9 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting may sound unappealing, but there are studies which show major benefits in taking part of this madness. Many of us will have tried a “fad” diet or two in our time, whether it be paleo, avoiding fats or living on blended/liquid foods. However, some believe that the answer to losing weight and even preventing disease lies in changing the when, and not so much how we eat.

There is evidence which suggests that by not spreading our meals out throughout the whole day, we could be much healthier. Everyone fasts, but it’s just a process that we call sleeping. This diet pattern is therefore about extending this fasting period.

You can eat all of your daily calories during a specific time frame (12-6pm) and fast for the rest of the day, working out just before you break it. Generally the fasting period is around 14 (for women) to 16 (men) hours per day but there are other types of intermittent fasting, such as eating nothing for 24 hours once or twice a week. In the fasting period, you should consume very little to no calories. However, coffee is allowed.

diet fasting

You can easily find different strategies and tips online for fasting and what would best suit you. The most popular type is fitting your meals in a small time window every day, then doing the 14-16 hour fast.

Now that you have an idea of what intermittent fasting is, how do you decide if it’s for you? Below are a list of benefits of this unconventional method so you can decide whether it is worth the effort of drastically changing your routine:


  • Live a longer life

One of the most interesting applications of fasting is its ability to make us live longer.

There is some science behind the idea that restricting calories could actually extend our life span. The theory behind this is that when you’re body goes into starvation, it searches for ways to stay alive.

A study found that rats who fasted every other day lived 83% longer compared to those which didn’t. It can be argued that this can not be related to humans, but there is usually a correlation between animal and human studies.


  • Weight and fat loss

People who try intermittent fasting tend to do it because it can be a powerful tool in losing weight. It helps our bodies switch from burning carbs and sugar to burning fat instead.

Not only that, but it also increases our metabolic rate significantly; A study found that our metabolism can increase by up to 14% during short term fasting.

This technique mixed with High Intensity Interval Training can reap massive results. Be careful to allow for sufficient calorie intake within the time period of being able to eat though to minimize muscle loss. Read about the benefits of jumping rope here and how to incorporate it into your regime which can reap extraordinary results.

losing weight

Think it will stay hard? Well science is on your side. When you get used to IF, you will stop getting as hungry because there’s a hormone called ghrelin. This is what controls hunger and it’s production is dependant on when you eat (it’s production induces hunger, leading to eating, which in turn produces more ghrelin, leading to an annoying cycle of hunger).

The secretion of ghrelin is dependent upon your eating schedule, meaning that if you don’t eat for a period of time each day, your body will secrete less ghrelin at these times over a period of time. Although it is hard in the beginning, push through the hunger and you will adapt to the new eating patterns pretty quickly.


  • A simple day

Whether you eat to live or live to eat, the amount of time we spend eating does add up and can distract us from more important things sometimes. Fasting removes this problem, as you know that you wont be eating for that certain period, freeing your focus for other aspects of your life. You can see this as giving yourself a break from eating, rather than seeing this as an act of deprivation.


  • Reduce the risk of cancer

The incidence of fasting reducing the risk of cancer in humans is largely unproven. However, this promising study shows that fasting can halt cancer cell growth in mice.

Fasting can also increase your survival rate by helping you tolerate chemotherapy during cancer treatment.


  • Fighting heart disease

Amazingly, fasting can help reduce the risk of getting heart disease, a killer chronic illness. study found that blood pressure, LDL and total cholesterol were all reduced after fasting.


  • Changes in gene and hormone function

IF has shown to enhance growth hormone in men which helps with metabolism, muscle growth, bone growth and regulating body composition; allowing you to grow muscle and lose weight at the same time.


  • Detoxification

Any sort of fasting has seen great results in terms of detoxing; it induces neuronal autophagy – a homoeostatic process in which our cells recycle themselves. This benefit has been preached by cultures all over the world for many years.

woman hungry from fasting

  • Lower your risk of diabetes

Fasting can increase our responsiveness to insulin, which can control blood sugar levels. This can help to lower those cravings and keep hunger in check. This also means that we are more protected from type-2 diabetes, which has become more common recently due to obesity.

This is most common in men, with studies showing a 3-6% reduction in blood sugar levels.


  • Mental capacity

Fasting may help increase the production of neural cells in our brain. The process of neurogenesis is responsive to brain injury, and both physical and mental activity.

It can also prevent the onset and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, shown to be the case in 90% of patients. This may be because it Alzheimer’s a neuro-degenerative disease and fasting can aid cell growth and repair.

Cutting out meals can help to increase the production of the hormone BDNF which is found in the brain, and its deficiency is linked to depression and other illnesses.


If you’re doing this to increase abdominal muscle definition, read our article on how to get six pack abs.

Cautionary note: Only commit to intermittent fasting if you think it’s something you can handle; if in doubt, seek medical advice before attempting it. Drink plenty of water and ask your doctor if you have any concerns regarding this method and if it can affect any of your existing conditions. If you do attempt it, do not rely on drinking too much coffee as when we are hungry, we can naturally crave caffeine. An excess caffeine consumption can be unhealthy and knock your adrenal glands off balance.