I have not yet made a post about this, but over the past 12 weeks, I have been on a quest to get into the best shape of my life. I am a major health and nutrition geek and I have slowly been making changes to my diet and lifestyle over the years to create something very healthy, enjoyable and effective, which is also sustainable over the long-term.
The most recent change that I have made to my daily eating regime has been to squeeze my daily calorie intake into an 8-hour window so that my body is in a fasted state for 16 hours every day. So typically, for myself, I’m eating every day between the hours of noon and 8 pm. Outside of those hours, I am able to drink black coffee in the mornings, carbonated water like Perrier and herbal teas that don’t have any added sugars or calories. It has only been about 11 days for me so far, but I have found this eating regime to be extremely effective, easy to maintain and actually quite enjoyable. The best thing about intermittent fasting is that if you are putting your body into a calorie deficit, it hardly feels like you are because by the time lunch time comes around, you have so many calories to squeeze into your 8-hour window that your meals feel quite large and very satisfying.
Now, besides intermittent fasting being a great tool to use when trying to cut down on body fat, it also has a slew of health benefits that can help you to live a healthier and longer life. This is also a very important aspect of this eating regime for myself, and one of the biggest reasons why I’m likely to keep this regime up for months and possibly years to come, even while trying to gain lean mass.
Here are a few of the benefits of following an intermittent fasting eating regime:
Intermittent Fasting Alters the Function of your Cells, Genes and Hormones
While in a fasted state, your body will change the way that it operates at a cellular level. Since it does not need to spend so much energy on digestion it can focus more of its energy towards things like cellular repairs and it will alter hormones so that fat becomes a more easily accessible source of energy for the body.
Blood levels of insulin will drop significantly, which aids in fat metabolism.
Blood levels of Human Growth Hormone can increase drastically, as much as 5 times normal, and this can aid in muscle growth, fat loss and has numerous other benefits to the body.
The body will become much more efficient at removing waste at a cellular level and repairing cellular damage.
There are beneficial changes that can occur within several genes and molecules related to longevity and disease protection.
Intermittent Fasting Boosts Metabolism and Facilitates Increased Fat Loss
Due to lower insulin levels, higher Human Growth Hormone and increased amounts of norepinephrine, also known as noradrenaline, the body becomes much more efficient at metabolising fat and using it as a source of energy for the body.
Short-term fasting has been shown to actually increase the metabolic rate in humans by 3.6%-14% because of these physiological changes in the body, and since it’s harder to pack in the calories during an 8-hour eating window, most people also take in fewer calories than they normally would be able to eat in a day. Which means more calories out and fewer calories in.
One study has even shown that intermittent fasting can reduce muscle loss during calorie restriction when compared to daily calorie restriction in general.
Intermittent Fasting Can Lower the Risk of Developing Type-2 Diabetes by reducing Insulin Resistance
Intermittent fasting can help the body to lower and stabilise blood sugar levels in humans.
Some studies have shown reductions in fasting blood sugar levels by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels of 20-31%.
One study in diabetic rats also showed that intermittent fasting protected against kidney damage, one of the most severe complications of diabetes.
Intermittent Fasting Reduces Oxidative Stress on the Body
Studies have shown that the bodies ability to fight free radicals can improve while following an intermittent fasting eating regime and that markers of inflammation are also reduced. Both of these factors lead towards ageing of the body through damage to the cells within and can lead to health issues and diseases.
Intermittent Fasting Can Improve Heart Health
Intermittent Fasting has been shown to improve blood pressure, lower over and LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels in animals leading to overall improved heart health.
More scientific studies are still needed to be performed on humans, however.
Intermittent fasting may provide a host of other health benefits such as a reduction in the risk for many types of cancers, improved brain function, prevention of Alzheimers disease and lifespan extension.
So for these reasons, and to meet personal fitness goals that I have set for myself, I have decided to follow an Intermittent Fasting eating schedule. So far in my experience, the benefits have all been positive. In the first few days, I would feel a little hungry in the morning, especially a few hours before I would break my fast, but the body adapts to this eating routine eventually and the hunger becomes more and more bearable, often even non-existent. During the fasted state I feel sharp, focused and productive with energy to spare most of the time. After I break my fast, my energy levels skyrocket again and I continue to feel great. One of my worst eating habits before had been late night snacking and this pretty much has crushed that problem for me. At the end of the day, I like to stuff myself with something very thick and filling like a big bowl of oatmeal with lots of fruit and cottage cheese just to make me feel really full before I begin the next fasting phase. This helps to keep me from feeling hungry late at night.
Overall, I love Intermittent Fasting at this point and plan to keep it up for the foreseeable future. I enjoy eating fewer but much larger meals. I enjoy cooking less frequently and having fewer dishes to clean on a regular basis. It simplifies my mornings and my life in general. I would recommend this regime to anyone that feels like experimenting with new methods for improving their health or physique. There is a lot of great information on the web and quite a few studies proving the benefits of this choice of lifestyle. I will add a blog post of my progress pictures at some point for anyone interested in following me through this journey. I hope you learned something!