Today I’m going to talk a little bit more about some of the great benefits of intermittent fasting. If you’ve explored some of my previous blog or video posts this month, I’ve spoken a lot about intermittent fasting for weight loss. Without a doubt, intermittent fasting is fantastic, it’s a game changer for weight loss. But there are many other health benefits as well.
A Lifestyle Change Agent
Many of my clients, and myself included, continue to do some form of intermittent fasting even after achieving their weight loss goal because you can feel the improvements in many areas of your life. Today I’m going to discuss some of those improvements and why intermittent fasting is amazing as an ongoing lifestyle choice. This doesn’t mean you have to always do intermittent fasting, but even now and then, it’s very beneficial.
One of the key areas that benefits from intermittent fasting is brain health. I know a lot of people who notice as they get older that their brain might get a little foggy, and this does not necessarily have to do with being overweight.
Many people attribute this brain fog to increasing age, but
- being alert,
- staying focused,
- having a good memory,
for the most part, do not have to decline with age.
When you’re doing intermittent fasting, your body is using ketones for fuel. When your brain uses ketones for fuel instead of glucose, it stimulates “brain derived neurotrophic proteins”, or brain derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF). That’s a big mouth full, but this is a type of protein that causes your brain to wake up and work more efficiently.
It stimulates neural function. So this is why many people notice that, when they’re doing intermittent fasting for weight loss, they are also much more alert, thinking clearly, remembering things, very sharp and on-the-ball. Of course, losing weight and eating well can help with mental focus, but research has shown quite dramatically the positive effect that intermittent fasting has on the brain. In fact, intermittent fasting has been integrated into some brain health programs for individuals with dementia because of its impact on brain health. So, this is certainly a huge benefit, and one of the reasons why many of my clients continue to do some form of intermittent fasting after achieving their weight loss goal.
Another benefit of intermittent fasting is that it actually suppresses appetite, because your body has all the fuel it needs. So if somebody struggles with hunger, this is a great way to manage that. Of course this helps with losing weight, but certainly also helps to keep the weight off for people who have a strong hunger response. It’s interesting to note how certain foods impact the body’s hunger response. As a personal example, on most days I don’t eat breakfast and I do a 16 hour fast without experiencing hunger. But, if I have days when I’ve been eating more sugar and more carbs, such as a holiday or a celebratory event, the next morning I feel extremely hungry. This is because my sugar levels and my insulin levels have been up and down the previous day because of the food I was eating.
The body’s response is to then desire more glucose, causing you to feel hungry. However, it’s certainly possible to get through that one day feeling a bit hungry, and then the body will go back to normal and it becomes very manageable to not have breakfast and complete the 16 hour fast without hunger in the following days.
Cellular Clean Up
From a cellular standpoint, intermittent fasting is highly beneficial for overall health, especially for healthy ageing. That’s one reason why this is such a great strategy to use not only for weight loss, but also as a lifestyle diet, as we get older. When the body is in a fasting state, rather than putting energy into breaking down food, the body goes into restorative mode and can use that energy to stimulate the immune system and eliminate damaged cells, this is known as autophagy. The nature of ageing is that as we get older, we produce more damaged cells.
But with intermittent fasting, we’re allowing our bodies to use more energy to get rid of those damaged cells, which is beneficial for several reasons.
- Firstly, feeding damaged cells drains energy, so eliminating them preserves energy for other uses.
- More importantly, we don’t want damaged cells to transition into cancerous cells, so the added benefit of eliminating these cells is fantastic. I always call it “spring clean up” for the cells!
Intermittent fasting can also stimulate stem cells to produce new healthy cells, so you’re getting a regeneration of cells. It’s like cleaning out your closet – you get rid of the old clothes and bring in the new ones, which are much more exciting. So this is another great benefit of intermittent fasting, giving your body a break so it can go into restorative mode. Thus, from an aging standpoint, it’s hugely beneficial. While using intermittent fasting, many of my clients have said they receive compliments about looking healthy, not just because they have lost weight, but their skin looks healthy, their eyes are brighter, they look 10 years younger. There’s a certain vitality that you can feel and see while using intermittent fasting.
Beyond the weight loss, these are just some of the benefits of intermittent fasting. Even if you don’t have challenges with your weight, it’s something I recommend looking into as an overall lifestyle, as there are so many benefits that everyone can appreciate.
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