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The Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

There are plenty health benefits related to intermittent fasting. Its growing popularity proves so and even doctors are recommending it to their patients.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but a lifestyle. Following this eating pattern means you eat between a fixed amount of time (let’s say between 10.00 and 18.00) and fast the remaining hours. With intermittent fasting it’s possible to not eat anything for days, or just for a few hours a day. A fast needs to span a minimum of 12 hours in order to be effective.

Health benefits

Fasting has many proven health benefits. The longer the fast, the greater these benefits will be. Here are some of the most crucial ones:
-Weight loss. Your body will start using fat cells as its primary energy source instead of the sugar of the food you’re digesting.
-It prevents type 2 diabetes. Your body will learn to absorb sugar better, resulting in lower blood sugar levels and improved insulin resistance.
-You will live longer. The less you eat, the longer you live, because fasting gives your body the time to focus on repairing its cells, instead of digesting food.
-It improves brain function. The protein brain-derived neuropathic factor is increased which results in the production of new neurons. This will prevent brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and causes improved memory.
-A stronger immune system. Ever noticed how when you’re feeling sick, you’re not hungry? This is because your body needs to focus on getting better, not on digesting food. So, when you’re not eating anything your immune system can focus on other tasks, like fighting viruses or bacteria which enter your body, resulting in being sick less often.
-It lowers oxidative stress. This means your body will be less susceptible to damage from free radicals, which results in less inflammation in the body. This is a major key in the prevention of chronic illnesses and ageing.

Downsides

-Feeling hungry. When you start intermittent fasting, you might experience immense hunger. But don’t worry. Once your body gets used to fasting, this feeling will disappear!
-Bad breath. When you’re not eating anything, the bacteria in your mouth will not be washed away, resulting in this foul smell. Drinking water or tea will eliminate these bacteria and reduce the smell.

Misconceptions

-Fasting slows down your metabolism. This is false. Studies even prove the opposite is true. By giving your digestive system a rest it can improve its efficiency. Thus, giving your digestive system a break occasionally, results in burning more calories.
-Muscle loss. This is a major misconception. While fasting, your body first breaks down its remaining glucose, afterwards it will burn its fat reserves. Muscles are the last source your body will deplete. So, unless you’re planning on not eating anything for months, this is no serious concern. Of course, don’t forget to stack up on protein when you’re eating, since protein will increase your muscle mass and help maintain muscle, and the greater your muscle mass, the more calories you’ll burn.

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