You’ve probably heard that intermittent fasting leads to weight loss, increased energy and some other certain health benefits. But is it true? We’ve got fasting pros and cons for you!
How intermittent fasting works?
Historically, the rejection of food has often been associated with religion. Also, fasting was prescribed by doctors in Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. In the XX century, scientists began to study the effects of hunger. And they’ve found its possible benefits for hypertension, obesity, asthma, pancreatitis and some other conditions.
Although more and more are talking about the meaninglessness of strict diets and the fact that the best food is varied and balanced, the idea of the benefits of complete starvation is still alive. It is promoted as a means of losing weight, as a way to detox, and even as a cure for a variety of diseases, including cancer.
Briefly, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern of periods of fasting and eating. Commonly, you have daily 16 to 24 hours fasts twice per week. The course of therapy, including the refusal of food, lasts an average of ten to twenty days, sometimes up to a month.
At this time, patients are under the strict supervision of doctors. There are contraindications, such as kidney problems, diabetes, weight deficit, or malignant tumors. Keep in mind that there is still no evidence that fasting can prevent the development of cancer or cure any disease.
Fasting pros and cons: What happens to your body
Just in a day after the last meal people feel really hungry. At this time, the body spends carbohydrate stores and tries to save energy until something else is eaten. All activity, including pressure and heart rate, reduces.
Carbohydrate stores end in about one or two days, and the body enters the next stage of hunger which might last several weeks. At this time, fat is used as an energy source.
In addition, certain hormones’ levels change, insulin lowers, and certain cells might get repaired. Some believe that there are changes in the function of genes related to longevity due to fasting.
Fasting pros and cons: Consequences of starvation
In fact, any detox involves liver and kidneys first. They do withdraw toxic products. Unfortunately, seems like fasting does not affect this process at all. Nevertheless, studies show that short-term fasting can be beneficial, because it leads to an improvement in sensitivity to insulin and a decrease in blood pressure.
Another case is fasting pros and cons for weight loss. When fasting is over, the body will actually remain in the energy conservation regime (that is, to store excess food, including fat, while trying to spend less) for some time. But, if you come back to your usual way of life and diet, you’d gain back all the pounds lost. Therefore, you will need a balanced diet and an active lifestyle anyway.
Why did everyone become obsessed with fasting?
People think that a short-term refusal of food serves as a shake-up for the body, helps improve the regulation of glucose levels or trigger an anti-inflammatory process. In many cases, it lasts three to seven days, in order to detox the body and refresh the brain.
This is part of the trend for biohacking, or do-it-yourself biology (that is, attempts to change the body’s biology to live as long and productively as possible).
To risk or not to risk?
Fasting is accompanied by some unpleasant sensations, such as discomfort in the abdomen, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, nausea or vomiting (not to mention the obvious feeling of hunger). If you abuse this practice, it can lead to a deficiency of vitamins and minerals. Prolonged refusal of food weakens the immune system.
However, you might try it under the supervision of specialists. But mind that seems like fasting is not a panacea. It can only alleviate some of the symptoms without solving the underlying problem.