10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.

Numerous studies show that it can have powerful benefits for your body and brain.

Here are 10 evidence-based health benefits of intermittent fasting.

1. Intermittent Fasting Changes The Function of Cells, Genes and Hormones

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When you don’t eat for a while, several things happen in your body.

For example, your body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible.

Here are some of the changes that occur in your body during fasting:

Insulin levels: Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning .
Human growth hormone: The blood levels of growth hormone may increase as much as 5-fold . Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, and have numerous other benefits .
Cellular repair: The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells .
Gene expression: There are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease .
Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting are related to these changes in hormones, gene expression and function of cells.

BOTTOM LINE:
When you fast, insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases. Your cells also initiate important cellular repair processes and change which genes they express.

2. Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat

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Many of those who try intermittent fasting are doing it in order to lose weight .

Generally speaking, intermittent fasting will make you eat fewer meals.

Unless if you compensate by eating much more during the other meals, you will end up taking in fewer calories.

Additionally, intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss.

Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.

For this reason, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories .

In other words, intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It boosts your metabolic rate (increases calories out) and reduces the amount of food you eat (reduces calories in).

According to a 2014 review of the scientific literature, intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks . This is a huge amount.

The people also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference, which indicates that they lost lots of belly fat, the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that causes disease.

One review study also showed that intermittent fasting caused less muscle loss than continuous calorie restriction .

All things considered, intermittent fasting can be an incredibly powerful weight loss tool. More details here: How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight.

BOTTOM LINE:
Intermittent fasting helps you eat fewer calories, while boosting metabolism slightly. It is a very effective tool to lose weight and belly fat.

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