The benefits of intermittent fasting
Short-term fasting has been found to increase neural autophagy, which is how cells regenerate, repair themselves and recycle waste. This equals a boost in memory, and brain and learning functions. Studies on rodents have shown that during the fasting period, cells are put under minor stress to which they react by enhancing their ability to cope with stress. This could help resistance to diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, asthma, epileptic seizures, diabetes and strokes. The University of Illinois studied the effects of alternate- day fasting on hundreds of obese adults. An 8-10 week trial found participants lost an average of 5.8kg and had marked reductions in cholesterol, blood pressure and insulin, the fat-storage hormone.
While the reduction in overall calories from intermittent fasting will result in some weight loss, there is also a substantial effect on fat loss. This is due to higher levels of human growth hormone but also the significant reduction in insulin (insulin regulates your blood sugars) and the corresponding increase in norepinephrine – the main neurotransmitter produced by the sympathetic nervous system. These hormones initiate the breakdown of stored body fat to use as an energy source. This increases your metabolism; studies show this varies from 3.6 per cent at the low end, to 14 per cent at the higher end.
Intermittent fasting practitioners reported increased energy, better digestion and sleep, and improvements to mood and motivation.
If these arguments fail to tempt you into fasting, take a moment to weigh up the benefits of maintaining ideal body weight. The scales tip so heavily in favour of being on the lighter side; staying slimmer is one of the most important things you can do for your health.