You’ll Want to Know About These Intermittent Fasting Benefits

Intermittent fasting can provide multiple benefits. Choosing the right regimen can ensure your long-term health.

Woman sitting at a table while looking at a clock as different foods are laid out in front of her

Many celebrities and average joes consider intermittent fasting as a surefire way to lose weight. This dietary phenomenon is related to various health benefits. While it involves abstinence from food for a certain number of hours in a day, it doesn’t restrict food consumption. Instead, it focuses on when you can eat. This flexibility is one of the main reasons why this way of eating is favoured by many.

Let’s discover the distinct types of intermittent fasting and how they can improve a person’s overall well-being.

Woman holding the bridge of her nose with her eyes closed as she sits at a table and working on a laptop
Headaches are common side effects of a 24-hour fast.

Understanding the Different Intermittent Fasting Models 

The 5:2 or ‘Twice-a-Week’ model  

This method requires men to limit their daily calorie consumption to 600 kilocalories (kcals) and women to 500 kcals for two days in a week. During the remaining five days, a person is exempted from this rule, and can consume as much food as they want without tracking their calorie consumption. It’s advisable to eat foods that are high in fibre and protein to stay satiated the whole day. 

The 16:8 time-restricted eating method  

One should fast for 16 hours and eat during an eight-hour window. It complements regular meal timings and the body’s natural circadian rhythm. If you don’t skip breakfast or have an active lifestyle, it can take a while for you to find eating and fasting windows that suit your daily routine. 

Alternate-day fasting  

This method calls for a person to keep their calorie consumption within 500 kcals, which is 20-25% of our daily energy or calorie requirements, and eat a balanced diet the following day. Studies have revealed that this method can help people with obesity lose body fat. A 24-hour fast, meanwhile, compels a person to refrain from consuming solid foods for 24 hours. Side effects like fatigue, light-headedness, headaches, mood changes and increased hunger pangs are more profound during the fasting period.

Woman looking shocked as she stands on a weighing scale with a tape measure around her waist
Intermittent fasting can help a person reach their weight loss goals naturally.

Ways Intermittent Fasting Benefits a Person’s Health Holistically 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), eating during the day and fasting at night promote harmonious living with circadian cycles. According to TCM’s meridian clock — a chronological map of organ strength at various times of the day — the Stomach is most active between 7am to 9am, and the Spleen is between 9am to 11am.

TCM practitioners recommend abstaining from food at least two hours before bedtime. The Gallbladder is abundant with blood and qi (vital energy) from 11pm to 1am, and the Liver from 1am to 3am. During these intervals, a person needs to be in a deep sleep. The Liver can be nourished by blood, thus enabling the organ to perform its many functions optimally.

Helps maintain control over blood sugar levels 

Various studies have demonstrated the efficacy of intermittent fasting models in preventing or managing type 2 diabetes. Scientists from the University of Adelaide found that the 5:2 fasting model enabled people with diabetes to control blood sugar levels better.

Another study of men diagnosed with prediabetes showed that time-restricted feeding correlated with insulin control. Specifically, it lowered insulin levels, reduced the frequency of insulin fluctuations, and decreased insulin resistance.

Promotes healthy weight loss

Two studies on individual groups of people produced remarkable effects on weight reduction. Men with type 2 diabetes and excessive weight adhered to a caloric restriction or intermittent fasting regimen. The subjects achieved significant weight loss after 12 weeks, with the men who completed the intermittent fasting regimen losing 1.1% of body fat and a mean weight of 6.5%.

Likewise, pre-menopausal women with excessive weight or obesity were randomised to caloric restriction or intermittent fasting for six months. The women from the caloric restriction regimen successfully lost 5.6kg, while those who fasted lost 6.4kg.

Abiding by an intermittent fasting regimen can provide diverse health benefits. 

Intermittent fasting benefits

Two studies on individual groups of people produced remarkable effects on weight reduction. Men with type 2 diabetes and excessive weight adhered to a caloric restriction or intermittent fasting regimen. The subjects achieved significant weight loss after 12 weeks, with the men who completed the intermittent fasting regimen losing 1.1% of body fat and a mean weight of 6.5%.

Pre-menopausal women with excessive weight or obesity were randomly selected for caloric restriction or intermittent fasting for six months. The women from the caloric restriction regimen successfully lost 5.6kg, while those who fasted lost 6.4kg. 

Regulates blood pressure 

Intermittent fasting models also have the ability to suppress systolic and diastolic blood pressure. One study, in particular, exhibited that men with prediabetes lessened systolic and diastolic blood pressure after fasting for 18 hours daily over a five-week duration. 

Enhance brain function 

Autophagy is an intracellular degradation system that sees the body digesting dispensable proteins, pathogenic agents, and old or damaged organelles.

Continuous eating throughout the day can disrupt this process. Proteins, as well as glucose and insulin spikes, can break autophagy. Consequently, ‘old’ cells will accumulate in the brain and make a person vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease. Hence, intermittent fasting can encourage the generation of new cells and help keep the brain healthy.

Ultimately, human beings have been practicing fasting for centuries. However, it can have adverse effects on some. Young children, pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with low blood pressure, nutritional deficiencies, Kidney and Liver conditions, hyperthyroidism, and eating disorders should stay away from these regimens. Hydration, too, is necessary. This component of intermittent fasting can stimulate the attainment of health benefits while averting brain fog and dehydration.

References

  1. Double Happiness Health. 2019. Intermittent Fasting: The Chinese Medical View. [online]  [Accessed 23 March 2022] 
  2. diaTribe. 2021. To Skip or Not to Skip: Does Intermittent Fasting Help People with Diabetes? [online] [Accessed 23 March 2022]
  3. National Library of Medicine. 2020. Intermittent Fasting: A Heart Healthy Dietary Pattern? [online] [Accessed 23 March 2022]
  4. MBInfo. What is autophagy? [online] [Accessed 23 March 2022] 

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