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What happens to your body when you don’t eat? Does Intermittent Fasting help lose weight?

intermittent fasting photo


Intermittent Fasting is gaining popularity worldwide

The popularity of intermittent fasting has been steadily growing in recent years. If you check numerous forums where people talk about their fasting experience, you will find that it has helped a lot of people lose weight. You will see people talking about how they tried all kinds of diets including low carb, the keto diet, low fat, reduced sugar, and others, but for some people, none of those worked. Then they tried intermittent fasting and the weight came off. As positive side effects, they mention mental clarity, feeling light on their feet, and being more agile.

David Sinclair, a professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, tells people they should skip meals, which was seen as an unhealthy way to live in the past.

So what happens when you fast? When it comes to fasting, tests on rats had positive results. The results were often the same with any of the rats on a fast: they would lose weight and their blood pressure cholesterol and blood sugar would often improve. The US National Institute of Health agreed that when rats fasted, there were health benefits, including more efficient energy metabolism. What scientists then had to find out is, would humans get the same benefits? Should we give up three square meals a day or lots of small meals and just deprive ourselves of food every day. Let’s have a look at what happens to the body when we fast. The experts tell us that when we don’t feed ourselves for somewhere between 12 and 16 hours, the glycogen stores in our liver become depleted. The body then switches from using sugar as a source of energy to using fat.

If you exercise a lot, this can also happen. This metabolic state is called ketosis and it brings about changes in the body. Most of us don’t reach this state because we’ve grown up being told to eat. Fasting means avoiding calorie intake for between 12 to 24 hours. Although some say that a few calories might still keep your body in the fasting state.

Emerging evidence suggests that intermittent dietary energy restriction might improve overall health and reduce risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In humans, findings in laboratory animals provide evidence that similar intermittent eating patterns can enhance the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise. Our obesity crisis is due in large part to the fact that people are sedentary or just eat too much sugary processed foods. It’s no surprise that some of the fattest countries in the world have a snacking culture and a fast-food culture. Still, some people do eat quite well and can’t seem to lose weight. It’s as if the body has a certain calibration and wants to stay at a particular weight. That’s where fasting has helped people. It’s worked, where diets have failed. There is some evidence that even when we restrict our bodies of calories, the body thinks: Oh God, I’m starving? and it slows down and takes what it can from the few calories you put in. Even if you’re a big person, if you reduce calories, you might not lose weight because your body goes into survival mode. It slows down its metabolism.

Intermittent Fasting facilitates weight loss and has many other benefits

There is lots of evidence from people who tried fasting with positive results. Researchers from the University of Alabama were interested to see if fasting might help people with prediabetes, meaning that they were on their way to getting full-blown diabetes. It’s well known that if you eat food before you sleep, it can increase your chances of getting diabetes. We don’t need to tell you that if you are very obese because your fingers are hardly ever doing anything other than putting chips, cookies, and all kinds of processed junk into your mouth, you’re at risk of getting diabetes. In 2018 The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that indicated that one in seven Americans has diabetes.

And while lifestyle is not to blame for around 5% of the cases, the vast majority of the remaining 95% have diabetes because of a poor diet and resulting obesity. So can fasting help? Well, in one study, the researchers put prediabetics on a plan called Early time, Restricted feeding. This meant some participants could only eat from 7:00 AM until 3:00 PM and nothing else after or before. The other group could eat between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM, a more normal timeframe. For most people, both groups didn’t gain weight or lose weight, but those in the seven to three timeframe showed a drop in insulin levels. They also showed a decrease in their blood pressure levels. Another important factor was they adapted to the fast and showed a decrease in appetite even after the study had concluded. There’s no doubt that this kind of intermittent fasting has worked for a lot of people, but most researchers do say that if you do fast, also try to have a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Dieting may also help. But the fact is some people just find it easier to skip meals. Sometimes it’s hard to find healthy food, and sometimes it takes too much time to cook. In these cases, fasting is a good option if you want to try and lose weight without much planning or effort.

What about fasting not just for a certain part of the day, but missing an entire day’s foods? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study from independent researchers who took study participants and put them on this one day a week fast for five weeks. It concluded that they indeed lost weight, but they were also hungry during that fasting day. It suggested perhaps adding one healthy meal on a fasting day as a means to mitigate this hunger. That’s why you’ll hear a lot about 16-hour fasts, 18-hour fasts, and 20-hour fasts all over the web. If you are new to fasting, it might be a good idea to start with the 16 hour fast and build up to 24 hours.

There is scientific and anecdotal evidence that fasting can help reduce a person’s weight and also help people with type two diabetes. Some evidence also points to fasting, increasing something called the BDNF protein in the brain, which is why some people claim they have enhanced mental clarity. When fasting others say that giving the body a break from food can help reduce pain and inflammation and also help repair cells. Some studies have concluded that chronic pain can be eased if fasting is done in tandem with a vegetarian diet. There is strong evidence that tells us that fasting might help with other chronic degenerative and inflammatory diseases. We found one paper in which scientists wrote that fasting might help regenerate STEM cells and could have a positive effect on cancer. Patient studies on animals show that fasting might even reduce the chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease or heart problems.

Doctors don’t recommend that pregnant women fast nor malnourished people or people with a history of eating disorders as well as children or women who are breastfeeding. It’s best to start fasting when you’re an adult and you feel like you need to lose some weight or lower your blood sugar. During your fast, drink lots of liquids like water or tea or coffee with no sugar or milk. You can also work out on days that you are fasting. It’s not dangerous to do this. According to the health experts, some people online say they feel great exercising on their fast, but others have said they felt weak or felt dizzy. If you do work out during a day you are fasting, take it easy and see how you feel.

If you read comments online and see what people are saying about intermittent fasting you’ll find a lot of people saying that they lost weight and felt more mentally alert after fasting. They just didn’t need as much food as before. Fasting is a lot easier to do than following a strict diet plan.

Since there seems little doubt that many people lose weight when doing these fasts, most people will eat their evening meal early around five, and then get through most of the morning without food. While a lot more research needs to be done concerning all of the health benefits of fasting just reading what people say about their fasts online lets you know that fasting does work for most people.

Have you tried fasting? How was it for you? Tell us in the comments.




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