What Are The Pros To Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that alternates fasting with periods of normal eating, per Johns Hopkins Medicine. It involves limiting the number of calories consumed during a specific period of time each day or each week. This form of eating is thought to have been a common practice among hunter-gatherer societies — in their natural environment, access to food was often unpredictable and scarce, leading them to regularly go through periods of fasting.

This approach to eating is gaining popularity as a way to improve overall health and manage weight. The idea behind intermittent fasting is to allow the body to shift into a state of metabolism known as ketosis, where the body burns fat for energy instead of glucose, says Healthline. This might result in various health benefits, varying from person to person. Despite the benefits, intermittent fasting is not recommended for everyone, and it's best to talk to your doctor before starting.

The benefits of intermittent fasting

The benefits of this approach to eating are numerous. It might help promote weight loss since limited calories are consumed each day. According to a 2019 study published in the journal Scientific Reports, fasting can help increase metabolic rate, helping to burn calories. Additionally, reduced calorie intake during fasting periods can help improve insulin sensitivity which is important for managing diabetes, according to another 2014 study published in the journal Translational Research.

According to a 2017 study published in the journal of Advanced Research, intermittent fasting can potentially reduce inflammation in the body. While inflammation is a normal response to infection or injury, chronic inflammation is associated with various health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, says WebMD.

Additionally, intermittent fasting has been linked to improved heart health. One 2020 study published in The American Journal of Medicine has shown that this type of eating pattern can reduce blood pressure, lower glucose, and cholesterol levels, and improve the overall functioning of the cardiovascular system.

How to safely practice intermittent fasting

There are several methods for practicing intermittent fasting, each with its own rules and guidelines. To understand the best method, you should talk to your doctor before starting an intermittent fasting diet. This is especially important if you have a history of disordered eating or other health conditions.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the time-restricted feeding or the 16:8 fasting method limits food consumption to specific hours of the day — such as eating only during an 8-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. Another approach is alternate-day fasting, where you alternate days of restricted calorie intake with days of normal calorie intake.

The 5:2 diet is another method of intermittent fasting, where you eat a normal, healthy diet for five days and reduce calorie intake to about 500 calories for the remaining two days, explains the Cleveland Clinic. During periods of calorie restriction, it's also important to drink plenty of water and other non-caloric beverages to stay hydrated, per Healthline.