Intermittent fasting has gained popularity in recent years as a tool for weight loss and overall health improvement. However, fasting has a long history dating back to ancient times, where it was commonly used for spiritual and religious purposes.
In this blog post, I’ll explore the history of intermittent fasting, the benefits it provides, the different styles of fasting, and the things to be careful of when starting.
History of Intermittent Fasting:
Intermittent fasting has been around for thousands of years, with various cultures and religions incorporating it into their traditions. For example, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan, and many Christians fast during Lent.
In ancient Greece, Pythagoras was known to practice fasting, and even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, prescribed fasting as a treatment for illness.
“The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.”― Hippocrates
in the 19th century however, fasting lost popularity, as the idea of the most important meal of the day was introduced to ‘break the fast’ breakfast became popular,
This new trend has led to a rise in obesity rates, as people now consume more calories than they burn throughout the day.
Intermittent Fasting and the cleaning process
Fasting illicit’s a response in the body called autophagy, which is the body’s natural process of cleaning out damaged cells and regenerating new ones.
During fasting, the body shifts from using glucose as its primary energy source to burning fat, which triggers the process of autophagy.
Autophagy has been shown to have numerous benefits for the body, including:
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving insulin sensitivity
- Enhancing cognitive function.
It also plays a critical role in preventing the development of various diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. By inducing autophagy, fasting can help promote overall health and longevity.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting:
One of the primary benefits of intermittent fasting is weight loss. By restricting your eating window, you reduce the number of calories you consume throughout the day, which can lead to weight loss over time.
Additionally, intermittent fasting has been shown to increase human growth hormone and testosterone levels, which can help build muscle and burn fat.
Fasting has also been linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. It has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is crucial in preventing and managing diabetes.
The Different Styles of Fasting:
There are several different styles of fasting, ranging from an 8/16 fast, where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window.
Then there is OMAD (one meal a day) fast, where you eat all your calories within a single meal.
Other popular styles of fasting include alternate-day fasting, where you eat normally one day and fast the next, and the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally for five days and restrict calories to 500-600 for the other two days.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting Beyond Weight Loss:
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have numerous health benefits beyond weight loss.
Studies have found that it can improve
- Brain function
- Reduce inflammation
- Increase lifespan in animals.
Additionally, it has been shown to improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are crucial in maintaining heart health.
Things to Be Careful of When Starting Intermittent Fasting:
While fasting can be beneficial, it is not for everyone.
Women, in particular, should be careful when starting fasting, as it can affect hormone levels and menstrual cycles. Men should also be cautious if they have a history of low blood sugar.
Studies Showing the Benefits of Fasting:
- Intermittent Fasting vs. Daily Calorie Restriction for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention: A Review of Human Findings – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6836055/
- Effects of intermittent fasting on health markers in those with type 2 diabetes: A pilot study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071298/
- Intermittent fasting interventions for treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6128599/
Free piece of advice.
As someone who dips in and out of fasting, my one piece of advice when starting is to slowly lengthen the time of going without food!
So, rather than going straight into 16 hours of fasting, you may want to stick to 12 hours, then 13 hours, increase each day until you reach 16 hours, trust me, it will stop you from getting too hangry
In conclusion, intermittent fasting has a long history dating back to ancient times, has gained popularity in recent years for its numerous health benefits.
It has been shown to aid in weight loss, increase human growth hormone and testosterone levels, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve brain function, and even increase lifespan in animals.
Overall, fasting can be an effective tool for improving overall health and wellbeing when done safely and properly