What is intermittent fasting? How does it work?
What you eat matters. But when you eat and what time window of the day you choose to eat may also matter! Fasting has been practiced for centuries and has kept scientists curious to learn how it impacts our health and wellbeing. Recent developments in research has reignited this curiosity and recharged the scientific community to explore it further.
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Intermittent fasting is practiced in variety of ways like alternate day eating pattern, eating during a particular time window of the day (time restricted eating, e.g. eating from 8am to 4pm) and many more. The food you eat gets digested and broken down in variety of nutrients and nourish various parts of your body. In fasting state, initially the supply of energy comes from amino acids from protein breakdown (gluconeogenesis), but as the time goes by, ketone levels increase in the body from fat breakdown which in turn becomes the primary source of energy instead of glucose, sparing the precious proteins! With this metabolic shift, several changes may potentially happen in various hormone levels (like decrease in insulin, thyroid), beneficial effects on gut microbiome, decrease in inflammation and putting the body tissues in autophagy (self-cleaning) mode where it cleans out damaged and unnecessary cells.
Some studies show that intermittent fasting may help in weight loss. However further research is needed to confirm true benefits from intermittent fasting. Some animal studies have shown reduction in inflammation, delay in aging and improved cognition from intermittent fasting.
Having said that, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It may also lead to complications like low sugars (especially if you are on diabetes medications), dehydration, gout, weakness etc. Before attempting to try intermittent fasting, you should consult with your primary care physician to make sure if it is safe for you to try it.
National Institute of Health - Western Journal of Medicine
National Institute of Health - Current Obesity Report
National Institute of Health - Cell Metabolism
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