Every diet that actually works has one thing at its core: calorie reduction.
Whether eating certain foods increases fat burning or scheduling your meals at different times actually improves digestion is widely debated, but the fact that eating less causes weight loss is indisputable. And what provides greater calorie reduction than fasting?
Many religions include periods of fasting, saying it is good for the soul.
Proponents say that fasting is a healthy way to rid the body of toxins and maintain control of cravings. But not everyone has the discipline to fast, plus there is always a real risk of putting your body into starvation mode, which means it won’t give up its fat stores. The perfect solution? Intermittent fasting!
Instead of a 10-day cleanse or month-long juice fast, intermittent fasting works by doing shorter fasts.
Intermittent fasting plans include everything from limiting the time you allow yourself for eating each day to fasting one or two days a week. These short-term fasts between periods of regular eating decrease caloric intake without risking starvation mode or ketosis. It is also much easier to maintain as a lifestyle. But does it work?
- Many studies have found that calorie restriction extends life, but research supports additional benefits of eating less, and specifically using intermittent fasting instead of continuous calorie reduction. According to Scientific American, restricting food intake can lower the risks of diseases, which could give you a healthier life.
- A study found that mice who engaged in periodic fasting showed greater signs of health than subjects who used continuous caloric restriction. Researchers found that the mice doing intermittent fasting had lower blood glucose and insulin levels. This correlates to a lower risk of developing diabetes as well as a higher insulin sensitivity. The body’s sensitivity to insulin is important because a reduced sensitivity is linked to heart failure, diabetes, and obesity. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose. People who live longer lives typically have low insulin levels, which is theorized to indicate that their high sensitivity means that they need less insulin.
- A study performed at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that mice who ate fatty foods but were limited to only eight hours per day of eating did not have high insulin levels. They also did not get fat.
To try intermittent fasting without too much hassle, limit how many hours of the day you allow yourself to eat.
Start with only eating within a 12-hour period, such as 7 or 8 am to 7 or 8 pm. You can then gradually shrink this time to 10 hours as you adjust, and then ideally 8 hours. Skipping breakfast is an easy way to achieve this. Having an early lunch at 11am and finishing dinner by 7 pm would be a simple way intermittent fasting could work to improve your health.
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