Fasting is an incredible tool to improve your health and well-being. It is free and powerful! It may take a bit of practice to adopt it as a lifestyle practice as we are so used to grazing throughout the day and many of us can’t even recognize true hunger, but once you get in the groove, you will feel better than ever!
Fasting Benefits That Will Blow Your Mind
Understanding how fasting benefits your body can be an excellent motivator to keep going even when you want to give up That’s why I decided to create this list of 10 fasting benefits that will blow your mind.
1. Promotes Weight Loss
There are many ways fasting promotes weight loss and some are tied to the other fasting benefits we will be going through, like improving insulin sensitivity, self-control, and recalibrating your hunger meter. However, there is more to it than even these amazing health benefits.
Fasting and Ketosis
As you fast, your body starts to run out of glycogen. What does it mean? It means that instead of using this readily available source of energy, your body now has to break down fat cells for energy. It’s called fat-burning mode or ketosis. It takes at least 12 hours for your body to start running out of glycogen (unless you are on the keto diet). The be in optimal ketosis for weight loss, it takes about 18 hours. Learn everything you need to know about the stages of ketosis in my post Intermittent Fasting and Ketosis: How You Can Achieve Ketosis Without the Keto Diet.
For the purpose of this post, let’s just say that one of the fasting benefits related to weight loss is that your body will break down fat cells, which will diminish their size. Moreover, you are likely to notice your appetite decrease.
Your Muscle Mass and Weight Loss
Another important factor that promotes weight loss is muscle mass. The greater your muscle mass, the more energy your body needs (which helps increase your metabolism). As you lose weight, you tend to lose muscle mass too. However, intermittent fasting may help maintain your muscle mass while losing fat. In a study that compared calorie restriction with intermittent fasting, the participant who practiced calorie restriction found that 25% of their weight loss was muscle mass while those who practiced intermittent fasting found that only 10% of their weight loss was muscle mass.
Healthy Eating Made Simple
You will find that eating fewer meals simplifies your meal planning and meal prep. I used to spend hours in the kitchen daily because not only my body was sensitive to a lot of foods, but I had to prepare a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Now, I only have to worry about dinner (I like my Power Shake and an egg for lunch). Plus, I don’t have to be as careful with my diet. I can eat most whole foods without any issues because fasting has helped heal my gut.
2. Teaches Self Control
I know from experience and interacting with you, that must food cravings can seem insurmountable. Trying to conquer food cravings with pure self-control can feel impossible. Fortunately, not only does fasting allows you to practice self-control, but it gives you some hormonal help through ketosis and improved insulin sensitivity. It’s the perfect combination that gives you more self-confidence and helps you learn this important skill.
3. Heals Gut Damage
I mentioned that fasting improves simplifies healthy eating by improving your gut health. However, gut health is one of the most important fasting benefits. Did you know that after about 24 hours without food, your body starts regenerating intestinal stem cells?
As we age, our body loses its ability to regenerate stem cells. Fortunately, a 24-hour fast can help reverse this age-related decline. Now that I have achieved my goal weight, I don’t fast as long each day, but I like to maintain one 24-hour fast a week to maintain these benefits. Fasting for 24 hours (or the Eat Stop Eat Method) is easy! If you finish eating dinner at 6 pm one day, you can eat dinner at 6 pm the next day! That’s it! Everyone can do this once or twice a week!
“Understanding how fasting improves overall health, including the role of adult stem cells in intestinal regeneration, in repair, and in aging, is a fundamental interest of my laboratory.”Omer Yilmaz
4. Slows Aging
Ok, another fasting benefit that will blow your mind is how it increases longevity and slows down aging. In one study, for example, rats that were fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats that ate as much as they wanted.
That is mind-blowing, don’t you think?
Human Growth Hormone Secretion
Fasting increases your Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Secretion. Here’s what HGH can do:
- Reduces recovery time from injuries
- Improves lean muscle growth
- Accelerates fat burning
HGH keeps you young. Fasting enhances HGH by keeping you lean and by regulating your insulin levels.
Increased Resistance to Free Radicals
Fasting makes your body more resistant to stress (so does exercise and calorie restriction). This improved resistance to stress helps your body fight off free radicals and delay aging.
5. Decreases Cancer Risks
According to this study, fasting is a powerful tool to decrease your risk of cancer. The study talks about using intermittent fasting and/or prolonged fasting (like the Fasting Mimicking Diet) to decrease cancer risks. The main way fasting helps achieve this is by reducing inflammation and glucose levels.
On a side note, fasting for up to 5 days prior to cancer treatment may help reduce side effects.
6. Improves Digestion
Giving your body a break from foods helps ensure that no undigested material is left in your digestive tracts before you eat another meal. Even just fasting for a few hours may improve digestion.
7. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
This one is a biggy. Insulin resistance is the foundation of many health disorders including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride level. On a lower scale, it may make you more susceptible to food cravings and overeating.
It turns out that during a fast, your insulin production is reduced by 20-30%. Not a negligible reduction!
8. Improves Heart Health
Fasting improves your lipid profile as your body starts using fat as a source of energy. This, in turn, improves your heart health.
What Is a Lipid Profile?
A lipid profile is a blood test that measures the number of triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood. It helps determine your risk of cardiovascular disease.
9- Improves Brain Function
Do you ever feel tired after eating? There are many possible causes, but one of them is that your body has to direct energy to the process of digestion. When you don’t eat, your body is healing and you feel more energetic. But it goes further, fasting improves your cognitive function. Fasting is even used as a therapy in neurological diseases. Here’s what fasting can do for your brain:
- Improves your mental focus.
- Stalls age related cognitive decline.
- Enhances recovery after a stroke.
- Mitigates symptoms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
10- Recalibrates Your Hunger Meter
Most of us are so accustomed to eating constantly that we don’t even know what true hunger feels like. Fasting helps you learn to distinguish between your different hunger cues. It helps you learn what true hunger feels like and how you can feel hungry and still feel amazing.
Sometimes, you may feel hungry and terrible too, but that’s what you will learn to notice. As you recalibrate your hunger meter, you will discover that fasting is not about ignoring your hunger cues. It’s about learning to differentiate between different types of hunger. It’s an essential skill that most of us lack.