Intermittent or interval fasting is an eating method that may consist of not eating for several hours during the day.
According to studies, some benefits of intermittent fasting are: stabilizing weight, regulating certain hormones, and causing changes in the body’s aging processes. (1,2,3)
Additionally, while more studies remain to confirm this benefit, various studies suggest this method may help prevent certain types of cancer.
Here are the benefits of intermittent fasting and what are the changes in the body.
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- Intermittent fasting can increase cell regeneration.
During fasting, various changes occur in your metabolism.
For example, your body starts a process called autophagy. This allows for to consumption of old cells and increases cell repair.
Research has shown that one of the benefits of intermittent fasting is increasing cell regeneration. This could have benefits for skin health.
- It can help you reduce abdominal fat.
Intermittent fasting may help you reduce belly fat and make it easier to burn fat from the body.
This is because, during fasting, insulin levels drop significantly, which results in a change in the body that allows fat to be used as an energy source.
The results were very similar in a study where the effects of intermittent fasting were compared to a low-calorie diet. (5)
In this research, the participants reduced up to 8% of body weight and 7% of total visceral fat.
- Interval fasting can prevent type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have significant benefits for people with diabetes and lead to a substantial reduction in blood glucose levels.
Having low blood sugar levels during fasting can increase the sensitivity of the hormone to insulin.
In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar was lowered by 8%, while fasting insulin was reduced by 20-31%. (5)
Ultimately, if done frequently, one of the benefits of intermittent fasting is preventing diabetes and reversing insulin resistance.
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- More growth hormone
Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting are related to changes in hormones.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase human growth hormone 4-5 times. In men, these values can be even higher. (6)
Having higher levels of this hormone can have benefits such as helping to burn fat and increase muscle mass.
- Remove old or damaged cells.
Interval fasting helps eliminate proteins and old or damaged cells. When there is little energy in the body, cells can use it as an energy source.
This is a method that the body has to eliminate cellular waste and is associated with several benefits.
For example, it helps to slow down aging and increases the rate of cell change and renewal.
- Intermittent fasting can help prevent cancer.
Fasting has been shown to have several beneficial effects on metabolism that can reduce cancer risk.
Although more human studies are needed, evidence today in animals indicates that intermittent fasting can help prevent cancer. (7.8)
Tumors appear to grow larger when glucose is available. Lack of glucose in the body may help reduce the spread of cancer.
- It can help strengthen the brain.
Intermittent fasting improves several metabolic characteristics that are important for brain health.
For example, it can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation of brain cells.
Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting can increase the growth of new nerve cells, which may benefit brain function. (9)
It can also cause changes in the levels of a brain hormone called BDFN, linked to brain problems such as depression.
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Opinions and results according to doctors
In 2016, Japanese scientist Yoshinori Osumi received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for studying intermittent fasting.
Osumi found that periods of fasting have a positive effect on cell renewal and help slow down the aging process. (10)
Evidence suggests that intermittent fasting, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be particularly effective for weight loss, especially for people at risk for diabetes. – Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and Harvard Professor (11)
However, people with advanced diabetes, who are taking medications, people with a history of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, and pregnant or lactating women should not attempt intermittent fasting unless supervised by a doctor who can control them.
Intermittent or interval fasting is an eating method with several effects and benefits on the body.
It can help you lose weight, regulate carbohydrate metabolism, and normalize the body’s hormonal level.
According to doctors, interval fasting may not only have sound effects on body weight but also help reduce appetite.
As for cancer, more studies are still needed to confirm its benefits.