Chances are you will know someone at the gym doing it, heard it mentioned in conversation or seen it as a section on a forum. Intermittent fasting is both something some people swear by as the holy grail of dieting (for health and body composition), while others consider it illogical.
For the purpose of this discussion we are going to look at the potential health benefits of implementing such a method, the drawbacks of its structure and then come to an overall conclusion for the health and fitness conscious individual of our age on its suitability and effectiveness.
This will be broken down into a three-part series covering the pros in this article, the cons in part two and concluded in part three.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
The basic outline of an intermittent fasting approach without digging too much into specific time periods, is a diet structure based around substantial periods of time in which you refrain from eating, followed by short “feeding windows”.
Intermittent fasting – The Benefits
Welcome to team pro fasting! Here are the main benefits this diet style will bring both from a health perspective and for anyone who regularly takes part in some form of exercise, that’s anyone from a serious lifter in the gym to a 100m sprinter.
More efficient internal environment
Having an internal environment which is both in harmony and is as efficient as possible is a great asset. For the context of this discussion, it will help you meet the extra demands an active lifestyle puts on the body. This can be in several forms including;
- Reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation, lending to improved post workout recovery
- Overall metabolic enhancement, through it’s positive effects on insulin sensitivity and the hunger hormone ghrelin
- Improved Autophagy (body’s process of “self-cleaning” or waste removal)
Improved body composition and recovery
For anyone trying to lose weight, build muscle or recover from training, intermittent fasting can be used to support your goals by upregulating HGH production (Human Growth Hormone), here is how:
- Increased HGH improves fat oxidisation (allows the body to more easily tap into and use fat stores for energy)
- Increased HGH will improve recovery from resistance training/exercise. Therefore, if the right stimulus is provided you will be able to increase lean muscle mass
Intermittent fasting has been shown to provide benefits at both primary and secondary stages in terms of disease prevention and management. Three diseases in which it has shown positive results are;
- Risk of type 2 Diabetes
- Cancer prevention
- Alzheimer’s prevention
Which therefore can lead to both an increase in lifespan as well as an improvement of quality of life.
It can seem a big sacrifice to ‘fast’ day to day, when training is paramount and although the benefits discussed above outweigh the short term sacrifice. There are other aspects to consider when introducing Intermittent fasting into your lifestyle and training plan.