How Intermittent Fasting Makes You Better

Intermittent Fasting is proven to improve your overall well being.

Intermittent fasting is not about what, but when and how long you eat. Proven to help with weight loss, overall health, increased energy and mental clarity. 

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a dietary practice that alternates between periods of fasting and eating. 

Unlike diets that focus on what foods to eat or avoid, intermittent fasting primarily regulates when you eat. The concept is used throughout history and has often been tied to religious rituals and cultural traditions.

There are several ways intermittent fasting can be practiced. The most common method is the 16/8 approach, where you would fast for 16 hours and have an eating window of 8 hours each day. 

Another popular method is the 5:2, which involves eating normally for 5 days of the week and restricting calorie intake to about 500-600 calories on the remaining 2 days. 

Intermittent Fasting Improves The Body

Intermittent Fasting benefits the body.

The benefits of intermittent fasting are surprisingly extensive. When it comes to the body, it does a lot of good. 

Weight and Fat Loss

By restricting the eating window, we tend to consume fewer calories overall, leading to weight loss. Even more so, intermittent fasting promotes fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity 

Intermittent fasting may help improve insulin sensitivity, which is important for regulating blood sugar levels. This can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and improve overall metabolic health.

Enhanced Autophagy

Autophagy is a cellular process that involves the removal of damaged cells and components. Intermittent fasting stimulates autophagy, which has been known to help protect against various diseases and promote cellular rejuvenation.

Reduced Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is tied to numerous health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help reduce inflammation in the body.

Heart Health

Intermittent fasting may have beneficial effects on heart health by improving lipid profiles, reducing blood pressure, and lowering levels of inflammatory markers.

Brain Health

Evidence suggests that intermittent fasting supports brain health by promoting the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that plays a role in learning, memory, and cognitive function. It may also protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Longevity

While more research is needed, some animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan. This effect may be related to the various metabolic benefits associated with fasting.

For more information, check out this study posted by the New England Journal of Medicine.

There Are Significant Mental Benefits

Intermittent Fasting benefits the mind.

While the primary focus of intermittent fasting is on weight loss and metabolic improvements, emerging research suggests that it has profound effects on cognitive function and intelligence.

As mentioned above, intermittent fasting may enhance intelligence through its impact on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein crucial for the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons. 

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can increase levels of BDNF, promoting neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to adapt and reorganize neural pathways in response to learning and experience. This enhanced neuroplasticity may lead to improvements in memory and cognitive flexibility, ultimately contributing to greater intelligence.

It’s also been found to reduce oxidative stress in the brain, both of which are linked to cognitive decline and impaired brain function. 

By lowering inflammation and oxidative damage, intermittent fasting may help protect neurons from degeneration and support overall brain health, allowing for sharper cognitive function and better decision-making abilities.

Additionally, intermittent fasting has been shown to increase the production of ketone bodies, molecules produced by the liver during periods of fasting or low carbohydrate intake. 

Ketones serve as an alternative fuel source for the brain when glucose levels are low, and emerging research suggests that they may have neuroprotective effects and enhance cognitive function. 

By providing the brain with ketones as a more efficient energy source, intermittent fasting may improve mental clarity, focus, and cognitive performance.

There is a great study on how fasting affects the brain you can read here.

For Those Over 40, Intermittent Fasting Brings New Life

Intermittent Fasting helps men and women over 40 feel better about life.

 As people age, metabolism tends to slow down, making weight management and overall health more challenging. 

If you’d like to read more about turning 40, what happens and how it can still be awesome, check out this previous article I wrote.

Intermittent fasting helps to regulate calorie intake and promote fat loss. Additionally, fasting periods allow the body to tap into stored fat reserves for energy, which can be particularly beneficial for those of us over 40.

With age, the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels diminishes. This increases the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting has been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity, which reduces the risk of developing diabetes and helps to manage blood sugar levels more effectively.

As we get older, the brain changes, often in decline. Studies have demonstrated that fasting periods trigger various cellular repair processes, including the removal of damaged cells and the production of new neurons, which help the brain. 

This neuroprotective effect could potentially help prevent age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Lastly, but equally as important, aging increases the likelihood of injury and inflammation, such as heart disease, arthritis, and certain cancers. Intermittent fasting is especially helpful with inflammation and improved heart health, both of which are significant for us over 40. 

This article by Harvard Health Publishing further supports how intermittent fasting helps men and women over 40.

Intermittent Fasting Feels A Certain Way

For many, the initial stages of intermittent fasting can be a little challenging as the body adjusts to a new eating pattern. 

During the fasting period, especially in the first few days or weeks, some might experience sensations of hunger, fatigue, and irritability as the body adapts to the absence of regular food intake.

In the early stages of intermittent fasting, it’s not uncommon to feel more aware of hunger as the body signals its usual meal times. This can mean stomach grumbling, feelings of emptiness, or even light-headedness as blood sugar levels change. However, as the body adapts to the fasting routine, these sensations often become more manageable.

As you progress, many report experiencing increased mental clarity and focus during the fasting periods. Some describe a sense of heightened alertness and productivity.

Moreover, intermittent fasting can also bring about changes in energy levels throughout the day. While some people might initially feel fatigued during fasting periods, others report a surge in energy once they become accustomed to the routine. This can manifest as increased endurance during workouts or feeling more vibrant and active throughout the day.

Additionally, intermittent fasting can have an impact on mood and emotional well-being. While some individuals may experience irritability or mood swings during the adjustment phase, many find that intermittent fasting promotes a sense of emotional balance and stability over time. 

As with any dietary or lifestyle change, individual experiences may vary.

Many Well Known People Practice Intermittent Fasting

Several well-known individuals have publicly spoken about their experiences with intermittent fasting. Here are some:

Hugh Jackman: The actor known for his role as Wolverine in the X-Men series has mentioned intermittent fasting as part of his training regimen.

Terry Crews: Actor and former NFL player Terry Crews has spoken about his intermittent fasting routine and how it has helped him maintain his physique.

Jennifer Aniston: The Friends star has reportedly practiced intermittent fasting as part of her wellness routine.

Kourtney Kardashian: Kourtney Kardashian has mentioned intermittent fasting as part of her diet and lifestyle choices.

Chris Pratt: The actor known for his roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World has reportedly used intermittent fasting to help with his weight loss and fitness goals.

Halle Berry: The actress has spoken about intermittent fasting as part of her health and wellness routine.

Ben Affleck: Actor and filmmaker Ben Affleck has been known to use intermittent fasting as part of his weight loss efforts.

Joe Rogan: Podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan has discussed intermittent fasting on his podcast and its benefits for health and weight management.

J.Lo (Jennifer Lopez): The singer and actress has reportedly used intermittent fasting as part of her fitness routine.

LeBron James: NBA superstar LeBron James has reportedly used intermittent fasting as part of his training regimen.

Here Is How To Intermittent Fast

There is a proper way to intermittent fast.

If you’re considering starting intermittent fasting, you may want to approach it with a well-thought-out plan to ensure both effectiveness and safety.

Choose the Right Method

Select an intermittent fasting method that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences. If you’re new to fasting, starting with the 16/8 method might be more manageable as it allows for a consistent daily eating window.

Stay Hydrated

During fasting periods, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, herbal tea, or black coffee to help curb hunger and prevent dehydration.

Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods

When breaking your fast, prioritize nutrient-dense foods to nourish your body adequately. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats in your meals to support overall health.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to your body’s signals while fasting. If you feel excessively fatigued, dizzy, or unwell, it might be a sign that you need to adjust your fasting schedule or seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key to seeing results with intermittent fasting. Stick to your chosen fasting schedule as much as possible, but also be flexible when necessary, especially during social events or special occasions.

Combine with Exercise

Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine can enhance the benefits of intermittent fasting. Aim for a mix of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises to support overall health and fitness goals.

Consult a Professional

If you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with a healthcare professional before starting intermittent fasting to ensure it’s safe for you.

Sample Schedule

Intermittent Fasting is highly adjustable and something you can tailor to nearly any situation. I personally break my fasting period at 7 AM, eating here and there as the day allows, until 3 PM. Most days, I’m generally done by 1 PM.

I stop any food intake for the rest of the day and resume eating at 7 AM the next morning after returning from the gym.

There is no right or wrong time to start fasting, so long as you maintain an 8-consecutive-hour eating window.

There Can Be Negatives To Intermittent Fasting

Though intermittent fasting has gained significant popularity in recent years for its health benefits, there are a few drawbacks and potential negative effects.

One of the primary concerns with intermittent fasting is the risk of nutrient deficiencies. 

By restricting the window of time in which one consumes food, there is a possibility of not obtaining an adequate intake of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary for overall health. This can be particularly problematic if you do not make conscious efforts to consume the right, nutrients during eating periods.

Another potential negative aspect of intermittent fasting is its impact on energy levels and mood. 

Some people may experience fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating, including mood swings, especially during the fasting periods. This can make it challenging to sustain intermittent fasting as a long-term lifestyle choice.

Certain medical conditions or unique dietary needs can be problematic when intermittent fasting. 

Individuals with diabetes, for example, may experience fluctuations in blood sugar levels that could worsen with fasting, potentially leading to hypoglycemia or other complications. Another example is those with a history of eating disorders. They may find that intermittent fasting exacerbates disordered eating patterns and makes their relationship with food worse.

Another potential problem is that intermittent fasting can be socially restrictive. 

Gatherings, family meals, and work events often revolve around food, making it difficult to practice intermittent fasting while fully participating without feeling deprived or isolated. This can lead to feelings of stress, guilt, or social pressure, which may detract from the overall enjoyment of the fasting experience.

The American Heart Association posted a “study” on their site that found the 16/8 intermittent fasting cycle has been linked to a 91% higher risk of cardiovascular disease. However, I would take this “study” lightly. If you read through the article, you’ll discover that it’s entirely reliant on data taken from surveys and admits that the data may be flawed.

There have been no new scientific studies supporting the article’s claims that I’m aware of.

Nonetheless, I feel it’s important for you to be aware of what some experts are currently saying about intermittent fasting. 

It’s About Our Relationship With Food

Speaking of surveys, Glamour Magazine referenced one in which 51% of women and 46% of men said that food could feel as good as sex. 

Considering that personal survival is not directly reliant on sex, but food is, it very well could be that there is a subconscious tie to intimacy. 

Food is necessary to live, and when that substance tantalizes our taste buds, it may exceed the body’s expectations of nourishment, transcending from existing to thriving. In a way, it could be that this combination of gratefully living another day while being taken there through an explosion of our senses (taste, smell, texture, etc) is its own euphoria. 

Of course, I’m speculating, but it doesn’t change the fact that we have a fascinating relationship with food. 

Most people in the United States eat throughout the day. 

It’s common for most people to have 3 main meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) along with snacks in between. Overall, the average American typically eats 3 to 5 times a day, including snacks. 

This means the body is constantly working to digest food.

Several studies have found that Americans tend to eat due to emotional responses, such as stress and boredom. Pleasure eating is also quite common, often the result of high sugar and fat, which is not necessarily linked to hunger.

The result of this kind of relationship, more often than not, results in weight gain, including digestive and sleep issues, as the body is rarely at proper metabolic rest. We become somewhat enslaved or addicted to food.

Intermittent fasting changes the nature of that relationship.

Eating becomes a discipline, which in and of itself requires conscious dedication. The natural result of this is an arguably more balanced use of body resources. Instead of constantly breaking down and digesting food most of the day, intermittent fasting allows the body to work on other important areas.

Suddenly, this turns food into more of a proper asset, while also enjoying it.

During fasting periods, the body may become more sensitive to flavors due to changes in hormone levels such as insulin and leptin. Additionally, fasting can also lead to increased production of ketones, which may affect taste perception. 

In other words, many report that they are more aware of flavors and textures, which adds to the possible euphoria associated with eating.

To Each Their Own

Generally speaking, there is a lot of supporting evidence for intermittent fasting, but it’s not for everyone. 

Some people may have current medical conditions that make that kind of eating difficult. Others may just not like it. 

While intermittent fasting doesn’t require any change to what you eat, only when and for how long, the quality of food is of course important. Our overall health is still tied to what we eat. That, however, is for another article.

On a personal note, I love it. 

Intermittent fasting, along with weight lifting and a Keto-based diet, are what helped me lose over 40 pounds. I continually feel light, energetic, and rested. I’ve been intermittent fasting for over 10 years now.

If you choose to consider intermittent fasting, always check with your doctor if you’re on medication, and treat it like any new relationship. Take your time. Explore the process, and understand it’s a journey and not a race.

As always, thank you for reading, and until the next time, cheers.

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