting will experience increased levels of HGH levels. Apart from changes to one’s metabolism, HGH also stimulates the upregulation of autophagy – a process in which unused or damaged cell components are collected and recycled; thus, promoting better health and survival of body cells.
Other effects include improvements in blood pressure, blood lipids and heart rate.
One of the many highlighted benefits of intermittent fasting includes the prevention of ageing symptoms of the brain and nervous system. On top of the upregulation of autophagy, intermittent fasting helps to keep down inflammation too. These two processes help to drastically reduce any damage to the brain.
Moreover, since fat burning is chosen over protein use due to an increase in HGH levels, the latter is used for cell repair and the contribution of new brain cells and connections. Such processes are highly beneficial to the brain’s health and longevity.
The Slippery Slope
Apart from requiring absolute self-discipline and willpower, it’s easy to head down the slippery slope and stick to the number of meals that should be eaten rather than the mealtime window you’ve already decided on. Intermittent fasting is less about restricting your meal frequency, but resetting your physiology with a set schedule.
Unfortunately, modern lifestyles favour longer periods of daily energy intake and shorter fasting period. After all, eating is not just about sustenance, but it’s also physical, emotional, mental and social. You’re bound to be eating more than you fast – and at irregular timings at that.
If you wish to engage in intermittent fasting, it is worth noting that reducing your meal frequency will be all for naught if you have an erratic eating pattern. In fact, a haphazard meal frequency (whether you engage in fasting or otherwise) is found to have negative impacts on thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity and blood lipids. So be sure to keep in mind your meal schedule and stick to it!
If you’re not quite sure whether intermittent fasting is truly right for you or how best to approach it, you can always ask your MyCLNQ doctor/nutritionist. With MyCLNQ, access to telehealth and telemedicine is right at your fingertips! You’ll be able to set an online medical consultation and consult with a virtual doctor/nutritionist without having to leave the comforts of your own home.