Intermittent fasting: is it worth the hype?

Intermittent fasting is becoming a popular weight loss dieting strategy. You may have heard that intermittent fasting is a way to manage your weight and prevent, or even reverse, some forms of disease. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. The 3 main types of of intermittent fasting are:

  • modified fasting or the 5:2 diet– this protocol involves fasting for 2 non-consecutive days of the week, and eating normally for 5 days.
  • alternate-day fasting– fasting days are alternated with days where foods and beverages are consumed normally.
  • time-restricted eating– a type of intermittent fasting that limits the “eating window” to 4 to 12 hours, inducing a daily fasting period of 12 to 20 hours.

Many people, including celebrities, have touted weight loss benefits from intermittent fasting. Furthermore, promising studies show that intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of developing some chronic diseases.

What are the health benefits?

The following are some benefits of intermittent fasting. Most of these benefits are attributed to daily fasting periods of no less than 14 hours.

  1. Thinking and memory. Studies discovered that intermittent fasting boosts working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans.
  2. Heart health. Intermittent fasting can improve blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other heart-related measurements. It can also improve cholesterol levels.
  3. Physical performance. Young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice who were fed on alternate days showed better endurance in running.
  4. Diabetes and obesity. In animal studies, intermittent fasting prevented obesity. And in six brief studies, obese adult humans lost weight through intermittent fasting.
  5. Tissue health. In animals, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage in surgery and improved results.

Is intermittent fasting for everyone?

The following groups of people should avoid intermittent fasting:

  • Children and teens under age 18.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • People with diabetes or blood sugar problems.
  • Those with a history of eating disorders.

As always, you should talk to your doctor before starting any dieting regimen.

Tried everything, including intermittent fasting, but still can’t lose weight? There may be underlying reasons. Click here to discover 5 hidden causes to weight gain.


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