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11 Benefits of Fasting That Go Beyond Weight Loss

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD November 22, 2021

Intermittent fasting is most widely regarded as a way to lose weight although there are plenty of different benefits of fasting.

Starting intermittent fasting with the help of DoFasting can give you the most out of these excellent health benefits. The app will also make intermittent fasting a smooth journey. You can scan through multiple fasting types based on your long-term goals.

From disease prevention to better blood sugar levels, there are multiple reasons why intermittent fasting can work for someone.

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1. Promotes the Burning of Harmful Body Fat

Did you know that too much body fat can be harmful to your long-term health?

A higher body mass index will increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. These problems can be life-threatening, especially for people who already have certain health conditions.

However, the benefits of intermittent fasting may prevent any of these risks from happening. Since fasting can burn fat and reduce your body weight, you won’t be retaining visceral fat – a type of adipose tissue that wraps around your organs.

Here’s How Intermittent Fasting Promotes Rapid Weight Loss

There are plenty of studies that show how intermittent fasting promotes fat loss. One piece of research suggests that fasting causes hormone changes and boosts metabolism by 3.6–14%.

A fast metabolism encourages the body to burn more calories. Not eating food for a set period can also push you into ketosis – a metabolic state that burns fat for energy. People who tried short-term fasting lost 3–8% of their weight over 3–24 weeks.

By evaluating the figures above, the average weight loss will be 0.55 to 1.65 pounds a week when fasting. It’s recommended that people don’t lose more than 2 pounds every 7 days, as the body should focus more on burning fat rather than muscle.

To get the best weight loss effect, intermittent fasting should be combined with a healthy eating plan and regular exercise. Eating clean food is one way to boost any fat loss progress while working out increases the fat-burning rate in your body.

It’s important to note that some fasting benefits go miles beyond weight loss. Not only will you lose weight, but you’ll notice more physical and emotional changes.

2. Helps Treat Obesity

Lowering your calorie intake and following a clean fast will show noticeable changes.

One study found that fasting boosts metabolic hormones up to 180%. This connection is what helps you build muscle while losing weight. To actually see these results, you should start weight training 1-2 times a week to increase your strength. This can help your body appear leaner after just a few weeks of fasting regularly.

In the same study, intermittent fasting promotes the release of the human growth hormone, which is important for metabolism, weight loss, and muscle strength. Losing more weight is important for getting rid of the fat covering any muscle definition.

3. Helps Control Appetite

Fasting is one way to curb hunger, as your body adjusts to the new eating schedule.

Of course, you’re bound to feel hungry when you first start fasting, but staying consistent with your routine regulates the hunger hormones. Ghrelin and leptin, two of these hormones, will balance out after your designated eating window.

Not feeling hungry all the time can stop binge eating throughout the day.

4. Helps Prevent Disease

Intermittent fasting can help prevent chronic diseases and improve your long-term health. Research shows calorie restriction while fasting prevents or manages heart disease. This is because your blood pressure and blood sugar levels are reduced.

Another great fact is that fasting stops oxidative stress – a disturbance in the body that struggles to balance free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals are unstable atoms that attack healthy substances in your body and promote the production of cancer cells.

Since longer periods of fasting elimaintes these free radicals, you won’t have much gut inflammation. Your stomach has a chance to breathe and regulate good gut bacteria. Over time, the immune system is able to kill infections at a much faster rate.

5. Keeps Your Mind Clear and Your Brain Healthy

One of the benefits of fasting focuses on your brain.

Not retaining so many free radicals can help the body produce more brain cells. This means you’ll have better brain function when it comes to learning and memory. Better cognitive skills will improve concentration, reading, and math-based logic.

Intermittent fasting may also prevent neurodegenerative and cognitive disorders. The more healthy cells you have in your brain, the slower you’ll experience age-related cognitive decline.

Overall, stronger brain function can protect your long-term memory.

6. Controls Your Blood Sugar Levels

Not eating for a set time can lower your blood sugar levels.

Eating food normally raises insulin levels, which encourages more glucose to enter the bloodstream. However, restricting your food to an eight-hour window could stop hyperglycaemia symptoms like abdonimal pain, nausea, and dehydration.

Intermittent fasting can also reduce insulin resistance, balance cholesterol levels, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and strengthen overall heart health. Your body will have more control over fasting insulin levels when giving the pancreas a break.

7. Helps You Look and Feel Younger

This benefit might sound too good to be true, but fasting can slow down the deterioration of DNA. Your cells will remain healthy for longer and delay age-related signs. Over time, life expectancy expands due to the DNA repair acceleration.

Of course, fasting for one day won’t make you look ten times younger, but consistent routines can help you notice these small effects. To improve how intermittent fasting works even more, drink at least 9-12 cups of water a day for younger-looking skin.

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8. Stimulates Cellular Repair Processes

Autophagy is the body’s way of removing damaged or abnormal cells. This cellular repair process can stop these broken cells from becoming cancerous. Some people refer this state to “self-eating” during longer periods of not consuming calories.

Here are some other benefits of autophagy:

  • Slows cellular aging
  • Lowers inflammation
  • Cleanses the gut
  • Supports weight management
  • Better brain function
  • Prevents cancer risks

There have been human and animal studies that suggests autophagy occurs between 24 to 48 hours of intermittent fasting. Alternate-day fasting might be best for people who want to reach autophagy on different days throughout the week.

9. Clears Your Skin and Prevents Acne

People with common skin problems may benefit from intermittent fasting. This is because fasting reduces inflammation – the main cause for acne breakouts and cysts. Research shows that calorie restriction clears the skin of bacteria and excess sebum.

The same study proves that fasting reduces sebum levels by 40%. Everyone has this oily substance on the skin, but too much of it can clog your pores. If you suffer from acne, it may be worth trying a fast and low-calorie diet to clear the skin.

10. Helps You Sleep Better

Fasting can help you sleep during the night by fixing your body’s circadian rhythm.

This type of rhytm is determined by sunrise and sunset. Regulating your sleep-wake cycle with intermittent fasting could stop those sleepless nights. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night increases energy levels and helps you to exercise properly.

By limiting calorie intake throughout the day, you’re increasing orexin-A – a neurotransmitter that keeps you alert. Feeling more alert in the morning essentially wears your body out during the day and helps you feel sleepy at night.

11. Especially Beneficial for Professional Athletes

Professional athletes who want to lose some fat before competitions can try fasting to get back into shape. Losing the excess fat may boost resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is great for increasing endurance during resistance training.

Intermittent fasting can also positively affect body mass and other health markers in professional athletes. From a previous benefit, you’ll know that fasting preserves muscle mass. This is especially important for people who need extra strength and growth.

Consider These Drawbacks Before Starting Fasting

Of course, like many weight loss methods, there are bound to be drawbacks. This doesn’t mean fasting is dangerous since people will react differently. If you have any health problems, seek medical supervision to prevent these side effects.

Below, you’ll find 7 common side effects of fasting:

  • Hunger and cravings: One study found that cutting out calories suddenly can increase hunger levels throughout the fast. Some people only feel intense hunger during the first few days, depending on how much they eat outside of fasting.
  • Digestive issues: Constipation, bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea could occur within the first week of fasting. These aren’t usually anything to worry about, as your body needs to adjust to food reduction and internal changes.
  • Mood changes: Low blood sugar may lead to anxiety, stress, and irritation in older adults. Studies have shown that people were more annoyed during an 18-hour fast compared to those who weren’t fasting that day at all.
  • Headaches: A fasting headache can be caused by changes in water intake and caffeine consumption. They are usually mild and go away within a few days. Drinking more water should stop the headaches from coming back.
  • Lower energy levels: Since you’re changing your normal diet, the body will go through many physical changes. You might feel fatigued or drained while fasting, which can improve once everything adjusts to the new eating routine.
  • Dehydration: During the first few days of fasting, your body releases lots of water and salt. You can tell by the color of your urine whether or not you’re dehydrated. Just make sure to drink lots of water, even when you’re not fasting.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: People who fast for too long will miss out on important nutrients. Your body needs nutrients to function properly throughout the day. Always consume nutrient-dense foods outside of the fasting window as well.

Intermittent fasting may also be incompatible with certain health conditions like:

  • Eating disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Anemia
  • Kidney disease
  • Dementia
  • Traumatic brain injuries

People who are pregnant, breastfeeding, underweight, or who are taking medication for high blood pressure should also not fast to avoid health complications.

If you doubt the safety of intermittent fasting, consult with your doctor about how to approach this dietary routine and how to avoid certain risks.

Take a
1-minute quiz

and discover how much weight you can lose with DoFasting!

Conclusion

So, do the health benefits make intermittent fasting worth it?

You should try alternate-day fasting to improve brain function, lower blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar levels. There are plenty more benefits that encourage long-term healthy living. It’s all about finding a fasting type that’s suitable for your personal goals.

Just make sure to consult with your doctor first before trying intermittent fasting. A medical professional can rule out any risks of chronic conditions.

Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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2 Comments

zoritoler imol October 27, 2022

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DoFasting October 31, 2022

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