It seems like scientists, fitness, and health researchers are always finding new benefits of intermittent fasting: weight loss, reduction in chronic health risks like diabetes, protection from heart disease, increased energy, improved brain health, and more. At its core, the way intermittent fasting works is very simple. To start intermittent fasting, it’s as simple as adjusting your meal schedule to include regular periods of no-calorie consumption each day.
By fasting, the body begins to draw energy from stored fat rather than from recently eaten food. Researchers have found that people who participate in intermittent fasting tend to lose more weight and keep that weight off than those who participate in traditional calorie-cutting diets. Intermittent fasting is a more holistic approach to reducing calories than simply counting calories each day.
To be more specific, eating causes the body’s insulin level to rise, which helps process and store energy. Sugars then get linked into long chains, called glycogen, which are stored in the liver. Once the liver reaches capacity, it starts to turn excess glucose into fat saved for later energy. However, if the energy does not get used later, the fat continues to accumulate. As mentioned above, intermittent fasting causes the body to access its fat reserves, essentially using itself for energy. Humans evolved without eating three meals a day so fat storage was necessary for our distant ancestors’ survival. Today, however, the amount of fat many of us carry with us causes a wide range of health issues.
For most people, their fasting schedule consists of sixteen hours of no-eating with an 8-hour window for eating. With this schedule, a person consumes all of their calories within that 8-hour window. They do not eat anything other than coffee, tea, or water for sixteen hours. For most people, this means skipping breakfast and starting the 8-hour window at around 11am-12pm.
It’s important to note that for intermittent fasting to be beneficial, you must consume healthy foods. This means a lot of non-processed foods, vegetables, protein, and a moderate amount of carbohydrates. While there are many positive aspects to intermittent fasting, there are still many unknowns so if you’re interested; it’s worth doing research or consulting with a medical professional to see if it might work for you. You should not participate in intermittent fasting if you are: underweight, pregnant, breastfeeding, under eighteen, or suffer from any autoimmune disorders.
About the Author: Jacob Edward is the manager of Senior Planning. Senior Planning is a free resource for seniors, helping them organize care, find care homes, or move into assisted living.