Intermittent fasting is not the average diet trend. Over the years, some fad diets have led followers to adhere to ridiculous guidelines that can lead to weight gain and other negative health consequences. What sets intermittent fasting apart is that it builds upon other healthy behaviors, like calorie restriction, and does not tell dieters to do anything that would cause them harm. Not only does anecdotal evidence support the positive effects of intermittent fasting, but its benefits are backed by science.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is the practice of abstaining from food or drinks for a set period of time. There are multiple ways in which someone can intermittently fast, but the most popular is the 16/8 method, in which you eat for a designated 8 hour window, and fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day (water and zero-calorie, natural beverages like black coffee and tea are generally okay to consume during the fasting window). However you choose to approach intermittent fasting, abstaining from food for short periods of time can have many health benefits.
Intermittent fasting is just one of many ways you can seek to have a biological influence on your mind and body. Biohacking for Beginners will help you make simple changes to your life that will improve longevity and keep your brain functioning at a high rate well into the future.
Below are some of the ways that intermittent fasting can transform your mind and help you get the most out of life.
Help Prevent Plaque for Brain Health with a Fast
Intermittent fasting has benefits for both the body and mind. The brain is the most important, and most complex, organ of the body. What we eat and put into our bodies can have a profound effect on brain health. In addition to what we eat, research shows that eating patterns can also play a role.
Intermittent fasting can also be referred to as short-term fasting. Studies show that this type of fasting induces neuronal autophagy. Autophagy is a process by which cells cells can repair themselves; neural autophagy is essential for the health of brain cells, and thus the brain as a whole. Studies show that without neuronal autophagy, the brain does not develop properly. But, things like intermittent fasting induce the autophagy and thus keep the brain functioning at its highest level.
In addition to inducing this autophagy, intermittent fasting has been proven to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that functions to both help neurons survive as well as generate new neurons and synapses, which facilitate communication between different neurons. BDNF is essential to maintain optimal cognitive functioning- low BDNF is associated with memory loss and Alzheimer’s. So, by increasing levels of BDNF through intermittent fasting, you are keeping your brain in tip-top shape.
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Improved Focus During and After a FastThings like brain fog and fatigue are common obstacles people face throughout the day. Not only are these feelings uncomfortable, but they can interfere with you achieving your goals at work, home, and the gym. Intermittent fasting is considered one of the best brain hacks, and may be what you need to improve your focus and ditch the brain fog.
Digestion takes a lot of energy. Have you ever felt like you need to take a nap after eating? Even when your reaction to eating is not as extreme, digestion is using up a large amount of your body’s precious energy. By holding off on eating until the afternoon (or whenever the end of your 16 hour fasting window is), your body can devote all of that energy towards your brain, helping you stay focused on whatever task is at hand. Instead of your normal breakfast, try starting your day with water, coffee, and a nootropic supplement to feel more energized and focused.
Intermittent fasting, coupled with eating a nootropic diet, can help keep your blood sugar levels stable. This means fewer energy highs and lows throughout the day, so you can keep powering through what your tasks and feel great doing it.
Optimize Cellular Health with a FastOver the course of your life, your cells get worn down. This process can be amplified by poor diet and lifestyle factors, while healthy eating habits and exercise help to preserve cellular health over time. Intermittent fasting is one of the dietary choices that has a positive impact on cellular health and repair.
As previously mentioned, short-term fasting induces neuronal autophagy, preserving the health of brain cells. But, the brain cells are not the only cells of the body that benefit from IF.
Mitochondria, as the main fuel of the cell, play an important role in overall health. But, over time, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) can become damaged. In addition to the brain, other critical organs such as the heart and liver suffer as a result of damaged mtDNA. Physical inactivity and overeating lead to an overload of lipids and glucose in the body, a phenomenon known as metabolic oversupply. Consistent metabolic oversupply damages mtDNA and cells as a whole. This can play a role in the development of chronic disease.
But, intermittent fasting is a great way to control caloric intake. By restricting eating to a shorter window, you are less likely to overeat throughout the day. This means you can protect the integrity of your mtDNA and the rest of your cells to stay healthy over time. A healthy diet, short-term fasting, and regular exercise are the trifecta of maintaining good cellular health.
Fasting Aids Weight Loss, Yes ReallyOf all the benefits intermittent fasting has to offer, weight loss is probably the most well known. Many people become interested in intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight. And, for good reason. IF is a great way to lose weight, and despite the set eating windows, is much less restrictive than many other weight loss diets.
In general, those who follow intermittent fasting simply eat less during the day, and thus can increase their caloric deficit. This is not true for people who overeat during their eating window. But, if you eat a whole-foods diet and listen to your body’s hunger signals, it is very likely you will eat fewer calories each day by following an intermittent fasting eating schedule.
Not only does intermittent fasting help people achieve the caloric deficit necessary for weight loss, but it also gives your metabolism a boost, helping you to burn more calories. Research shows that short-term starvation leads to an increase in plasma norepinephrine, a hormone that plays a role in breaking down body fat and using it for energy. So, not only are you eating fewer calories, but your body burns calories more efficiently. That’s a win-win for weight loss.
A Fast Provides Amazing Fat Burning PowerBeyond just dropping pounds, intermittent fasting can help you burn fat and build muscle mass. This is because during long periods of fasting, insulin levels drop, which promotes fat burning.
Additionally, during a fast, levels of human growth hormone increase, another hormone that contributes to burning fat.
Intermittent fasting can also help bring the body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a state in which the body burns fat for energy rather than glucose, therefore reducing body fat. The ketogenic diet, a high fat, low carbohydrate way of eating, is very popular, especially among athletes. The body goes into a state of ketosis in the absence of food, which the ketogenic diet mimics by limiting carbohydrate intake.
Intermittent fasting does not automatically induce ketosis. If you eat a high carb diet and practice intermittent fasting, you are not likely to enter ketosis. But, if you eat a relatively low-carbohydrate, whole-foods diet such as the nootropic diet while simultaneously practicing intermittent fasting, you will likely see some changes in your body fat composition.
Weight Maintenance By FastingOne problem with many diets is that once you are “done” with the diet, whatever weight you lost comes back on- oftentimes even more weight than was initially lost. When a diet strictly dictates what someone should eat, their body immediately wants to put weight back on when they begin eating foods that were not part of the diet plan, and likely higher in calories or fat than their diet-approved foods.
Intermittent fasting may be key to preventing this weight gain in the long run. One of the reasons may be because intermittent fasting is a way of eating rather than a diet that tells people to eat certain things. There is no “end” to intermittent fasting when someone reaches their goal weight. It is a practice you adopt in order to live a healthier lifestyle.
Even among healthy diets, intermittent fasting comes out on top. A study compared a high-protein, intermittent fasting diet plan with a general heart healthy diet to see the difference in how the two diets affect weight loss maintenance in obese individuals. They found that while both diets helped people lose a similar amount of weight initially, the group following an intermittent fasting diet did a better job of maintaining their weight loss after one year. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, or just maintain your already healthy weight, intermittent fasting is the way to go.
Lower Cholesterol With Intermittent FastingMaintaining a healthy weight is important to look and feel your best, but there is more to being healthy than how much you weight. Below the surface, things like cellular health and cholesterol levels play a huge role in your health. As previously mentioned, intermittent fasting can help improve cellular health. It also can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.
Research shows that short-term fasting can reduce LDL cholesterol, sometimes referred to as “bad” cholesterol. It also reduced blood pressure and triglycerides in addition to helping people lose weight- all key things for lowering the risk of heart disease.
Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer, so any diet that can reduce your risk of developing the condition is a good decision.
Fasting Reduces InflammationEven in its mildest forms, inflammation is unpleasant. At best, it only causes symptoms like pain, swelling, and redness. At its worst, inflammation presents itself in autoimmune diseases or conditions like arthritis. Eventually, inflammation can lead to a wearing down of bone cartilage.
The good news is that intermittent fasting can help prevent inflammation, and thus protect against a multitude of associated conditions. Studies show that intermittent fasting has a positive effect on inflammatory status of the body. This means you will feel better on a daily basis, and protect your health in the long run.
Improved Sleep From Intermittent Fasting
Sleep is essential for health. Inadequate sleep is associated with a variety of both physical and mental health problems, including weight gain and lack of focus. Although everyone knows that you need a solid number of hours of sleep every night to feel your best, very few people meet the recommendation of 8 hours of sleep per night.
Intermittent fasting can help you get on track with your sleep if you struggle to get enough hours of shut-eye at night. This is because of its impact on circadian rhythm, our internal clock that regulates feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. It is believed that fasting can help people get more aligned with their natural circadian rhythm; some people go so far as to hypothesize that intermittent fasting can serve as a complete circadian reset.
The benefits to sleep could also be related to digestion and metabolism. Sticking to an intermittent fasting window most likely means you will not be snacking close to your bedtime. This means all of your food has been digested, and your body is more prepared to wind down. If you do need to eat late at night, reach for snacks high in vitamin B6 and magnesium, which promote relaxation and rest.
Intermittent Fasting Improves Longevity
It is known that calorie restriction has health benefits. It keeps cells healthy, which prevents the development of chronic diseases and other age-related symptoms. Studies show that intermittent fasting may have a similar impact on lifespan and longevity. In one animal study, rats who underwent short-term fasting lived a whopping 83% longer than the non-fasting group. It is always good to exercise a bit of caution when applying results from animal studies to humans, but given the numerous other health benefits of intermittent fasting and what we know about the healthy effects of calorie restriction, it is safe to say that intermittent fasting is a positive choice to make for your health.
Intermittent fasting is a great way to improve your health without having to go to great lengths or drastically alter your lifestyle. Timing your eating window correctly is important, but what you actually put in to your body is also extremely important for weight loss and overall health. Following a nootropic diet and taking a nootropic supplement can enhance the benefits of intermittent fasting. Start your morning with Momental MIND, an energizing nootropic supplement, to boost the benefits of your intermittent fasting and feel even better throughout the day.
Intermittent Fasting is a Form of Mindfulness PracticeWhat Is Mindfulness? A Proactive Approach to Healthy Aging and Longevity
What Superfoods should you eat after your fast?
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