Over ten years ago I noticed that my performance was worsening, and my body was not recovering from injuries as easily as in my younger days. Additionally, I started getting illnesses, and problems that “older people get” which prompted me to make a change.
Being a science geek (my degree is in biology), I started researching and educating myself on methods to enhance recovery, increase longevity and optimal health. One of the strategies I learned about for maintaining performance, health and fitness is intermittent fasting, so I started fasting and here’s all the proof I needed that it was working:
After about eight months of intermittent fasting, I went to the doctor for my annual physical. When I was called back for my results, the doctor commented that my lab numbers were better than most 20 year old's (I’m in my mid-fifties now), and he asked what I was doing. I told him a healthy diet and exercise. Looking puzzled, he asked if there was anything else I was doing, so I told about my fasting regiment. With that he nodded and smiled. Obviously my results could be construed as anecdotal evidence, but I’ll take it!
Here are some proven benefits of intermittent fasting:
Fasting changes the function of cells, genes and hormones - Your cells also perform important cellular repair processes, and change which genes they express. An increase in cellular repair also means you recover you recover faster from physical training.
When you fast, your insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases (you can grow more muscle).
It helps you lose weight and belly fat - (helps you eat fewer calories, while boosting your metabolism).
Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, and lowers blood sugar levels, lowering your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
It can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body which provide benefits against aging and the development of numerous diseases.
It is beneficial for heart health - by improving numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers.
It induces various cellular repair processes and triggers a metabolic pathway called autophagy, which removes waste material from cells.
It may help prevent cancer and has been shown to reduce side effects caused by chemotherapy.
Intermittent fasting is good for your brain - it can increase the growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage, and may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
It can extend your lifespan, helping you live longer. Intermittent fasting has become very popular among the anti-aging crowd because it works.
Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life. Fasting has tons of physiological benefits, it truly is the fountain of youth! If you want to increase your performance, recovery, and strengthen your immune system, give fasting a try.
A few types of fasting include:
The 16/8 Method.
The 5:2 Diet.
Eat, Stop, Eat.
Alternate Day Fasting.
And many more.
Personally, I follow the 16/8 protocol (eat in an eight hour window, and fast for sixteen hours), and do one 24 hour fast per month. That’s what works for me.
Disclaimer: You should talk to your doctor before beginning any fasting program, especially if you have any medical conditions.
Below are some studies that has been done showing the benefits of intermittent fasting:
Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system: https://news.usc.edu/.../fasting-triggers-stem-cell.../
Fasting boosts stem cells’ regenerative capacity - age-related loss of stem cell function can be reversed by a 24-hour fast: http://news.mit.edu/.../fasting-boosts-stem-cells...
Prolonged Fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic stem cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4102383/
*Excerpts of my article include data from: “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting” Written by Kris Gunnars, BSc on August 16, 2016
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Author, The Short Fight