Fasting has been used for centuries as a way to improve health, but in the past few years it’s become more popular than ever. Intermittent fasting is the practice of abstaining from food and drinks for a period of time — typically for 8-24 hours — and then eating normally for the rest of the day or week. During a fast, you typically don’t consume any calories or simple carbohydrates, although you may choose to drink foods with calories like black coffee or bone broth.
There are many different theories around intermittent fasting, from health benefits to weight loss. But before deciding to try it, you should learn about the potential risks and benefits of fasting. In this article, you’ll learn about how intermittent fasting affects health and weight loss.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
When it comes to intermittent fasting, many people turn to it as a way to reach their weight loss goals. But fasting can also provide some other potential benefits.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity:
Fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for people who have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes. When you fast, your blood sugar levels decrease. This means that when you do eat, your body is more sensitive to the insulin it produces, meaning it’s better at taking glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream and using it as energy.
Autophagy is a process in the body that helps to clear out damaged cells and waste products. This is important for maintaining healthy cells, as it helps to reduce inflammation, balance hormones, and even help protect against chronic diseases. Fasting has been linked to a boost in autophagy, helping to rid your body of toxins and damaged cells.
Increases Human Growth Hormone:
Research has also found that intermittent fasting increases levels of human growth hormone, or HGH. This hormone helps increase muscle mass, which is beneficial for those who are trying to build muscle. It is also linked to increased fat loss and better mental clarity.
Inflammation is your body’s way of defending itself against pathogens and healing itself. However, too much inflammation can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Fasting has been linked to decreased inflammation in the body, which may be beneficial for overall health.
The Risks of Intermittent Fasting
Although there are many potential benefits to intermittent fasting, it’s important to note that there are risks involved as well.
Low Energy Levels:
When you’re fasting, your body has to turn to energy stores in the body for fuel. This means that you may experience periods of low energy or fatigue. This is especially true if you are trying to fast for more than 24 hours at a time.
Weak Immune System:
Your immune system is important for fighting off infection and disease. However, when you fast for extended periods of time, your body may not be able to fight off infection as effectively. This can put you at risk for frequent colds and illnesses.
Dehydration: During a fast, your body is consuming fewer calories than normal. This means that you are at higher risk for dehydration if you are not drinking enough fluids. Dehydration can excessive thirst, fatigue, and even confusion.
Fasting can be beneficial in the short-term, but if you find yourself frequently restricting your food intake, it can lead to more serious eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. It’s important to be aware of your body and have an understanding of what is and isn’t healthy for you.
A prolonged fast can put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies, which can lead to serious health problems. If you are fasting for extended periods of time, it’s important to talk to your doctor and make sure you are still getting the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Intermittent fasting can provide many health benefits, including weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions to stay healthy. Make sure to talk to your doctor before starting a fast and understand the pros and cons before you start.