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Is Intermittent Fasting Worth It?

Posted by Total Access Medical on Feb 20, 2024

Intermittent FastingIntermittent fasting is an increasingly popular weight loss dieting strategy. Beyond weight loss however, the diet has promising benefits that may reduce the risk of developing some chronic, lifestyle diseases.

Intermittent fasting is a term used to describe a variety of eating patterns that have alternating periods of fasting — abstinence from foods — and eating.

The fasting period may last from 12 hours per day to several consecutive days, with a consistent, recurring pattern over the course of a week.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting are attributed to daily fasting periods of no less than 12 hours, although some research suggests that a minimum of 16 hours of fasting may be required.

Generally, during 12–36 hours of uninterrupted fasting, the liver glycogen stores become depleted, overall metabolic processes are altered, and positive health effects are observed.

Here are some of the science-backed benefits of intermittent fasting.

1. Improved cholesterol levels

Findings across animal and human research show favorable changes in cholesterol levels.

Intermittent fasting has the potential to reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol.

Elevated total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are risk factors for heart disease.

2. Blood sugar control

Intermittent fasting can improve blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance, and increasing insulin sensitivity.

This results in lower fasting blood sugar and glycated hemoglobin — HbA1c — levels.

In fact, experimental research in adult males with type 2 diabetes showed the potential for intermittent fasting as a therapeutic approach that may reduce the need for insulin therapy.

3. Changes in body composition

Changes in body weight and composition are among the most studied effects of intermittent fasting.

Several studies have shown that weight loss of between 3–7% body weight in an average of 8 weeks was achievable through intermittent fasting. Research also noted that this method could result in fat loss.

Fasting in a 14:10 pattern — an eating window of 10 hours and a daily fast of 14 hours — can act on the risk factors of metabolic syndrome, including by reducing waist circumference, body fat percentage, and visceral fat.

Intermittent fasting can thus ease metabolic syndrome, a set of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

4. Other health benefits

A 2015 review of 2,650 adult females indicated that reducing calorie intake in the evenings, and fasting for longer periods at night, may lower inflammation and the risk of breast cancer and other inflammatory conditions.

Observational research of 26,092 adult males over a 16-year period suggested that reducing late-night eating through time-restricted eating may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.

Other areas of health that intermittent fasting is being explored in include longevity and neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease.

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