Intermittent fasting has become more and more popular, especially in the paleo communities.
On first mention, many people might balk at the idea of fasting. Most of us have grown up being told not to miss meals.
But recent research shows that fasting for shorter periods of time may not be a bad thing after all. In fact, intermittent fasting might actually be beneficial for your health.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting, or IF, is basically an eating pattern. It is not about reducing calories or eating less. It is more about paying attention to when and how often you eat.
IF can be approached in a few different ways. Some people will skip breakfast, making their fasting period from the time they finished dinner to their lunch the next day, so usually about 16 hours without food. Some people will choose to skip lunch, fasting for part of the day for about 6 hours or so. And others might skip 2 meals in a row, taking 24 hours or more off from food.
Like many things in the diet and exercise world, there is no right or wrong way to do intermittent fasting. It depends on your body and your needs.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
You may be thinking, why would I want to do this to myself in the first place?
There are actually many health benefits of skipping a meal or two. The biggest reason people get started with IF is fat burning.
When you eat, your body spends its energy processing that food. Because there is food and calories readily available, your body uses that as an energy source for digesting and other activity.
However, if you don’t have that energy source available, your body will begin to use your stored fat as its source of energy, which equals faster fat loss.
But besides faster fat loss, there are other benefits that could come with fasting such as:
It can help stabilize your insulin sensitivity. Sugar can be an energy source, but it can also cause insulin resistance when eaten to excessive quantities – which is what is found in most junk food. Insulin resistance is one of the biggest causes of chronic disease. When you fast periodically, your body is trained to use fat as its fuel source, instead of sugar and carbs; which can reduce your risk of disease. Fasting can also reduce triglyceride levels which can also help reduce risk of disease.
It also regulates your hunger hormone. From a historical standpoint, being hungry all the time isn’t normal. Our ancestors (and even animals!) eat with a feast or famine system. They did not have access to 3 square meals every single day. Putting your body in a constant state of eating and digesting, you actually feed the hunger hormone. Fasting can help.
It can increase production of the human growth hormone. Studies have shown that fasting can increase this hormone, which can aid in fat burning and muscle gain.
Intermittent fasting may seem off-putting at first, but give it a try! It can help you turbo-boost your fat burning, but it can do so much more than that. Intermittent fasting brings many other health benefits that it’s worth trying out.