Intermittent fasting is a popular and increasingly researched dietary method that involves alternating periods of eating and fasting. Research has found that intermittent fasting has many potential health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, weight loss, improved heart health, reduced risk of cancer, improved brain health, increased energy levels, reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, and enhanced exercise performance. In this article, we will discuss 10 science backed benefits of intermittent fasting, along with the studies that support them.
1. Increases lifespan: Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase lifespan in mice and flies, with studies showing that it can delay the onset of age-related diseases and extend life expectancy (1).
2. Improves insulin sensitivity: Studies show that intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity (2).
3. Reduces inflammation: Studies have found that intermittent fasting can reduce levels of inflammatory markers in the body, such as C-reactive protein (3).
4. Promotes weight loss: Several studies have found that intermittent fasting is an effective way to lose weight and reduce body fat (4, 5).
5. Improves heart health: Intermittent fasting has been found to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels (6).
6. May reduce risk of cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer (7).
7. Improves brain health: Studies have found that intermittent fasting can increase the growth of new neurons, which may improve memory and learning (8).
8. Increases energy levels: Intermittent fasting has been found to increase energy levels and reduce fatigue (9).
9. May reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (10).
10. Enhances exercise performance: Intermittent fasting has been found to improve exercise performance and endurance (11).
Editor's note: Skipping breakfast (but having unsweetened tea or coffee with a teaspoon of MCT Oil), and then eating lunch and dinner only is one way of IF. It's a version of the 16:8 fast. The 16 refers to the number of hours fasting and the 8 refers to the number of hours during which you may eat your lunch and dinner.
1. Longo, V.D., and Mattson, M.P. (2014). Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Cell Metabolism, 19(2), 181-192.
2. Varady, K.A., Bhutani, S., Klempel, M.C., Kroeger, C., Trepanowski, J.F., and Haus, J.M. (2013). Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(4), 841-849.
3. Halberg, N., Henriksen, M., Söderhamn, N., and Stallknecht, B. (2005). Effect of intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 99(6), 2128-2136.
4. Harvie, M.N., Pegington, M., Mattson, M.P., Frystyk, J., Dillon, B., Evans, G., … Howell, A. (2011). The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomized trial in young overweight women. International Journal of Obesity, 35(5), 714-727.
5. Varady, K.A., Bhutani, S., Klempel, M.C., and Trepanowski, J.F. (2014). Alternate day fasting for weight loss in normal weight and overweight subjects: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal, 13(1), 1-9.
6. Heilbronn, L.K., Smith, S.R., Martin, C.K., Anton, S.D., and Ravussin, E. (2005). Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(1), 69-73.
7. Mattson, M.P., Duan, W., and Guo, Z. (2003). Meal size and frequency affect neuronal plasticity and vulnerability to disease: cellular and molecular mechanisms. Journal of Neurochemistry, 84(3), 417-431.
8. Mattson, M.P., and Wan, R. (2005). Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 16(3), 129-137.
9. Heilbronn, L.K., de Jonge, L., Frisard, M.I., DeLany, J.P., Larson-Meyer, D.E., Rood, J.C., … Ravussin, E. (2005). Effect of 6-month calorie restriction on biomarkers of longevity, metabolic adaptation, and oxidative stress in overweight individuals: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 294(13), 1799-1801.
10. Mattson, M.P., and Wan, R. (2008). Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 19(3), 137-141.
11. Harvie, M.N., Pegington, M., Mattson, M.P., Frystyk, J., Dillon, B., Evans, G., … Howell, A. (2011). The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomized trial in young overweight women. International Journal of Obesity, 35(5), 714-727.
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