So does it?
By Alyosha J. Robillos | Photo by Alex Iby/Unsplash
We’ve been talking about intermittent fasting a lot these days, and it’s not just us. As far as health fads go, it’s way up there on the list of popular “trendy diets.”
We’ve already established in a previous article that intermittent fasting is neither a trend nor a diet—it’s an eating schedule that pushes your body to burn fat more effectively by tweaking the levels of your energy reserves. In simpler terms, it forces your body to use fat as energy and that, in turn, leads to a leaner physique.
“I’ve actually been recommending intermittent fasting to a [lot] of people for its health benefits, among which is fat loss… I think the reason intermittent fasting has become so popular is that it works and it’s relatively easy to do,” says Dahlia Conde, chef and owner of Artemis Artisanal Food Company, a meal preparation brand that specializes in paleo menu items and meal plans for CrossFit athletes.
We already know that intermittent fasting is relatively easy to get into compared to other weight loss plans. We also know what intermittent fasting immediately does to our bodies, and we even had someone try it out for a month to see if it’s everything it’s hyped up to be.
But what have you ever wondered what happens to your body if you make intermittent fasting a habit? Will it have lasting effects on your health? Here’s what we found so far:
Any person with a healthy body fat percentage will be healthier in the long run
Although there seems to be a lack of scientific data on the long-term effects of intermittent fasting, fitness gurus agree that shedding unhealthy amounts of body fat will always have a positive effect on health in the long term. In fact, Conde strongly believes that this “may make you live longer.”
The recommended amount of body fat differs per person and depends on varying factors (fitness level, body type, etc.), and if you’re closer to your ideal body mass, then that logically means you’re less likely to be susceptible to health problems related to obesity, high cholesterol, and blood sugar spikes.
But Enzo Bonoan, transformation coach at nutrition lab Extra Rise MNL, is quick to remind us that fat loss still depends on the food and fitness choices you make while on a fast. “For instance, if [a person] means to burn fat with intermittent fasting, they won’t be successful if they still eat more calories than they burn. Better sugar management won’t happen when a person on intermittent fasting still eats a lot of sugary food.”
“For instance, if [a person] means to burn fat with intermittent fasting, they won’t be successful if they still eat more calories than they burn. Better sugar management won’t happen when a person on intermittent fasting still eats a lot of sugary food”
Intermittent fasting instills discipline and keeps you disciplined
Most of us find it easy to give in to food cravings at any time of the day. It’s human nature; if you’re hungry, you eat. But intermittent fasting changes all that by training you to stay away from food even when your body is begging you to feed it. It pushes you to stick to a routine that’s more suited to our physiological design. After all, we weren’t meant to have access to food all the time. Initial hunger pangs go away when fasting is done right (and if your body is fit enough for it), and the discipline you gain from the practice is something that will trickle down to other aspects of your well-being. It may even be your gateway to better time management and a reduction in overall calorie intake. If you can be conscious of when you eat, then maybe you can also start watching what you eat.
“I noticed that when I started intermittent fasting that I wasn’t actually as ravenously hungry as I used to be when I woke up—like I wouldn’t be looking for something to eat as “breakfast,” says Conde. She usually eats her last meal at 7pm and would eat at 11am the next day.
Intermittent fasting builds the body’s resistance
Remember the cliché, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” Well, that’s somewhat true when it comes to intermittent fasting. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, fasting puts your cells under mild stress, and for as long as you give your body enough time to recover from this stress during your non-fasted state, fasting will enhance your body’s “ability to cope with stress and maybe, to resist disease.” Think of it like exercising: When your body is the right kind of sore from a really good workout session, you know you’re probably building muscle and stamina the right way, too.
Intermittent fasting boosts memory and cognitive function
Going on a fast reboots your system and recalibrates your brain’s ability to remember as well as learn. When the body burns stored fat, fatty acids called ketones are released into the bloodstream, which keeps us sharper by reinforcing neural connections. It also encourages the growth of new brain cells. Now we don’t know anyone who won’t benefit from that in the long run.
But Bonoan warns intermittent fasting may also backfire for some people, so it’s just a matter of figuring out if you’re one of those people who get “hangry” easily. “If the person cannot physically and mentally go for longer periods of fasting, then it can become detrimental. Grumpiness, hunger pangs, and low energy can be problems,” he notes.
Conde, too, says it’s all about determining if fasting is for you: “Although I would have to say that prolonged intermittent fasting (more than 12 hours) every day is not for women. Twelve hours is advisable for women (longer fasting every day messes up our hormones), and maybe just two days of 16-hour intermittent fasting.”
“I noticed that when I started intermittent fasting that I wasn’t actually as ravenously hungry as I used to be when I woke up—like I wouldn’t be looking for something to eat as “breakfast,” says Conde. She usually eats her last meal at 7pm and would eat at 11am the next day”
Intermittent fasting will save you money
Some diets and fitness plans cost more, others cost less. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, doesn’t require you to spend anything at all, which is why Bonoan thinks it’s gotten so popular. “It’s a new and inexpensive thing for people to try that has been marketed to work… and when people hear the words ‘new way to burn fat,’ and regular dieting hasn’t worked for them, they are willing to jump on the bandwagon.”
Intermittent fasting prevents cancer
This is a big claim, we know. But an article published on Business Insider puts it this way: Intermittent fasting “leads to physical changes” that should reduce the risk of cancer, given what we already know about degenerative diseases. If you think about, it does make sense. Intermittent fasting lowers sugar levels, leads to a nine percent drop in blood pressure, allows us to shed unneeded layers of body fat, and keeps the body more resistant to sickness. It even keeps you in a better mood because you’re able to think straight and work faster thanks to healthier neurons.
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