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How Intermittent Fasting Can Improve Health and Lower Weight

by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sarka_Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) Every diet that actually works has one thing at its core: calorie reduction. Whether eating certain foods increases fat burning or scheduling your meals at different times actually improves digestion is widely debated, but the fact that eating less causes weight loss is indisputable. And what provides greater calorie reduction than fasting? Many religions include periods of fasting, saying it is good for the soul. Proponents say that fasting is a healthy way to rid the body of toxins and maintain control of cravings. But not everyone has the discipline to fast, plus there is always a real risk of putting your body into starvation mode, which means it won't give up its fat stores. Enter a reasonable and healthy solution to natural weight loss: intermittent fasting.

Instead of a 10-day cleanse or month-long juice fast, intermittent fasting works by doing shorter fasts. Intermittent fasting plans include everything from limiting the time during which you eat to 8 to 12 hours per day, or by fasting one or two days a week. These short-term fasts between periods of regular eating decreases caloric intake without risking starvation mode or ketosis. It is also much easier to maintain as a lifestyle. But does it work?

Many studies have found that calorie restriction extends lives, but research supports additional benefits of eating less, and specifically using intermittent fasting instead of continuous calorie reduction. According to Scientific American, restricting food intake can lower the risks of diseases, which could give you a healthier life.

A study performed in 2003 found that mice who engaged in periodic fasting showed greater signs of health than subjects who used continuous caloric restriction. One example that the researchers found was that the mice doing intermittent fasting had lower blood glucose and insulin levels. This correlates to a lower risk of developing diabetes as well as a higher insulin sensitivity.

 

The body's sensitivity to insulin is important because a reduced sensitivity is linked to heart failure, diabetes, and obesity. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose. People who live longer lives typically have low insulin levels, which is theorized to indicate that their high sensitivity means that they need less insulin. A study performed at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that mice who ate fatty foods but were limited to only eight hours per day of eating did not have high insulin levels. They also did not get fat.

To try intermittent fasting without too much hassle, limit how many hours of the day you allow yourself to eat. Start with only eating within a 12-hour period, such as 7 or 8 am to 7 or 8 pm. You can then gradually shrink this time to 10 hours as you adjust, and then ideally 8 hours. Skipping breakfast is an easy way to achieve this. Having an early lunch at 11am and finishing dinner by 7 pm would be a simple way intermittent fasting to lose weight and improve your health.

See also:

The Miracle of Fasting - Natural Hygiene Part 2

References

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-intermittent-fasting-might-help-you-live-longer-healthier-life
http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2013/06/28/intermittent-fasting-health-benefits.aspx
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/11/intermittent-fasting-does-it-work_n_3039869.html

About the Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy. Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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