Studies show that fasting has numerous health benefits for the body and mind. While results may take a few weeks to show, they would surely have long-term effects. Positive outcomes shall be felt gradually, but upon succeeding and switching over to a sustained fat-burning mode.
You will easily be able to fast for even 18 hrs straight without feeling hungry. The temporary ‘hunger’ some people feel when fasting is caused by a craving for sucrose, which will disappear in a few days’ time after fat burning takes full effect. Results can be further amplified by exercising in a fasted physical state.
Below are some of the top health benefits of fasting.
- Helps burn calories
- Triggers release of growth hormone
- Improves brain functioning
- Improves beneficial bacteria found in the gut
- Reduces oxidative stress
- Lowers risk of heart disease
- Allows for cleansing and detoxification of the body
1. Helps burn calories
During fasting the body switches over to a temporary starvation mode where fats are expended as an alternative source of energy, this consequently leads to faster weight loss which is a good thing for those suffering from obesity.
Apart from cutting back cravings for sugar and snacks, thereby making it simpler to maintain a healthy weight, fasting also helps build leaner more agile muscles especially when done intermittently. In other words, the procedure helps you shed fats without necessarily sacrificing muscle mass.
2. Triggers release of growth hormone
A recent research showed that dieting triggered a 1,300% increase in human growth hormone (HGH) among women, and 2000% in men.
This compound, also known as “the fitness hormone,” plays a significant role in maintaining ample health, fitness, and overall longevity. As well as the promotion of faster muscle growth and enhancing fat loss by increasing metabolism. It works in a similar way to high-intensity interval training when it comes to heightening HGH levels.
3. Improves brain functioning
Fasting also affects brain function by triggering the production of a protein known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or simply BDNF. According to research, by restricting your diet plan to only 600 calories during fasting days, the overall levels of this compound will jump from 50-400% depending on the specific brain part being affected.
It activates the brainstem cells to change into new neurons, hence triggering various positive chemical reactions that promote better neural functioning. This protein also safeguards brain cells from abnormal changes associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
BDNF further expresses itself in neuro-muscular system where it prevents neuro-motor degradation. The compound is a critical element in promoting muscle functioning, without which atrophy may arise.
4. Improves beneficial bacteria found in the gut
Another key benefit of fasting is the improvement of positive bacteria living in the intestines, apart from improving digestion they also help in promoting better sleep, immune system functioning, and energy levels. Some researchers also speculate that this microbial might be useful in preventing conditions like diabetes and obesity.
The most active gut bacteria is known as A. muciniphila, occupying a nutrient-rich dense mucosal layer of the stomach. Researchers found this compound was at abnormally low levels in lab rats that were fed regularly, compared to those that fasted during the entire test period. The bacteria also plays a huge role in reversing inflammation, insulin resistance and fat mass among other related benefits.
5. Reduces oxidative stress
Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance that exists between the production of free radicals and the body’s capacity to counteract/detoxify these harmful effects, through neutralization by antioxidants.
Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules that have one or more mismatched electrons, making them highly reactive when they come into contact with other molecules. While oxygen by-products are largely unreactive, some of them can undergo metabolism inside the digestive system giving rise to reactive oxidants. However, not all oxygenated reactive species are harmful. Some of them actually help in dealing with invading pathogens that may cause disease.
Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative free radicals within the cells, hence preventing oxidative damage of lipids, cellular proteins and even nucleic acids commonly associated with illness and aging. There’s also research showing it could have some major impact on improving health and longevity in people, it inhibits the ‘mTOR pathway’ which plays a role in fostering aging.
6. Lowers risk of heart disease
Fasting boosts mitochondrial performance levels while also preventing insulin resistance, which in turn prevents calorie buildup that may otherwise have negative effects on your heart. Dieting helps the body use fats as its main source of fuel instead of sugar, thereby dramatically reducing the risk of having a terminal coronary disease.
While intermittent fasting definitely helps in improving heart condition, those with underlying health problems like diabetes or hypoglycemia should be careful when planning to fast for extended periods of time. Those suffering from chronic stress conditions or adrenal fatigue should also tread with extra caution.
The same applies to nursing or pregnant mothers who must avoid fasting as well. Babies require plenty of nutrients to flourish both during and after childbirth, fasting would therefore not be recommendable in such situations.
7. Allows for cleansing and detoxification of the body
Fasting stimulates the body to purge off unwanted substances, helping the liver, kidneys, and colon eliminate wastes that may still be present inside the system. Even after the dieting session has lapsed, sticking to fruits and vegetables will still be a great way to maintain cleanliness in the long run.
It’s also been theorized that one of the main contributors of bad breath is a congested colon, getting it cleaned will go a long way in removing foul breath. Note that while your breath may temporarily get worse during detoxification, when the process is over it will actually be better.
Another reported benefit of detoxification is that it makes participants feel lighter and more agile, it’s also important not to overeat after detox so as to maintain the light feeling. Detox also makes one feel good and energetic, something that can strategically be used to shed weight or even start a new dieting plan.
When you focus on fasting as a means of achieving general well-being, you’ll most likely improve other aspects of your life as well. Such as enjoying better relationships, productivity at work and so on. In addition, those who fast regularly often experience improved mental clarity and deeper meditation for spiritual nourishment. For fasting to be effective you need to practice some level of discipline.