Intermittent fasting is being recognized more and more for its fat-burning, health promoting properties. Here are some of the powerful effects of fasting
Food is essential for sustaining life and providing our bodies with valuable vitamins and minerals. This doesn’t mean, however, that we need a constant supply of it every three or so hours.
The human body is so much more resilient and won’t malfunction all of a sudden because you skipped a meal or two. Fasting, in fact, is actually quite healthy and will benefit your body in more ways than one; if done right, it may just help you achieve a lean and mean physique.
If you’re still on the fences about intermittent fasting, then here are 11 ways that fasting benefits the body, mind, and soul.
Benefit #1: Fasting Helps You Burn Fat
Fasting doesn’t just help you lose weight, it helps you burn fat. That’s provided, of course, that you do it the right way. How does it do this? Generally, when you fast, you are also consuming fewer calories since you are having fewer meals. A calorie deficit, as you may know, is absolutely necessary for weight loss.
Also, by fasting, you are depleting your body of blood sugar (glycogen). With depleted glycogen stores, your body turns to fat stores for energy. On top of that, fasting is also believed to increase adipose tissue hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). This is an enzyme believed to be responsible for releasing fat from adipose (fat) cells in order to be burned as energy.
Fasting also increases production of muscle tissue lipoprotein lipase (LPL), another enzyme that shuttles the released fat into muscle cells where it’s expended as fuel.
As mentioned, most of the weight you lose from fasting will be from fat. Many people are on the fences about fasting due to the mainstream belief that going for prolonged periods without food also burns muscle. This is only true if your fasting lasts for days on end.
If taken to such extremes, then you are starving yourself, not fasting. Intermittent fasting, which usually lasts for about 16 hours, has in fact been shown in studies to amplify the secretion of growth hormones. In the study, non-obese men who underwent fasting saw an average testosterone increase of 180%!
To further ensure muscle preservation, it’s also recommended that you maintain a resistance training regimen and exercise during a fasted state while supplementing with a BCAA supplement like Revolt.
Benefit #2: Intermittent Fasting Does the Brain Good
Yes, it’s true that the brain needs nourishment just as much as the rest of the body. However, this doesn’t mean you need six meals a day to keep the brain functioning optimally. In fact, temporary food deprivation may actually boost cognitive function.
This was proven in this study where mice deprived of food for a short period outperformed a control group in various cognitive tasks. Some college students are now even known to fast in the days before a major exam because it helps them maintain their focus.
You see, the brain is very much like muscle in the sense that it gets stronger when placed under stress. Muscles grow when stressed from heavy resistance training. Likewise, the brain becomes stronger and produces new neural cells when mildly stressed from the lack of food intake.
Studies show that fasting raises levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF). A deficiency in BDNF has been linked to brain problems, such as depression and memory loss.
Benefit #3: Intermittent Fasting Promotes Healthy Eating Habits
Fasting has been known to help people who struggle with compulsive and binge eating disorders. More importantly, it helps the body relearn what true hunger is. If you eat every three hours day in and out, your body forgets what it feels like to be truly hungry. This is not good.
Why is it a good thing to ignore a growling stomach? The feeling of hunger triggers the body to regulate and release the right balance of hormones, particularly those that regulate appetite.
Those who are obese often develop excessive eating patterns and binge indiscriminately because their bodies no longer receive the signals that tell them they’re full. This is due to their hormone levels being out of whack, caused by the constant intake of food. By fasting, you allow your body to “reset” its cycle back to default.
Being hungry isn’t a pleasant sensation, but it’s worth letting your body go through the feeling every now and then to help restore hormone regulation and bodily rhythms that may be out of balance.
Benefit #4: Intermittent Fasting Cleanses the Body
Supplement manufacturers these days release all sorts of detox supplements that supposedly flush harmful toxins that have built up in your body as a result of years of poor dietary choices. Why waste your money on pricey supplements that may not even work when you can get the same benefits through an intermittent fast that costs you nothing?
The body expends a great deal of energy on digestion. When you eat six meals a day on a daily basis, that is a lot of energy used that could have been used elsewhere. When you fast, your body suddenly has additional energy since it no longer has to work overtime to convert that cheeseburger you ate into usable energy. Your body now has energy for functions that normally take a back seat, such as removing waste and toxins.
Many people actually report feeling “lighter” and refreshed after several weeks of fasting two to four times a week. This is due to the removal of bodily impurities that cause fatigue, lethargy, and memory fog.
It’s important to note, however, that fasting taken to the extreme can actually have the opposite effect and inhibit the body’s ability to excrete waste. Much of the detoxification process is carried out by good bacteria in the colon and the mucus membranes that line the colon wall and prevent discarded waste from reentering the bloodstream and muscle tissue.
When you go beyond an intermittent fast and go without food for consecutive days, you seriously deprive your body of vitamins and minerals needed for healthy colon function.
Benefit #5: Intermittent Fasting Increases Libido
Some men have especially reported an increase in sex drive when undergoing a fast. Blood plays a large role in digestion, and when there’s no food to digest, the blood is relieved from that duty, thus freeing it for other functions.
As discussed, intermittent fasting also increases testosterone. Elevated T production has been linked to an increased sperm count and sperm motility. Testosterone replacement therapy, in fact, is often prescribed for men experiencing low libido or having trouble performing in the bedroom.
In this respects, intermittent fasting has an indirect, positive effect in maintaining heightened sexual desires and interest.
Now, this isn’t to say that fasting will transform you into a sex monster. It does, however, suggest a correlation between fasting and sex drive that should not be ignored, and it definitely warrants further studies.
Benefit #6: Intermittent Fasting Promotes Healthy Sleep Cycles
This study showed that not only does intermittent fasting improve sleep quality but also improved concentration and alertness during waking hours. Some people who fast also report sleeping less without feeling the usual daytime fatigue the day after.
It’s also believed that fasting may help individuals combat the effects of jet lag. Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois devised what is now known as the Argonne Anti-Jet-Lag diet. It’s a well-known fact that sleep cycles are determined in part, by exposure to natural sunlight.
Well, researchers from the study theorized that sleep is also partially regulated by the frequency and timing of food intake.
In their study, the team discovered that U.S. National Guard troops that fasted the week before a trip from their home base in Chicago to Korea were 7.5 times less likely to experience jet lag compared to a control group. The troops followed the same routine a week before their return trip home and were 16.2 times less likely than the control to experience sleep disturbances.
The diet has become so popular that it has now been used by other members of the US Military as well as the CIA and the Canadian National Swim Team just to list a few.
The study has also since been updated. Apparently, you can experience the same benefits by simply fasting for 16 hours before your first meal at the new time zone.
If you’re a frequent traveler, then definitely consider fasting as a tool for quickly acclimating yourself to the new time zone.
Benefit #7: Intermittent Fasting Is a Heart-Healthy Practice
A lot of foods have been touted as being good for the heart, such as whole wheat, fish, and various fruits and vegetables. However, no food at all may be just as heart-healthy as intermittent fasting.
A study from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute revealed that fasting lowered the risk of coronary disease as well as lowering blood cholesterol levels and decreasing the risk for type II diabetes. Similar studies yielded near identical results, showing that those who regularly fasted were 58% less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease.
While the correlation isn’t completely understood, it’s believed that fasting stresses the body. The body responds to the stress by activating protective mechanisms, such as releasing growth hormones, that may have beneficial long-term effects on cardiovascular health.
Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in America, this is all the more reason to incorporate intermittent fasting as part of a healthy lifestyle. The other part includes making sound food choices, such as whole fruits and vegetables, while limiting sugary and refined treats to your cheat day.
Benefit #8: Intermittent Fasting May Help You Overcome Harmful Addictions
Addiction to alcohol or smoking is not exactly something that you can just quit cold turkey. The withdrawal symptoms are often too powerful and makes you a prisoner in your own body.
Of course, there are all sorts of methods and techniques, such as 12-steps programs and hypnosis for overcoming addictions. Unbeknownst to most people, fasting may also be a helpful trick for alleviating the grasp of withdrawal symptoms.
Here’s why it works: the body has a natural register of what it perceives as pleasurable and what it perceives as repugnant.
Take smoking, for instance; smoking for the first time feels repugnant to your senses. If you continue to light up, however, the body not only becomes used to it, but it begins to sense cigarette smoking as pleasurable to the point where your body constantly craves for it, hence the addiction-forming habit.
It’s believed that fasting helps restore your sensory register back to normal. This means that, within a few days of fasting, smoking begins to feel distasteful again just as it was the first time you lit up.
Fasting can be a powerful tool for overcoming most addictions, such as alcohol, recreational drugs, or junk food. Fasting alone, though, may or may not help you completely overcome your addiction depending on level of severity. In any case, treat it as a supplement to the 12-step program or whatever method you’re using to counteract the insatiable cravings.
Benefit #9: Intermittent Fasting May Alleviate Arthritis Pain
In one study, rheumatoid arthritis patients that underwent a fasting program reported some degree of relief and were able to get by without their routine use of pain medication.
The same study also studied the effects of a vegetarian diet on arthritis. After a meat-free diet for nine weeks, subjects reported no difference in their pain and discomfort levels.
Clearly, there is a link between fasting and pain relief, though the connection is not completely understood at this point. It’s certainly worth a try if you’re no longer a young stallion and are beginning to feel your joints stiffen and ache.
Benefit #10: Intermittent Fasting Prolongs Your Life
According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. is ranked number 34 when it comes to life expectancy. That’s not so bad considering that it’s out of 198 countries. However, there’s no doubt that the U.S.’ ranking would be so much higher if it wasn’t for the typical western diet.
If you want to live a longer and hearty life beyond the average life expectancy, then intermittent fasting just might tack on a few years to your life. Studies have shown that fasting can completely regenerate the immune system by depleting old white blood cells and producing new ones.
Some doctors are even recommending fasting for people whose immune systems have been weakened from illness or chemotherapy.
In another study, human subjects that fasted for just five days out of the month for three months saw a vast improvement in their health, including lowered blood glucose, reduced inflammation, reduced oxidative damage, and reduction in risk factors associated with aging.
The U.S. population has an average life expectancy of 79-years. If you could add a few extra years to that by fasting, then isn’t it worth the occasional hunger pang?
Benefit #11: Intermittent Fasting Promotes Spiritual Well-Being
You may or may not be a spiritual or religious person. Even if you’re not, fasting has been shown to promote a sense of inner well-being that you can certainly appreciate.
Fasting is a part of many religious practices. In some customs, it’s believed that fasting helps you connect with the spirit world. Others believe that it balances your chakras, while others believe it activates your third eye, leaving you open to spiritual insights and enlightenment.
Of course, all of this is beyond science, so none of it can be proven. Many people, though, have reported more profound experiences during meditation, prayer, yoga practice, or greater body/spirit connection after having fasted.
Fasting Is a Proven Science
Fasting is incredibly powerful for fat loss. You will certainly shed the flab if fasting is done correctly, but you will also reap so much more out of it.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a whole lot of food to stay nourished and replenished. Going for a few hours more than usual without food has been validated to do the body all sorts of good. It just may be the closest thing there is to a fountain of youth, so don’t you owe it to yourself to at least consider it as a legitimate practice?
If you want to get the maximal benefits from intermittent fasting, then you should couple fasting with Tea Rexx. Combining the two is the perfect formula for shredding fat and getting a chiseled six pack!.