If you want to know the health benefits of fasting, this article will show you science-backed reasons to fast regularly.
I’ve talked about the side effects of intermittent fasting. But the truth is that most of those side effects are short term.
Don’t shy away from fasting because it may cause brain fog. Research shows that the benefits of fasting outweigh the side effects.
Some people fast for spiritual reasons, but fasting can also enhance weight loss, promote longevity and much more.
Before we look into the benefits of fasting, here are 5 popular ways to do intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting methods
- 5:2 diet: This is basically eating normally for 5 days then reducing your calorie intake to 500 calories a day for two days.
- Eat stop eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. Learn more about this method here.
- 16/8 method: This is the most popular intermittent fasting method. It involves fasting for 16 hours and then you’re allowed to eat during the 8-hour window, every day.
- Warrior diet: For this diet, you should eat fruits and veggies during the day and one huge meal for dinner.
- Alternate-day fasting: Involves fasting after every one or two days. You could restrict yourself from eating or eat 500 calories on fasting days.
Now, let’s look into the benefits of fasting.
Health-based reasons to fast
1. May boost growth hormone
The growth hormone plays a vital role in the body. It boosts metabolism, fat loss, and muscle growth.
Well, research shows that fasting for 24 hours can increase growth hormone levels by up to 2000 percent.
Fasting also boosts other hormones like testosterone. In this study, a short Ramadhan fast increased testosterone utilization by 180 percent in non-obese men.
2. May improve insulin sensitivity
Improving insulin sensitivity can help lower risk of type II diabetes or help manage diabetes.
The results of this study show that fasting makes the cells more sensitive to insulin which consequently lowers blood sugar levels.
There’s more research showing that fasting can improve blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
3. May help you live longer
Evidence shows that eating less promotes longevity while overeating shortens lifespan.
In fact, researchers say that animals that fast regularly can live up to 80 percent longer than those who don’t.
It has also been observed that people live longer in cultures where fasting is practiced.
4. May help you manage hunger
Are you one of those people who munch after every 3 hours? Fasting for more than 12 hours can help you learn to manage hunger.
Going without food for hours may be challenging the first time but you’ll get used to it. And after a while, you’ll learn to differentiate real hunger and cravings.
5. May help you lose weight
First, fasting will help you consume fewer calories. For instance, the 5:2 diet can easily help you maintain a calorie deficit of 2000- 3000 calories a week.
Second, research shows that fasting can boost metabolism by up to 14 percent, allowing you to burn more calories.
The participants in this study lost 3-8 percent of their body weight in 24 weeks, thanks to intermittent fasting. Fasting also helped reduce their waist circumference by up to 7 percent.
6. May repair cells
Science shows that occasional fasting can repair damaged cells and remove toxins in the cells.
Repairing cells can lower risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases. In fact, researchers say that cell regeneration can improve chemotherapy tolerance and strength immune system.
7. May prevent heart disease
Fasting can lower risk of heart disease because it lowers bad cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
In one study, researchers found that men and women who fasted once a month had a 58 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those who didn’t fast.
The fact that fasting prevents insulin resistance also helps lower risk of heart disease.
8. May lower risk of cancer
Making the right dietary choices can help prevent cancer. While eating sugar, red meat, and processed foods can increase cancer risk.
Not eating can also prevent cancer. According to this animal study, fasting can lower risk of cancer.
9. May strengthen immune function
Fasting can strengthen the immune system and fight inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
Research shows that fasting can reduce oxidative stress and consequently prevent different diseases and fast aging.
In fact, in one study, researchers found that fasting for 72 hours can regenerate the entire immune system.
10. May improve brain function
According to this study, fasting helps improve brain function in several ways. It enhances the growth of neurons, improves memory, and helps the brain recover from injuries or stroke.
Fasting can help prevent brain-related diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s or improve brain function in people who already have these conditions.
11. May rejuvenate your skin
If you struggle with acne and other skin diseases, fasting may help clear your skin. For one thing, fasting reduces chances of eating processed foods which cause acne.
Second, eating after every 3 hours forces the body to focus most of its energy in digestion. Fasting will allow the body to focus its energy on the skin and other organs.
Lastly, research shows that fasting can help heal wounds on your skin.
12. May speed up post-workout recovery
Fasting can help you recover faster from intense workouts. And the best part is that fasting doesn’t lower workout performance.
This study found that participants who lifted weights in a fasted state experienced faster post-workout recovery. Fasting has also been proven to speed up recovery in endurance training.
13. May improve breathing conditions
Fasting can be beneficial to people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Note that there is no scientific evidence to back this claim but some experts say that fasting can fix breathing problems.
14. May heal your gut
Fasting can help heal a leaky gut. Drinking water while fasting helps cleanse the digestive tract. This removes the toxins and microorganisms in the gut.
In fact, research shows that fasting can treat abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
15. May ease chronic pain
This study found that fasting can help ease chronic pain. This means fasting can be beneficial to people who struggle with arthritis, chronic headaches, and so on.
Fasting can improve your health and help you live longer. But remember to talk to a doctor before you fast. Some studies show that fasting has negative side effects on pregnant women.
For someone who has never fasted before I would recommend trying the 16/8 intermittent fasting method. It’s the best method for beginners.
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