Intermittent fasting is the decrease in food intake over a certain period of time. Many variations exist and it can be adapted to each person regarding their lifestyle. Some people only reduce the quantity of food they eat during that time (or eat lighter food) and others stop eating completely. Technically, everyone is already fasting at night, about 8 to 10 hours. In intermittent fasting, this period lasts between 16 and 24 hours in a row. During the food intake period, there are no restrictions regarding calories, nutrients, meals or snacks.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

It is recognized that this kind of fasting is very effective in the process of weight loss and daily body detoxification.

Beyond that, intermittent fasting also helps to restore hormonal balance, increase insulin sensitivity, increase growth hormone and protein synthesis, reduce cholesterol, reduce inflammation, increase cognitive abilities, regulate hunger (after a short period of adaptation) and slow down aging by improving some processes like autophagy.

Mark Mattson, Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, has conducted various studies on fasting and caloric restriction. In one of them, overweight adults with moderate asthma consumed 20% of their caloric intake on certain days, alternating with days when they ate normally. Participants lost 8% of their initial weight in 8 weeks.

Furthermore, markers of oxidative stress and inflammation had decreased and asthma associated symptoms improved. Thus, fasting could reduce oxidative stress experienced by our bodies.

Experienced on mice, fasting showed some additional benefits. A study published in PLOS ONE shows that intermittent fasting improves cognitive function in mice.

Fasting would alleviate brain aging and protect memory as well as learning functions.

“From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense your brain should be functioning well when you haven’t been able to obtain food for a while” says Mark Mattson.

Another scientific article recently published by Catherine Marinac a Ph.D.

candidate selected as one of the brightest young individuals by Forbes magazine, shows that intermittent fasting can improve glucose control and reduce breast cancer risk.

Intermittent fasting is the latest diet trend

Intermittent fasting recently gained a lot of popularity because of its easiness and little restriction comparing to some other diets. Some celebrities like Beyonce, Miranda Kerr, Liv Tyler or Jennifer Aniston have decided to include this practice in their lifestyle to maintain a good figure and improve their overall health.

There are several ways to practice intermittent fasting even if the principle remains the same. You can simply choose the method that best fits your lifestyle.

For most people, the easiest way to practice it is to eat only during a period of time that lasts 6 to 8 hours. It can be done by skipping a meal for example or taking some time to wait when you wake up, before taking breakfast. There are other variations like eating on a window that lasts 4 to 8 hours or even having only one big meal a day. It is up to you to find which practice suits you best.

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