Diet

Is Intermittent Fasting as Salutary As It Seems?

An increasingly common weight reduction diet technique is intermittent fasting. However, the diet offers additional advantages that go beyond weight reduction that may lower the chance of acquiring several chronic, lifestyle-related disorders. In this article from Honest Nutrition, we go over all you need to know about intermittent fasting and examine if the buzz is justified.

A wide range of eating behaviors that alternate between times of fasting and eating is referred to as intermittent fasting. A week’s worth of fasting might last anywhere from 12 hours a day to many days in a row, with a regular, recurrent pattern.

These are the primary forms of intermittent fasting:

  • Modified fasting, often known as the 5:2 diet, entails skipping meals on 2 separate days of the week and eating normally on the other 5.
  • Alternating days of fasting with days when you can eat and drink as you usually would without any limitations is known as an alternate-day fast.
  • A kind of intermittent fasting called time-restricted eating restricts the “eating window” to 4–12 hours, resulting in a daily fasting period of 12–20 hours. Without calorie limitations, people eat till they are satisfied within their eating windows.
Time-restricted eating is one of these. The most well-liked source is Trusted Source, and it’s possible that when people talk about intermittent fasting, they mostly mean that. It’s possible that the 16:8 eating pattern, which involves eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours each day, is the most advised one.
 

Circadian Rhythm

The effect of fasting on the body’s natural circadian rhythm is taken into account in a large portion of studies on intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating. Clock-wave rhythmThe 24-hour cycle of metabolism in the body is represented by Trusted Source, also known as the circadian clock. This cycle includes the management of the sleep-wake cycle, blood pressure, mood regulation, and hormone balance, to mention a few.
 
It is affected by eating habits, the timing of meals, and the amount of light and darkness during the day. Increasing Research bodyAccording to a trusted source, eating continuously throughout the day for 12 to 15 hours may mess with your circadian rhythm and put you at a higher risk of developing chronic illnesses including type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
 
Therefore, one of the main purposes of fasting, and more especially of time-restricted eating, is to decrease the amount of time spent eating during the day by lengthening the nighttime fasting period. Chrono-nutrition is the study of the connection between circadian rhythms and the timing of meals.
 

Benefits

Daily fasting intervals of at least 12 hours are thought to be necessary for many of intermittent fasting’s health advantages, however, another study indicates that a minimum of 16 hours may be necessary.
 
Uninterrupted 12- to 36-hour fasting often causes the liver’s glycogen reserves to decrease, changes in general metabolic processes, and improvements in health. Here are a few advantages of intermittent fasting that have been supported by science.
 

1. Decreasing Levels Of Cholesterol

Research on both humans and animals has revealed positive effects on cholesterol levels. The possibility exists that intermittent fasting will lower triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, and raise HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol. Heart disease risk factors include high levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
 

2. Blood Sugar Management

Through a reduction in insulin resistance and an increase in insulin sensitivity, intermittent fasting can enhance blood sugar regulation. As a result, the levels of glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c, and fasting blood sugar are reduced. Indeed, experimental studies in type 2 diabetic adult males showed the promise of intermittent fasting as a treatment strategy that may lessen the requirement for insulin therapy.
 

3. Modifications To Body Composition

Among the most researched impacts of intermittent fasting are modifications to body weight and composition. Numerous studies have demonstrated that intermittent fasting can result in weight loss of 3-7% of body weight in an average of 8 weeks. Additionally, according to research, this technique could lead to fat reduction.
 
Reduced waist circumference, body fat percentage, and visceral fat are some of the effects of fasting in a 14:10 schedule, which involves a 10-hour eating window and a 14-hour daily fast. Thus, metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that raise the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, can be reduced by intermittent fasting.
 

4. Additional Health Gains

Reduced calorie consumption in the evenings and lengthier overnight fasts may reduce inflammation and the risk of breast cancer and other inflammatory diseases, according to a 2015 assessment of 2,650 adult females.
 
Time-restricted eating may dramatically lower the risk of heart disease, according to observational research including 26,092 adult males over 16 years. Intermittent fasting is also being researched about lifespan and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s.
 

Possible Negatives

Intermittent fasting has drawbacks despite its numerous claimed advantages.
 
Although a 2017 analysis found that intermittent fasting may be safe for the heart and metabolic health, some persons may have unpleasant side effects:
  • Heightened hunger pangs
  • An increase in irritation
  • Decreased mood
  • Increased food-related thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Fear of feeling uncontrollable when eating
  • Eating too much during mealtimes
  • Difficulties focusing.
 

Level Of The Evidence

Furthermore, there is little long-term human research on intermittent fasting, and most of it is based on studies on animals. Furthermore, a 2021 review discovered that the majority of results were based on low-quality research, with just six out of 104 stated health advantages of intermittent fasting being backed by moderate- to high-quality data.
 
This indicates that a more thorough human study is required to determine the long-term health advantages of intermittent fasting.
 

Alternatives

There are other diets that have the same advantages as intermittent fasting.
 

Calorie Limitation

The promotion of general health was enhanced by calorie restriction, which involved a reduction of around 25% of daily energy requirements without altering mealtimes. According to several studies, the health benefits of intermittent fasting are comparable to those seen with calorie-restrictive diets.
 
In actuality, the two groups’ results for weight reduction and/or fat loss, body fat percentage, and metabolic risk factors are equal. Research reveals that intermittent fasting may be a more sustainable strategy than calorie restriction since it is better adhered to over longer periods.
 

Mediterranean-Style Diet

A well-known dietary strategy based on the customary eating habits of the Mediterranean region is the Mediterranean diet. Research indicates that long-term adherence to the Mediterranean diet decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 30% after around 5 years, similar to the possible heart-friendly effects of intermittent fasting.
 
More studies on the Mediterranean diet show that it protects against the growth of colorectal cancer and the degeneration of the nervous system in Parkinson’s disease. The ability to attain comparable benefits without fasting is a key advantage of the Mediterranean diet over intermittent fasting.
 

Conclusion

A range of eating behaviors is referred to as intermittent fasting when they alternate between periods of fasting and eating over a week. The most common kind of intermittent fasting, time-restricted eating, lengthens the time spent fasting at night and may lower the chance of developing chronic diseases.
 
Intermittent fasting may assist neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease and enhance cholesterol levels, blood sugar regulation, weight and/or fat reduction, reduce inflammation, and increase longevity.
 
However, human research on intermittent fasting is few and sometimes of low quality, and the majority of it is based on studies of animals. Calorie restriction and the Mediterranean diet are two more non-fasting diets that provide outcomes comparable to intermittent fasting.

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