It can be difficult to imagine that there are any health benefits to fasting when you consider that fasting means not eating any solid food for an extended period of time. Many health enthusiasts would even agree that eating 5 to 6 small meals a day is the way to go to maintain a healthy metabolism and speed up fat loss. However, fasting may not be as bad as it sounds and may also provide some health benefits. Below I will outline some of the pros and cons to fasting as well as how it can be done.
The Dangers of Fasting for Weight Loss
Some people may view fasting as a quick solution to shedding excess weight. The problem with using fasting as the only method for weight loss is that initially you are only losing water weight.
Not only that, but long periods of fasting deprives your body of much needed nutrients which can lead to possible health issues.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a form of fasting which lasts for shorter periods of time. It can be done in various ways. Some people skip breakfast while others choose to skip lunch.
IF has the advantage over calorie restriction for weight loss as for many people, it's easier to handle the occassional feeling of hunger, compared to the regular feeling caused by calorie restriction. Fasting also clears out waste left by dead, damaged cells. This is known as autophagy. An over accumulation of cellular debris and a lack of autophagy is believed by many scientists to be a major cause of chronic diseases associated with aging.
Scientific studies have resulted in:
- Decrease in cancer risk
- Lower diabetes risk
- Improved cognitive function
- Protection against some effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases
IF isn't for everyone. Children under 18, diabetics, pregnant or lactating women should not practice intermittent fasting.
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