This comes as a surprise to many, but we haven’t always been eating three meals a day. Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers and are genetically disposed to periods of feast and famine (a.k.a intermittent fasting).
Intermittent fasting (IF) has various approaches to it, one of the most popular being 16:8, or “overnight fasting”.
Numerous religions and cultures have incorporated some form of fasting for spiritual or physical health purposes, but many of the evidence-based benefits of intermittent fasting for humans have only just started to emerge.
16:8 Intermittent fasting (IF) involves fasting every day (or night while you sleep) for 14–16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to 8–10 hours. There’s also alternate day fasting where you eat basically what you want one day and barely anything (around 500-600 calories) the next. There are many other types of fasts – check them out here.
What are the top 3 evidence-based benefits of intermittent fasting?
Fasting promotes fat loss while maintaining lean muscle.
A growing body of evidence suggests that intermittent fasting can flip the metabolic “switch” from using glucose as a fuel source to using fat as a fuel source. Thus fat stores are liberated and ketones are produced, as well as increased levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), all of which help to improve overall body composition.
Fasting cleans out damaged cells.
Ever heard of “Autophagy”? “Auto” means self and “phagy” means to eat. During a fast- when we’re not constantly giving our cells a steady supply of nutrients – they use the opportunity to do an internal deep-clean, which involves defunct and potentially harmful cells being ingested and destroyed by their healthier counterparts. The result? A “purified”, rejuvenated organism.
Fasting can improve brain health and cognitive function.
When starved of nutrients for a short duration, the body increases the signaling of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is involved in making energy for our brain cells, making new brain cells, and forming new neural connections in the brain (a process called neuroplasticity).
Reduced BDNF has been linked to the development of age-related neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s ,Parkinson’s, psychiatric disorders and depression. Other things that boost BDNF are exercise, meditation, deep sleep and sunlight.
Is fasting safe and effective for everyone?
Intermittent fasting (IF) has various approaches to it — there is not one-size-fits all and it certainly isn’t for everyone. People will vary in their in their reaction to a fasting protocol thanks to differences in genetics, hormones, health goals and other lifestyle factors. Overall men respond better to IF than women, and there are certain predispositions or conditions that aren’t compatible with fasting.
People with advanced diabetes or who are on medications for diabetes, people with a history of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should not attempt intermittent fasting unless under the close supervision of a physician who can monitor them.
The smartest, safest and most effective approach is to consult with an expert health practitioner before you try IF so that they can create a goal-driven personalize plan for you based on your genetics, your lifestyle and your health history. This is what 3X4 Practitioners do best – let us connect you wth one!