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Top 9 Intermittent Fasting Benefits You Should Know
Intermittent Fasting

Top 9 Intermittent Fasting Benefits You Should Know

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 19
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9 min

Intermittent fasting is a popular way to lose stubborn weight. Some people follow their own eating schedules, but how does this method actually offer long-term results? We provide the top 9 benefits of intermittent fasting to help you see the possible advantages.

Intermittent fasting benefits

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Intermittent fasting is one way to reduce your body weight. 

Many people choose to have designated eating windows that determine when they eat and when they should fast. Going without food for a certain amount of time can help the body burn fat. Continuous calorie restriction is the key to reaching your long-term weight goals.

There are many fasting methods to choose from. Beginners like a bigger eating window that helps their bodies adjust. Others might need longer fasting periods when losing weight, but that all depends on preference. So, what are the amazing benefits of intermittent fasting?

In this article, you’ll discover the top 9 health benefits of fasting. 

9 Intermittent Fasting Benefits

#1 Weight loss
#2 Reduce inflammation
#3 Increase insulin sensitivity
#4 Autophagy
#5 Improve heart function
#6 Boost immune system
#7 Reduce oxidative stress
#8 May help prevent cancer
#9 Good for the brain

9 Intermittent Fasting Benefits You Should Know About

Fasting produces many health benefits that can make you feel stronger. Changing your eating pattern isn’t just good for weight loss, but it’s also great for improving natural functions in the body. You can even try intermittent fasting methods to challenge yourself over a few weeks. 

Let’s take a look at the top 9 benefits of intermittent fasting: 

#1 Weight loss

One of the main reasons people might try fasting is to lose weight. Eating fewer calories throughout the day means your body starts burning fat for energy, leading to weight loss. Trying a fasting method for 3–24 weeks can help reduce your body fat percentage by 3–8%

You could also lose 4–7% of fat around your waist as the body starts targeting visceral fat. This type of excess weight sits in between abdominal organs and increases the chance of diseases. To see these results, you need to pair fasting with long-distance runs or walks. 

Regular physical activity is the key to losing weight while practicing intermittent fasting. You also need to follow a healthy diet that comprises nutrient-dense foods. Combining all of these methods can increase norepinephrine levels that strengthen the breakdown process of fat cells. 

If you are looking to drop stubborn weight, the 12-hour fast is a good place to start. This involves fasting for 12 hours and then eating regular meals in the remaining 12 hours. Some people might begin their fasting period at 6 PM after their meal and eat again at 6 AM. 

#2 Reduce inflammation

Intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation by slowing the release of monocytes in the bloodstream. These cells are what cause swelling inside of your body. The less inflammation you have, the less likely you’ll develop diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and hepatitis. 

You can also focus on eating anti-inflammatory foods while fasting. Some good examples include tomatoes, spinach, kale, fatty fish, and berries. Pairing this type of diet with intermittent fasting may minimize swelling around your heart valves and gastrointestinal tract.

A healthy gut without inflammation means you won’t experience bloating or serious constipation. It can also protect you against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Many people don’t realize how their gut affects the body’s natural functions, so it’s important to look after your gut microbiome. 

#3 Increase insulin sensitivity

Common fasting methods can lower insulin resistance and help the body regulate insulin levels after meals. Too much insulin causes cells to absorb excess glucose, leading to very low blood glucose levels. Intermittent fasting may stop you from experiencing hypoglycemia symptoms.

Not eating for a set period of time can prevent the body from resisting insulin production. You’re giving the pancreas time to rest, which allows blood sugar levels to drop safely. This is especially good for people who have type 2 diabetes and struggle with insulin resistance. 

#4 Autophagy

Autophagy is a process that helps the body clean out damaged cells. Fasting can trigger this change, as limiting food boosts the “self-eating” of useless components. After just 18 hours to 4 days of intermittent fasting, your body goes into autophagy and builds new cell mechanisms.

Going through autophagy has many health benefits. The body can naturally remove toxic proteins that might contribute to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies even suggest that this cell-cleaning process reduces cancerous cells in the long term.

#5 Improve heart function

Intermittent fasting is one way to strengthen your heart and lower high blood pressure

Since fasting decreases low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol), it prevents plaque from building up in your arteries. Too much plaque often causes high blood pressure that increases the risk of heart disease, narrow blood vessels, metabolic syndrome, and heart failure. 

Changing your daily eating schedule may also limit junk food that boosts systolic blood pressure. You should follow a balanced diet that contains only healthy foods. This dietary switch combined with intermittent fasting can regulate low blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 

Some people might follow the ketogenic diet while fasting. Eating low-carb foods can help push you into ketosis – a metabolic state that burns fat for energy instead of glucose. The keto diet is known to improve blood sugar levels and lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease.

#6 Boost immune system

Intermittent fasting can boost immune responses by strengthening important defense mechanisms. This may prevent certain infections and diseases from entering your body. Since you’re already going through autophagy, the immune system will naturally host stronger cells. 

A healthy immune system produces white blood cells that attack foreign substances. These could be infectious antigens that destroy muscle tone and make you feel weak. Research suggests that fasting reduces chronic inflammation in the immune cells and nerve functions.

#7 Reduce oxidative stress

Oxidative stress refers to the imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals can be dangerous in the body, as they specifically target healthy cells. Intermittent fasting is one way to regulate the balance and remove unstable atoms that might cause cancerous diseases. 

There are many risk factors that derive from oxidative stress. It can break down important cell tissue and damage your DNA. However, a time-restricted diet that involves eating berries, citrus fruits, prunes, lean meat, beans, and dark leafy greens, can solve this cell imbalance. 

#8 May help prevent cancer

Intermittent fasting might help fight off stubborn cancer cells. 

Restricting calories for a certain amount of time links back to autophagy. Your body has a chance to remove unstable cells that may turn into dangerous diseases. Time-restricted feeding could also slow the progression of cancer in those who have already been diagnosed. 

However, there aren’t many clinical trials that prove the long-term effects of fasting on cancer treatments. People going through chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and immunotherapy should speak to a doctor about their new eating plan for reducing cancer symptoms. 

Some research claims that fasting boosts the effectiveness of these treatments. The body is keen on balancing cells and improving your overall health. Just remember that intermittent fasting works differently for everyone, so always speak to a professional beforehand. 

#9 Good for the brain

There are some studies that suggest intermittent fasting helps your brain. It can increase the growth of nerve cells, leading to stronger brain functions. You might have better memory and concentration, which could help those who work from home and need improved focus. 

Any type of alternate-day fasting method may also increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – a hormone that plays a neuronal role in survival and growth. This might ease psychological distress, especially for people who suffer from anxiety and depression. 

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that switches between cycles of fasting and eating. Someone might choose to fast for 12 hours and eat for the remaining hours. This type of schedule can help you lose weight and achieve better health overall. 

There are many methods you can try when fasting for the first time. You could do alternate-day fasting, which involves fasting every other day. This gives people more freedom in their eating schedule, especially if you’re a beginner and don’t want to throw yourself in head first. 

Not eating for a certain amount of time is supposed to help the body burn fat. After your last meal, you’ll avoid food until the eating window begins. During that time, your energy storage will run low, so the body targets harmful fat and stored sugar to ensure everything runs smoothly.

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If you need more guidance, downloading a fasting app might help. The DoFasting app is one option that gives you the most popular intermittent fasting types. From 36-hour fasts to simple beginner programs, everyone will find something that suits their weight loss preferences. 

You can also scan through healthy meal recommendations created by professional nutritionists. There are over 5,000 recipes that can boost your fat loss progress. Intermittent fasting is all about finding a routine that works, so DoFasting offers many tips and tricks. 

Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy?

Yes, intermittent fasting is healthy for those who do it properly. It has many health benefits contributing to weight loss, heart health, immune function, and gut stability. Just make sure not to go overboard with fasting and always start with the easy methods.

Some people might believe that time-restricted eating is unhealthy. This isn’t the case, as you’re only reducing calories for a few hours. Most of that time, you’ll be sleeping and won’t need food anyway. Fasting only becomes dangerous when you do it for too long and don’t eat afterward.

However, certain people should avoid intermittent fasting. Those with a history of eating disorders often stay away from this method. Disordered eating is not healthy and might bring back trauma, so it’s better to find alternative weight loss strategies. 

The same goes for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Not eating for long periods can harm your baby’s growth and even lead to deficiencies in breast milk. Always talk to a doctor before trying to lose weight through an intermittent fast diet. 

Intermittent fasting might also be unhealthy for those with sleep problems, intensive training sessions, digestive issues, and a weak immune system. You don’t want to raise more health issues by following extreme fasting methods that prove to be super challenging. 

How Long Should You Do Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is only a short-term goal that should not exceed longer than six months. There are people who go over this, but your body needs to follow a normal routine again. You can start with the 12-hour fast and do that every other day. 

Everyone has unique weight loss goals that determine their fasting method, dietary preferences, and exercise routine. For example, someone who wants to lose 20 pounds might intermittently fast for two months and use the 16/8 method to burn off some stubborn calories. 

It all depends on what you want to achieve through fasting. Speak to a healthcare professional if you’re unsure about setting the right time frame. Just remember it takes at least 2–4 weeks for intermittent fasting to work, so don’t expect to see physical changes quickly. 

Never follow extreme methods that claim to rapidly burn off fat. This will damage your body and increase the risk of high blood sugar levels and certain chronic diseases (like type 2 diabetes). Losing weight and feeling healthy takes time, so try not to rush this process. 

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose fat and improve your general health. This method might not be for everyone, but it’s still great for both beginners and advanced fasters. Lots of human studies suggest that fasting can build muscle tone, leading to stronger workouts.

Some people believe you have to skip breakfast and only eat lunch and an evening meal. However, this is not the case, as you can still have breakfast when the eating window begins. You shouldn’t skip important meals that fuel your body during long fasting periods.

Just remember to seek medical advice if you have certain health conditions. It’s not worth making your condition worse, so never start fasting without professional help. Those with advanced diabetes and who are on strong medication should also speak to their doctor.

Conclusion

Are the benefits of intermittent fasting worth it?

You can try fasting for many different reasons. Reducing your calories for a set period of time can help the body burn that unwanted fat. It could also regulate insulin levels and help manage common symptoms of diabetes, so it’s worth trying this method for a few weeks. 
The DoFasting app may also help you on your journey. From over 5,000 recipes and 20 unique diets, you’ll find something suitable for your preferences. You can find daily motivation boosts that offer positive affirmations, leading to increased determination when losing some weight.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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