Intermittent Fasting: The Science Behind Why It Works
July 21, 2021
Intermittent fasting became popular among healthcare experts and wellness enthusiasts due to the benefits it provides.
Regardless of its popularity, there are still people who doubt whether intermittent fasting is truly as good as it seems.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of intermittent fasting and the recent scientific research that backs them up.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern in which individuals have specific times to eat. The time where people don’t consume any foods is known as fasting.
There are many different fasting methods. For example, some people choose to fast for 16-hours twice per week while others do 24-hour fasting twice per week.
What Are the Benefits of Doing Intermittent Fasting?
Primarily, IF can be beneficial for weight loss management. Also, overweight people who are at risk of developing diabetes can greatly benefit from IF. Nevertheless, for those who already have diabetes, it is only recommended to do fasting under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
The manifestation of certain chronic illnesses is more severe in obese adults. Therefore, using fasting to keep a healthy weight is also beneficial to treat such chronic illnesses. For example, fasting can be beneficial for people with hypertension, asthma, or rheumatoid arthritis.
There’s also evidence that, in mice, fasting can promote the regeneration of immune cells, aid in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, and promote the production of protective gut microbia (which is crucial to treat inflammatory bowel diseases). Nevertheless, further studies are necessary to verify if fasting can provide these benefits to humans.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The effectiveness of losing weight through intermittent fasting relies on allowing the insulin levels to drop down. Let’s break down how this process works:
First, when we eat, enzymes break down the food into sugar, which is essential for cells to use as energy. However, if our cells have more sugar than they need to use, such sugar is stored in fat cells. Unless fat cells release their sugar, the body won’t be able to use it as energy, and it will become fat. For fat cells to release their sugar, it is necessary to lower our insulin levels.
What Are the Mistakes that Prevent Intermittent Fasting From Being Effective?
A study from 2020 stated that IF had a negative effect since it contributed to muscle mass loss. With that information, experts came up with the conclusion that the following extra guidelines are needed for IF to work in a healthy way:
It is important to do fasting with a healthy and sustainable approach. Most importantly, fasting should not feel like you are starving yourself.
Experts recommend that it is best to do fasting during the nighttime. This way, people can obtain energy from foods to perform daytime activities. For example, a study found fasting to be effective and sustainable with cycles where people ate meals from 7 am to 3 pm. With this fasting approach, there was an improvement in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in appetite.
Plenty of fasting methods suggest that as long as you stick to meal restriction cycles, it doesn’t matter what you eat. This approach could not be further than the truth.
When doig IF, it is essential to eat healthy foods. Otherwise, you will deprive your body of essential nutrients and experience discomfort and health issues such as experiencing fatigue and losing muscle mass.
Are you considering trying intermittent fasting? At Z.E.N. Foods, we offer IF options and deliver delicious, nutritionally balanced meals right to your door. Reach out to us at (310) 205-9368 for more info!