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Intermittent fasting can be good for weight-loss, but some doctors claim that's all. Practitioners swear it helps become stronger and healthier.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

It's an umbrella term for several different kinds of fasting. Basically, it's cycling between periods of abstaining from food, and periods of eating normally. It's not about starving the body, even though many people think so when they hear the word fasting. It may sound scary and unhealthy, but as with everything else in life — intermittent fasting has positive sides and downsides.

Ever since 1930's, scientist have been researching how calorie reduction and skipping meals affects the human body. One study from 2014 conducted on animal models found that fasting improved sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and inflammation. Recently, researchers have found that decreasing caloric intake by 30 to 40 percent can extend life span of mice by third or more. Intermittent fasting obviously improves health and reduces the risk of illness in animals, but unfortunately, not much research has been done on humans.

Benefits Of Fasting For Weight-Loss

After you eat a meal, the body requires some time to digest it. You have to absorb all the food before digesting it. The process can last 3-6 hours, depending on the kind of food and metabolism. During the fed state, the body is not really able to dip into the fat stores and actively burn the stored fat. During this time, the insulin levels are also high. The fasted state — the post-absorptive state when the body is done with all the digesting — occurs 8 to 12 hours later. Twelve hours after the last meal, one can say that they're in the fasted state when the body actually starts burning off fat. Most of us are not getting there often, except when we go to bed and don't eat right away the next day. Around 12 hours after the last meal, the insulin levels are very low and this is when you can capitalize on burning the stored fat.

Animal studies have shown numerous benefits of fasting, but it has to be taken with a grain of salt until we get more detailed research on humans.

Downsides Of Fasting

Fasting is not suitable for everyone. Some people feel bad without food, especially children, those with eating disorders, seniors and anyone with overall bad health. If you are someone who shivers and shakes when you skip a meal, it's not for you. Some people actually need less food than others and it's easier for them to fast. It all depends from blood count, weight, metabolism, even mental condition. For fasts that last longer than 16-20 hours, make sure you have physician to check on you because you can damage your health. Some medical doctors even claim fasting is not good for anything except for losing weight.

Whatever you do, make sure you don't starve yourself for long periods, and listen to your body's needs. Intermittent fasting shouldn't feel extremely hard if done properly, and your body shouldn't burn muscles if you feed it every once in a while, but if you're hungry for long periods, the only thing that will happen is that you'll lose muscle mass and nobody wants that.
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