intermittent fasting boosts health

does intermittent fasting have any benefits beyond weight loss? the alternative daily attempts to answer this question

Fasting benefits our health in a number of ways. Firstly, it can help to stabilize insulin and leptin sensitivity, and even boost mitochondrial energy efficiency. You may be aware that sugar is a source of energy for your body; however, it can also prove quite damaging to your system as consuming it promotes insulin resistance. This resistance can lead the way to the development of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.

Intermittent fasting helps your body shift from using glucose as a primary fuel source to using fat. This means our fat stores — particularly triglyceride fats — are broken down by the body and used for energy. This shift from sugar-burning to fat-burning metabolism has been scientifically proven to lower your risk of chronic disease.

Next, intermittent fasting can lead to a dramatic reduction in cholesterol, with studies confirming that the decrease in total cholesterol from fasting can be as high as 20 percent. Added to this beneficial reduction in total cholesterol is a healthy reconfiguring of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. Research indicates that after eight weeks of alternate-day intermittent fasting, LDL levels are reduced by 25 percent, with a further beneficial decrease in smaller, denser LDL particles. And while LDL levels decrease, the healthy HDL cholesterol levels remain the same, meaning that you gain a much healthier LDL to HDL ratio. That’s great news for your cardiovascular health. 

Intermittent fasting is also responsible for significant decreases in inflammation. A recent study investigated the effect of fasting on an important inflammatory marker, NLRP3, finding that fasting was directly correlated with a reduction in the levels of this marker. Intermittent fasting also fights inflammation by decreasing the accumulation of oxidative radicals in your body’s cells, thus preventing oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids and nucleic acids. 

Intermittent fasting can even be good for your brain. One study examined the effect of intermittent fasting on motor coordination skills, protein and DNA damage in the brain. The study found that fasting was associated with improved motor coordination and learning response, and a decrease in oxidative stress on the brain.

Why intermittent fasting can slow the aging process

Due to the beneficial effects discussed above, intermittent fasting has been linked to improved longevity in animals — in other words, to slow the process of aging. The mechanisms contributing to this effect are wide-ranging; however, normalization of insulin sensitivity is a major player, along with reduction in oxidative stress.

Oxidative damage to the proteins, lipids and nucleic acids of cells is directly linked to aging, therefore a reduction in this activity can only mean good news for your hopes of a continuing youthful complexion. This lowering of oxidative stress as a direct result of intermittent fasting can also help to prevent neurological decline as you age, helping to decrease the rate of cognitive decay that is typically associated with the aging process.

Fit But Not Healthy

The evidence is so compelling, in fact, that Mattson is close to launching a human trial in which he hypothesizes that intermittent fasting may improve performance on cognitive tests and change neural network connections and markers of oxidative stress and inflammation.

The basic premise, presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, is that the stress of fasting and exercise helps the brain adapt and improve the energy flow of neurons. Specifically, fasting and exercise seem to increase the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), thought to be key in the growth and division of mitochondria.

“That seems to be important for BDNF’s effect on learning and memory,” Mattson said.

Want to Lose Weight? Skip These Diets

The upcoming human study would seek people who are at risk for cognitive impairment — obese individuals between 55 and 70 with insulin resistance who are not being treated for diabetes. They would be put through “a battery of cognitive tests,” Mattson said, while their brains were scanned by fMRI.

They’d also undergo the scan in a resting state. Then, after two months with half the group on a 5-2 diet (eating a calorie-restricted diet for two non-consecutive days a week and unconstrained eating the other five days), the researchers would repeat the evaluations and compare them to the control group.

Although exercise and fasting can produce some similar results (increased production of BDNF, for example), Eric Ravussin, Associate Executive Director for Clinical Science at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, points out that the mechanisms are very different. Still, there’s some preliminary ruminating that combining a short fast and exercise could piggyback to more quickly get the optimal results.

“The thing that’s important is to dig into fat stores,” Ravussin said. “The longer the fast,the better. Or the more exercise, the better. If you could run at 6 a.m. and then skip breakfast, this would be the ideal.”

“We haven’t connected all the dots, but we know that exercise and intermittent fasting increases BDNF and that BDNF can slow resting heart rate,” Mattson said.

How the Human Brain Gets Its Wrinkles

In a review published this week in PNAS, the authors (including Ravussin and Matson) point out that an intermittent fasting type of diet has evolutionary roots — it’s likely closer to the way our ancestors ate.

But if the thought of fasting makes you cringe, there’s good news: intermittent fasting can be as simple as severely restricting your calories just two days a week. Eat what you want five days of the week, and then eat 500 or so calories twice a week. Most people have better success at that model, which is popular in some fitness circles, than its precursor, alternate day fasting.

this article can be seen here for further reading

cheat days on intermittent fasting

can cheat days help you fat loss efforts?, research shows that it does help, but there is also conflicting research in this regard. we look into the topic

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology reports that cheat days, or “planned hedonic deviations” in science-speak, may actually help motivate you to stick to your diet plan. CAKE!

Researchers conducted three experiments to see if subjects were more likely to follow through with goals if allowed cheat days. First, participants were instructed to imagine being either on a 1,500-calorie diet or 1,300-calorie diet with a 2,700-calorie cheat day at the end of each week. Those given a cheat day predicted they would resist temptation better despite the stricter diet. Researchers then asked 36 people to actually follow the diets for two weeks and, lo and behold, those with a cheat day reported being able to maintain more self control than those on a steady 1,500-calorie daily diet. Both groups lost similar amounts of weight over the time period, however.

Authors of the study concluded that having a zero-tolerance approach to “cheat” food wears down motivation. Cheat days, or “intermittent striving,” are not only proven to put people in a better mood but can help you avoid the “failure cascade,” or that moment when you eat one cookie and consequently derail your entire diet plan by eating the whole box. Thus, eating whatever the heck you want one day of the week > sneakily, guiltily taking little bites of dessert every day.

this is a great topic to cover and we believe that you should work hard on your fasting days but try to limit your cheat days

intermittent fasting and excercise

A lot of studies have found that training or working out in a fasted state is a marvelous way to build lean mass and boost insulin sensitivity, not just because of the cascade of hormonal changes throughout the body that enables it to maximize your muscle building and fat burning potential, but also because it makes the body more efficient in absorbing the post-workout meal. This is also the reason why one must eat smart after a workout, because what you take in is crucial for your body. This is where recovery drinks and high protein food are of utmost importance. For those who do endurance training, don’t forget the carbs. They’re not the enemy; never have been.

Endurance training while fasted is beneficial for it can make the body better at using its energy stores. When you’re used to running on empty, it will also significantly improve the quality your workouts or races once you do these in a fed state. In other words, when your body gets used to exerting itself without any fuel, once it does have food in its system, its performance will peak even better. One study has found that aerobic training while in a fasted state leads to reductions in both body weight and body fat, while a fed workout only decreases weight.

Some studies also show that a fasted exercise is somewhat like a “fountain of youth.” According to, exercise and fasting together also yield oxidative stress, which benefits your muscles all the main determinants of muscle aging are counteracted. When exercise and fasting are combined, they trigger the mechanism that recycles and rejuvenates your brain and muscle tissues. It also keeps your brain, neuro-motors and muscle fibers biologically young. Basically, a combination of IF with intense exercise goes beyond just burning fat and losing weight, as it helps turn back the biological clock in your muscle and brain, boosts your growth hormone, improves your body composition, boosts your cognitive function, boosts testosterone and prevents depression.

read full post here and check out this video where the topic is expanded


celebrities who use intermittent fasting

hugh jackman has been known to follow the if diet for all his wolverine movies.This diet helps him to gain lots of muscles while trying to stay lean in the process

Autophagy may sound like a mouthful but it is in fact the ultimate recycling system. It preserves the health of tissue by replacing out-dated and damaged parts of your cell with fresh ones.

Your cells create membranes that hunt out scraps of dead, diseased, or worn-out cells; gobble them up; strip ’em for parts; and use the resulting molecules for energy or to make new cell parts,” explains Dr. Colin Champ, a board-certified oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In the process autophagy also eats up any pathogenic organisms such as bad bacteria’s.

The consumption of these dangerous bits creates fuel for your cell, as well as reusing the healthy parts. Cells can also digest long-lived proteins to release amino acids providing you with more fuel. This process is a powerful promoter of metabolic homeostasis (balance). In a nutshell autophagy is a major key in slowing the aging process.

Experts are finding evidence that autophagy plays a role in controlling inflammation and immune response. It can help prevent cancerous growths and metabolic dysfunction such as obesity and diabetes. In a set of studies conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, Eileen White and her colleagues found that autophagy protects against DNA damage. When they inhibited autophagy, they observed more chromosomal abnormalities, which are typically associated with tumorigenesis.

Exercise and Fasting


During exercise we create micro-tears in the tissue, where it will break down and reform in a stronger state. This process activates autophagy. The key to preventing disease and slowing down the aging process lies in optimizing mitochondrial function and increasing mitochondrial numbers. Thankfully, exercise helps you do both. The cell membranes quickly begin their job of gobbling up and recycling the damaged tissue. The exercise stimulates your mitochondria, the organelles in every cell that produce ATP (energy). The amount of exercise required to stimulate autophagy in humans is still unknown, however it is believed that short bursts of intense exercise is more effective than mild exercise.

Low Carb Low Protein and Fasting

Lowering your carbohydrate intake is a great way to kick autophagy into play. By that I mean eliminating processed foods, low fat dairy and limiting grains. If the body is getting it’s main fuel supply from vegetables and fat instead of sugar and protein it has a chance to turn on the autophagy system. Vegetable fiber is not broken down into sugar but travels to your intestine where it is consumed by your beneficial bacteria, and converted to short chain fats that actually improve your health.

Eating too much animal protein can stimulate IGF-1 and mTOR, which are potent inhibitors of autophagy. Limiting your protein to less than 70 grams a day is likely to turn the autophagy switch on. Processed fats will also hamper this regenerative state by binding to the inner mitochondrial membrane, making it highly susceptible to oxidative damage and death. If you focus on eating avocados, olives, nuts, coconut, seeds, eggs and fish and have small amounts of meat and dairy every few days, you are will most likely be successful.


Intermittent Fasting

First used in the early 1900s by doctors to treat various disorders such as diabetes, obesity and epilepsy, intermittent fasting is now making a comeback. Fasting from food for periods such as 12 to 16 hours between supper and breakfast appears to have multiple health benefits. Recently, Professor Mark Mattson, Chief of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging and Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, has committed to the idea that intermittent fasting could lower the risk of degenerative brain diseases.


In some studies, intermittent fasting was shown to improve cognitive function, brain structure, and neuroplasticity, which help to increase your learning capacity and to keep your brain youthful and adaptable.


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the popularity of intermittent fasting

this trend has gained popularity over the last few years and has won over the medical profession. although its popularity comes from how it deals with diabetes it weight loss attributes attract a lot of people.

according to jennifer Stewart who was interviewed on nbc news

“I lose weight very slowly and don’t lose weight like normal people,” says Stewart. “I had tried all kinds of diets. I went to a nutritionist in my late teens. I would lose like a half a pound a week and it didn’t quite make sense.”

But then, about two years ago, Stewart, 54, discovered intermittent fasting, a method of dieting that has gained popularity over the last decade.

For Stewart, here’s how she started: Every other day she would eat no more than 500 calories and on the days in between, called her “feast” days, she consumed about 2,200 calories.

And unlike other weight loss plans that usually restrict refined carbs, fat, or sugar, Stewart eats whatever she wants on her feast days.

“I still get in 100 grams of protein (on the feast day) which for me is important and on the fast day I would eat almost all non-carb foods because that helps curtail cravings,” says Stewart.

It’s a diet that was originally criticized by the medical community, but now is gathering scientific backing.

In Phase 1 of the plan, which lasted about 18 months, Stewart lost 110 pounds. Krista Varady, associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has extensively researched alternate-day fasting. In one study of 700 people, she found they were typically unable to binge on their feast day. Instead, they tend to only eat about 10 percent more than they usually would.

“In terms of weight loss, we found people lose in general about 10 to 30 pounds in eight weeks,” said Varady. “People also tend to see reductions in bad cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure.”

However, her research shows alternate day fasting is not for everyone. 10 percent of the people in her study dropped out in the first 10 days.

And another report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found for women, that alternate-day fasting could decrease glucose tolerance and potentially disrupt their metabolism.

Stewart is now on a maintenance plan. For her that’s, 1000 calories on fasting days, 2,000 on feast days. It has helped her lose an additional 20 pounds, and gain confidence.

“I feel content, that’s how I feel,” says Stewart. “I don’t feel like I’ve arrived because I was always the fattest person in the room. I had the biggest rear end in the room. Now I don’t have the biggest rear end in the room and I think that’s a wonderful accomplishment.”

Points to consider when trying to build body through fasting

  • Intermittent fasting concept especially for beginners of bodybuilding might appear to be some Herculean task, prompting them to give up easily in not time. However, one has to understand the fact that fasting during regular time intervals does help to boost his level of confidence over time. For deriving optimum results, perseverance needs to be maintained.
  • At the same time, care should be taken while fasting, so as not to strain or go overboard. It has been noticed that people being in a hurry for deriving that wonderful body that they have been dreaming about, tend to fast in excess, thereby causing them to fall sick, which is to be avoided.
  • It can be prevented by being wary of the different clues and hints that the body gives. If the person feels tired and giddy, then he should immediately have something or the other.

According to experts, it is no use trying to fast for some time, only to have plenty of calories immediately on completing the fasting. Rather, the person needs to take in calories slowly and to exercise appropriately as desired, to ensure not overdoing the exercises and to avoid getting hurt in the process.

Bodybuilding and fasting can be termed to be among those time tested methods to purify the body and to maintain in good condition. Through intermittent fasting it becomes possible to have the body to be in great shape and fitness, thereby providing the much needed confidence and to realize the importance and value of food.

Also, it forms the fundamental developing blocks towards body building as this is necessary to enjoy having a conditioned body. Therefore, fasting can be a great way to get the desired shape and fitness desired by the person.

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