You’ve probably read about how skipping meals actually leads to weight gain rather than weight loss, as your body starts to hang on to its fat reserves for fear of missing out on being fed again. But actually, fasting done in a controlled and balanced way can be beneficial to both your diet goals, and your health.
Fasting is a tradition that originates in religion and dates back many years, but you’ll now found it woven into many different diet and meal plans. Fasting can vary in length and style but is typically performed over a 24-72 hour period, unless you are intermittent fasting (this means to alternate between fasting and eating, normally for a few hours at a time).
First of all, it does actually help with weight loss. Refraining from consuming any food for a period of time will limit your over all calorie take, which directly correlates to weight loss. Not only that but it could also boost metabolism by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, which can further enhance weight loss when paired with exercise. Studies have also shown that fasting can increase your natural levels of human growth hormone (HGH), a protein that is involved in weight loss, metabolism, growth and muscle strength.
It’s not just about weight loss though. Fasting promotes blood sugar control by reducing your insulin resistance, helping to prevent blood sugar spikes and the unavoidable slumps. It can also help to reduce inflammation, improve your blood pressure and keep your cholesterol at a healthy level.
Not only can fasting help with your physical health, but it can also be good for your mind too. It’s been shown to have a powerful effect on brain health and also increases the generation of nerve cells to help enhance cognitive function. Fasting can also to help to protect against degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and generally slow down the whole ageing process.
So although it may go against the myths you’ve heard, fasting does have scientifically proven health benefits and is worth considering weaving into an otherwise healthy and balanced diet.