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Fasting is a very old tradition that has certain devotional roles in some religions and cultures. However, it become popular these days in the world of fitness and health care.
Fasting is being food and drink deprived for a certain period of time and it has many forms and techniques to be executed with but the main scheme is to fast for 1 to 3 days.
A type of fasting, called intermittent fasting, depends on eating and fasting in a cyclic fashion that can range from hours to few days per cycle.
You can lose weight more rapidly and have a better brain health if you are fasting. In addition, there are many more health benefits that can be found in fasting if done properly.
Based on science, this article presents to you the most prominent 8 benefits of fasting.
1. Reduced Insulin Resistance
Fasting lowers the risk of diabetes because it promotes blood sugar control, which is very useful for people having the risk to be diabetic.
Some recent studies showed that people with type 2 diabetes had decreased sugar levels in their bloodstreams after acquiring an intermittent fasting diet.
However, even alternate-day fasting showed promising results in reducing the sugar levels in the blood due to reducing insulin resistance that happened because of the reduced caloric intake.
Why is reducing insulin levels important? And how it affects the sugar levels? Insulin resistance is the lack of sensitivity to the effect of the insulin hormone in transporting glucose to your cells efficiently, which will result in increased sugar levels in the blood causing diabetes.
In addition, fasting eliminates the sudden crashes and spikes that can happen in your blood sugar levels, maintain your sugar levels. The only thing that might affect the results is that many studies claim that men and women respond differently to fasting, showing blood control in a gender and no effect in the other.
All in all, insulin resistance can be lowered by alternate-day fasting and intermittent fasting, thus decreasing the sugar levels in the bloodstream with different effects on genders.
2. Battling Inflammation
Infections can cause acute inflammation that have many harmful consequences on your health. Unfortunately, inflammation is an automatic immune response to fight infections but fasting can actually limit the effects of inflammation.
Inflammation risks are very harmful as they might cause many chronic diseases like cancer and heart diseases.
Intermittent fasting has proved through a study that one month of fasting can suppress the levels of inflammatory markers tremendously. On the other hand, fasting for 12 hours daily for one month do the same effects on inflammatory markers.
Such effects are due to the fact that fasting limits the caloric intake that reduces the inflammation effects in return.
Concluding this topic, many studies have proven that fasting is a very strong weapon in fighting inflammation by suppressing the inflammation markers in a significant way.
3. Lower Blood Pressure, Cholesterol Levels, and Better Heart Status
More than 30% of the people living on the globe died because of heart diseases, ranking first in the highest number of deaths for a disease.
Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle will definitely reduce the risk of being subject to heart diseases. According to some studies, fasting promotes the health condition of your heart and lowers the disease risk.
A case study showed that you can reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by 30% by fasting in an alternate-day fashion for 8 weeks.
Beside improving the heart health condition, fasting can decrease blood pressure dramatically. According to another study, fasting for 3 weeks is capable of moderating your blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol as well.
In the light of the above studies, it is crystal-clear that fasting is accompanied with less risk of heart diseases in addition to enhanced blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides lowering.
4. Promote Brain Function
Most of the studies conducted in this scope was done on animals, yet other new studies claim that fasting can actually enhance the human brain health as well.
From the animal studies that proved enhanced brain function in animals, a study on mice demonstrated that brain functions and structure were promoted in mice after 11 months of fasting.
In addition, other studies demonstrated that fasting is capable of generating more nerve cells to promote cognitive function beside maintaining the brain health.
As mentioned in the third benefit, fasting fights inflammation, which is a key point in stopping neurodegenerative disorders from taking place.
Fasting also can prevent the brain from suffering under the hands of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Such studies were all conducted on animals, so we need more studies to be done on human brain despite the fact that mice are 99% similar to us because such confirmation could show the real benefits of fasting.
5. Enhances Metabolism and Cuts Calories, Helping in Weight Loss
Looking for an easy and quick technique to lose weight? Then go for fasting to weight less in an effortless manner.
You lose weight when you spend more calories than you consume, which happens probably in fasting since you don’t eat foods and drink for a certain period of time, which makes your body calorie deficit.
Neurotransmitter norepinephrine is stimulated thoroughly in short-term fasting, which boosts metabolism dramatically. Higher metabolism means your body is in a fat burning and muscle building state, helping you get leaner and shed off some fats.
A study demonstrated that fasting for a whole day can make you lose up to 10% of your weight and make distinctive changes in your fat percentage for around 12 to 24 weeks. On the other hand, a study showed that intermittent fasting can make you lose weight up to 8% and fats up to 16% for a duration of 3-12 weeks.
Fasting is a better option than total caloric prevention because fasting will preserve your muscles while actually losing fats.
6. More Growth, Enhanced Metabolism, and More Weight Loss Through HGH Release
HGH is the human growth hormone which is responsible for muscular growth, strength increase, and increased metabolism. Good news here is that you can increase HGH naturally by fasting, without suffering from the side effects of getting HGH artificially.
According to a study, fasting for 1 day can affect your HGH levels positively, which has been inspected on more than 10 adults.
In addition, fasting for two days study conducted on men yielded to an increase up to 5-fold in the production rate of HGH.
Fasting is a very powerful technique in decreasing insulin resistance and maintaining a normal blood sugar levels as mentioned earlier, which actually aid the increase of HGH levels without restrictions because some studies mentioned that high levels of insulin can lower the levels of HGH.
7. Postpone Aging
Animal studies claimed that fasting can increase the lifespan of the animals. For instance, a study done on rats fasting alternatively showed that the fasting rats lived longer than non-fasting rats by 80%, which shows how fasting can actually delay aging.
A lot of aging studies were conducted to see whether fasting delays aging or not and all of them claimed that fasting increases the lifespan and survival times.
Again, more studies should be conducted on human beings instead of animals because there should be a direct correlation between fasting and the aging in human beings rather than in animals.
8. Promote the Efficiency of Chemotherapy
In vitro and animal studies show that cancer can be prevented and treated more efficiently by fasting. This can be seen in the rat study that fasted in the alternative fashion to prevent tumor formation.
Another test tube study proved that fasting cancer cells showed the same results as chemotherapy, which is postponing the tumor growth and fasting also aided in increasing the efficiency of medication and chemotherapy to stop the formation of cancer.
Just like many of the health benefits of fasting presented in this article, most of such studies are directed towards the benefits of fasting in animals and cancer cells, not in human beings. Such findings are amazing and groundbreaking, but human studies can actually be miraculous since cancer is one of the biggest reasons behind death today.
How to Start Fasting
You have to choose your favorite type of fasting based on your goals and lifestyle, so look what is more compatible for you and your body.
We prepared a list of the most commonly used fasting techniques and they are presented below:
Water fasting: During a certain period of time, you are allowed only to drink water.
Juice fasting: Just like water fasting, you are allowed to drink juices for a certain period of time.
Intermittent fasting: Alternate between restricting all types of intake for a few hours for few days then resume your normal diet again.
Partial fasting: You can infer from the name that you fast for certain foods and consume others. You can cut out animal foods, caffeine, and processed foods for a fixed time.
Calorie restriction: Cut calories for a few days weekly.
You can modify and adjust those methods of fasting by breaking them down to more categories by implementing an alternate-day fasting method in the intermittent fasting technique, or just fast for few hours daily and resume your normal diet again during the rest of the day.
You will never know your preferences without giving different types a trial, that is why try different techniques and check out what works best for you.
Cons of Fasting and How to Do it Safely
Nearly everything on the planet has pros and cons. Although fasting has many healthy benefits, it won’t work for everyone and can actually be harmful.
Diabetic people should consult doctors before fasting because fasting can cause sudden blood sugar spikes that are extremely dangerous.
If you are underweight, fasting can make you feel dizzy due to the lack of calories that you actually need. In addition, fasting is not recommended for adults since their organs need to be nourished every now and then for better functionality.
Fasting should be done smartly, which means that during your eating periods try to stay hydrated as much as possible and eat nutritious foods that will actually help you fast for more time.
Don’t do grueling physical activity while fasting and try to rest as much as you can.
Don’t fast without consulting a doctor and make sure you spend your eating period time properly, which means that you have to drink plenty of water and give your body all of the needed nutrients.