As we all know, diet plays an important role towards maintaining and/or improving an individual’s health. And the number of dieting options one could adopt to better their health is also plenty. So which diet scheme is the best one to follow? Well, this could depend on a lot of factors, the height and weight of the individual, the type of food they like to consume, their level of activity, etc. But amongst the plethora of options that are available, one of the most popular ones, especially in recent times, is intermittent fasting. Some people may consider it a fad, but it is a proven method which has been backed by scientific research and experiments. So now the question is should you be an intermittent faster? We will analyse some of the benefits and science behind this approach to help you decide the same.
Now, the basic principle behind intermittent fasting involves fasting for a set time per day and packing in your calories during the remaining time. In general, there are two ways to do this. The first is a daily time restricted feeding method where the individual has an eating window of 6-8 hours per day, and the second is the 5:2 intermittent fast. The 5:2 method involves restricting oneself to one moderated sized meal two days per week.
The method you choose is upto your flexibility. But either way, the science to both is very similar. At the core of it, intermittent fasting is basically used to toggle your body’s insulin sensitivity. Insulin is an important hormone in your body that is responsible for several functions ranging from energy absorption to fat storage. Now our goal is to try and keep insulin working at the time we want it to work. So by toggling the times at which our insulin levels are spiked, we can effectively optimize energy absorption and fat burning. While fasting, our body’s insulin activity is minimal which means fat storage will not be promoted and instead it will be burned and used as fuel. On the other hand when we consume food right after a fast, the spike in insulin would be very high which would in turn be used for better energy absorption from the food we consume.
Moreover, studies have also shown that intermittent fasting can help improve cellular health as well through a process called metabolic switching. This is a process that is triggered when the body faces a food scarcity and prompts the body to use fat for energy due to the drop in sugar based fuels within the body. As this process burns fat just like the previous one, it can help improve one’s health significantly. It has been shown to improve blood sugar regulation, increases resistance to stress and suppresses inflammation.
Another obvious consequence of these processes is weight loss. Since fat burning is prioritised, individuals can lose the right sort of weight and can get rid of obesity related problems. In fact, a study conducted at the University Hospital of South Manchester showed that individuals who were on the intermittent fasting program lost as much weight as those that were on a regular calorie restricted diet. And additionally, it was found that the ones on the intermittent fasting program had better insulin sensitivity and lower belly fat.
More recently, studies have also shown that intermittent fasting could help with brain health as well. A clinical trial held at the University of Toronto found that the subjects that were on an intermittent fasting program with restricted calories experienced signs of improved memory through a battery of cognitive tests. More research is definitely required to further cement these claims and understand its effectiveness on brain health but the signs clearly point towards positive results.
As we can see, the number of benefits one can gain through an intermittent fasting strategy is a lot. From physical health to brain health, intermittent fasting could be the key to the improvement of any individual’s holistic health. Backed by science, there is no doubt that intermittent fasting is a safe and effective strategy. So, in sum, there is no need for second thoughts, make a meal plan, follow the timings to the tee, and you will definitely see significant health improvements in due time.