Why Intermittent Fasting Could Actually Be A Good Idea
Written by: Tyler Linn
I have been intermittent fasting for over 2 years and it is something that people look at me like I’m crazy for. There is a big stigma against intermittent fasting because people think it is unhealthy to restrict calories.
Let’s delve deeper into this type of eating lifestyle to see what the positive and potentially negative effects are.
The central idea behind the implementation of intermittent fasting is to reduce overall calorie consumption, ideally resulting in weight loss. Typically, an individual undergoes a period of intentional severe calorie restriction (ranging from 0-25 percent of the individual’s normal daily caloric intake) for a period of 16-24 hours. Following the restrictive phase, the individual returns to relatively normal food intake for 8-24 hours, depending on which version of intermittent fasting program he/she is following.
Intermittent fasting hinges on the idea of a “fed” state and “fast” state.
In a fed state, the human body is digesting and absorbing food (i.e. it is using insulin to bring glucose into cells to manufacture energy). Typically, the fed state starts when you begin eating and lasts for 3-5 hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. When you are in the fed state, it’s very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.
After that timespan, your body goes into what is known as the postabsorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isn’t processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until 8-12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for your body to burn fat in the fasted state, because your insulin levels are low. When you’re in the fasted state, your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.
During periods of fasting or when food is absent, the body’s level of blood glucose significantly decreases. This lowers insulin release, resulting in increased fatty acid oxidation. Since intermittent fasting decreases both glucose and insulin levels, the body uses stored fat as fuel. Therefore, during short periods of extremely low calorie intake, an individual will exhibit an increased fat burn.
Because you don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after your last meal, it’s rare that your body is in this fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.
The other main health benefits of intermittent fasting includes helping you live longer!
How does this work?
Decreased sensitivity to insulin often accompanies obesity and has been linked to diabetes and heart failure; long-lived animals and people tend to have unusually low insulin, presumably because their cells are more sensitive to the hormone and therefore, need less of it. A recent study at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, showed that mice that feasted on fatty foods for 8 hours a day and subsequently fasted for the rest of each day did not become obese or show dangerously high insulin levels.
And if that hasn’t tickled your fancy, further benefits to intermittent fasting include simplifying your day, increasing performance of your workouts and becoming easier than dieting.
Perfect, right? Not so fast.
There is one negative issue that could arise if you are not eating properly and taking the correct supplements. One short-term fasting study, covering 15-30 hours, demonstrated an increased rate of protein breakdown. The last thing healthy people want is to lose any of the hard-earned muscle they’ve built! However, if your nutrition is adequate and you supplement branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) once a day, which slow protein breakdown, you may just nullify any negative outcomes from intermittent fasting.
And there you have it, a crash course in intermittent fasting. So, pick a schedule that works for you and give it try! It could hold the key to the long life you’ve always wanted!
*It should be noted that adopting any new program should be discussed with a professional, especially in the case of any imbalances or ailments. IF has been shown to potentially be detrimental to those with hormonal imbalance, particularly in women.
Originally from Sacramento, CA, Tyler Linn moved down to San Diego in 2006 to attend college at San Diego State University. Tyler enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, surfing, hiking, meeting new people and traveling all over the world.
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