Why is intermittent fasting so beneficial to weight loss and health?
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that limits the time when food can be consumed to a set number of hours each day, with a complete lack of food for the rest of the time. It’s gaining a huge following as a way of managing weight and for its amazing effects on health as well as its ability to limit the chances of developing some serious diseases as we age.
Recently there has been a lot of scientific interest in intermittent fasting and it is now better understood that by concentrating not just on what we eat but on when we eat, we can make a profound difference to our health and weight now and in the future.
One of the main reasons for intermittent fasting being so beneficial to health and longevity is that when the body is deprived of nutrients it initiates a process of autophagy.
Autophagy is a natural cleansing and repairing process, as well as a way of seeking out and destroying pathogens. It is implicated in many other beneficial outcomes such as its ability to reset the immune system, seek out cancer cells, reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer. It can also reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer and Parkinson disease, and slow down the aging process.
With such a long list of amazing benefits, its no wonder that Autophagy is something that we would want to occur often. You can read more about autophagy and fasting in general here .
Which intermittent fasting plan is best?
There are many methods of fasting and opinions differ about which is most beneficial. You can read about this here.
In my opinion the 16/8 fasting plan is one of the best, and here is why:
The 16/8 fasting plan (includes sleep time)
The 16/8 plan is one of the most popular methods of intermittent fasting. As the name suggests, all food is taken within an 8-hour window, with just calorie free fluids such as water or black coffee for the rest of the time.
The journal of nutrition and Healthy aging reported on the findings of Proffesor Krista Varady, associate professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Between the hours of 10am – 6pm 23 obese subjects ate whatever they wanted, and drank only water or calorie free drinks for the remaining 16 hours.
Compared with a control group who fasted on alternate days, the 16/8 group ate fewer calories daily and lost 3% of their weight and had improved blood pressure.
Another study by Tatiana Moro,Grant Tinsley, Antonino Bianco,Giuseppe Marcolin,Quirico Francesco Pacelli,Giuseppe Battaglia, Antonio Palma, Paulo Gentil, Marco Neri, and Antonio Paoli “Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-trained males” provides further amazing evidence for the 16/8 diet.
34 resistance-trained males followed the 16/8 diet for 8 weeks. They all ate their meals at 1pm, 4pm and 8pm, eating their normal amount of calories. A control group ate at 8am, 1pm and 8pm.
In all the 16/8 subjects there was a decrease in fat mass even though their calorie intake remained the same, and the study showed that there was no loss of muscle mass and there was an increase in health related bio-markers.
Eating this way has also been shown to help you get into ketosis, which is important to those of you who plan to follow the healthy keto diet. You will still need to follow the guidelines for eating the keto way, but fasting beforehand will definitely get you into the vital ketosis zone sooner.
So the science shows the benefits of the 16/8 intermittent diet, which is always great news for us, and one of the reasons why it is my personal favourite out of all of the intermittent diet plans.
Why is the 16/8 plan so popular?
The reason this plan is so popular is easy to see. It’s a straightforward way of taking control of your diet, as most people find it easy to follow.
It is very flexible in that it can be practiced every day or a few times a week depending on personal health or weight loss goals.
Its flexibility also makes this plan easy to tailor to your individual lifestyle and you can fit this eating plan around social engagements and work commitments.
By simply not having breakfast you can reach your 16 hours with minimal effort. For example, if your were to eat your evening meal at 8pm and then nothing more before you went to bed, you would have achieved an 18-hour fast by delaying your next meal until lunchtime the following day, at noon.
It’s completely acceptable to choose any time for your last meal, depending on what suits you or when you most like to eat. As long as the fasting period remains the same, you’re good.
It’s very important to make sure that you are eating nutrient rich foods during your eating window, and that you are eating sufficient food. The keto diet with its emphasis on fat can keep you satiated for a long time, and its surprisingly easy to under eat without realizing because you don’t feel hungry.
On the other hand its equally important to make sure you don’t compensate for your fast by overeating as soon as you have your first meal. As always, you must aim to eat the correct amount of food for your weight loss goals or health needs.
The take home message
The 16/8 intermittent diet plan is a simple and effective way of losing fat, improving your health and inducing Autophagy with all its health benefits and preventative processes.
You can loose body fat, maintain your metabolic rate, and improve your health. It has been shown to cause fat loss, even when you are keeping to your normal calorie intake.
Due to its ability to induce Autophagy, your health and immune system will improve. You could also minimize your risk of developing Alzheimers or Parkinson disease.
It’s very easy to follow, and ultra flexible and will fit into any lifestyle.
If you are planning on starting the keto diet, fasting beforehand will help to get you into ketosis.
Due to the fact that its easy to follow, there is a greater chance of you keeping to this way of eating and gaining all its benefits.
It’s completely free, and available to you at any time.