If you’ve been even remotely involved in the nutrition or fitness community over the past few years, you at least know the term intermittent fasting (IF). Enthusiasts praise its pattern of orchestrated eating and abstaining for everything from improved immunity to mental clarity and, of course, fast fat loss.
IF involves periods of alternately eating and fasting. Beyond that, definitions widely vary. Some people do IF for hours each day, while others fast for 24 – 36 hours once or twice a week. Eating could involve anything from a low-carb diet to carb loading. Fasting might be nothing but water, or supplementing with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and protein powder. Many people use green tea and fiber to curb appetite and cravings while they do IF.
A Google search will reveal the numerous methods of IF, most written by bloggers and fitness professionals emphatically singing its praises for fat loss, increased stamina and vigor, improved focus at the gym and at work, and breaking plateaus.
From all that information, you’ll likely conclude that IF is the “miracle” for becoming your leanest, healthiest self. But is it?
What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
1. You might get fast fat loss
Most studies showing IF can improve fat loss also look at caloric restriction. One study, for instance, found IF combined with calorie restriction and liquid meals helped obese women lose more fat and improve their cardiovascular disease risk. Obviously, when you restrict food to a certain time period, you will usually (but not always) take in fewer calories.
2. You give your digestive system a break
Between constant snacking and meals, your digestive system becomes compromised, leading to leaky gut and other gut-related problems. IF gives your overworked digestive system a much-needed rest for recovery and repair.
3. Longer periods without eating let your body reach into its fat stores
I’m opposed to snacking because every time you eat, you elevate your insulin levels and potentially store fat. Conversely, restricting food to a certain time period during IF reduces how often you raise insulin levels, therefore encouraging your fat cells to release fat for fuel.
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