In the same way that switching from eating primarily carbohydrates to mostly fats can change the way your body works, so can intermittent fasting. When you reduce your food intake for an extended period of time, certain changes occur in the body:
- Your insulin levels drop which increases fat burn.
- Your body produces more human growth hormone which supports fat burn and muscle gain.
- Cellular repair processes occur at a higher rate.
- Beneficial changes occur in genes and molecules related to disease prevention and longevity.
The primary benefit of intermittent fasting – at least the one most people are interested in – is weight loss, particularly in the form of fat burning. When you stop eating for an extended period of time, your insulin levels decrease, and your body produces more human growth hormone (HGH) and norepinephrine, both of which facilitate the breakdown of stored fats for energy metabolism. In fact, short-term fasting has been shown to boost metabolism by as much as 3.6% to 14%.
In addition to speeding fat burn and supporting weight loss, intermittent fasting is also beneficial for repairing insulin resistance, reducing oxidative stress, boosting heart health, improving brain function, and preventing chronic disease.
Insulin resistance is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, and it is caused by chronically elevated blood sugar. When your blood sugar remains high, your body produces more insulin but, over time, the body’s response to that insulin may become diminished. When this happens, it is called insulin resistance. Numerous studies have shown that intermittent fasting can reduce blood sugar levels and insulin levels and, in doing so, help repair insulin resistance and either prevent or help manage type 2 diabetes.
Free radicals in the body contribute to oxidative stress which, in turn, increases your risk for many chronic diseases. Intermittent fasting helps protect the body against oxidative stress by enhancing its resistance – it also helps fight inflammation. By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, intermittent fasting also supports brain health and function.
When it comes to the benefits of intermittent fasting for heart health, there are many points to cover. Intermittent fasting has been proven to improve numerous cardiac risk factors including blood pressure, LDL cholesterol levels, blood triglycerides, and inflammation. It also helps speed cellular repair processes and slows or stops the growth and spread of cancer cells. Intermittent fasting has shown benefits for other chronic diseases as well which may improve overall health and boost longevity.