Weight loss has crept to the very top of many people’s to-do lists as a consequence of becoming more cautious of their weight and body shape. Rapid weight gain can be attributed to the consumption of processed foods as well as increased desk-bound lifestyles.
Some of the strategies used to facilitate weight loss include: the consumption of a high-protein breakfast, avoidance of sugary foods, drinking water thirty minutes before meals, lifting weights, eating whole and unprocessed foods, eating soluble fiber, drinking coffee, eating food slowly, using small plates to serve food, consuming weight loss-friendly foods, and having a good night’s sleep every day. People use a combination of these methods to facilitate weight loss. Sticking to a given regimen always pays off.
Fasting for health
Recently a non-conventional method of weight loss has gained prominence and people refer to it as intermittent fasting. Fasting has always been associated with religious and cultural practices but observing the timeless practice so as to lose weight is new to many people. According to research, fasting leads to weight loss and this article will tell you how. Apart from weight loss, other health benefits of fasting include but not limited to:
- On cardiovascular system and brain in rodents
- Increased immunity
- Increased hepatic function
- Relief of joint pains
- Increased brain function
- Improved mood
- A reduction of allergic symptoms
- Improvement of digestive function
- Reduced craving of nicotine, food, and alcohol
In considering to employ fasting as a strategy to lose weight and improve brain activity, you do not just fly in blind; you need a solid plan. The most suitable way to begin fasting is to give your body 12 hours between breakfast and dinner every day. The essence of this is to allow for 4 hours of digestion and give the liver 8 hours to complete the detoxification cycle.
Additionally, before you kick off intermittent fasting, you need to start eliminating sugars and grains from your diet as much as possible. This helps to create a better blood sugar control and proper regulation of insulin and cortisol hormones. You also need to make sure that your diet revolves around healthy fats, fiber, clean protein, and antioxidants. You are also advised to take at least 7 days to stabilize blood sugar hormones and stress hormones before you commence intermittent fasting.
After this, you can now employ the intermittent fasting strategy. The 5 types of fasting you could opt for include:
- Simple fast
This involves fasting for 12 hours in a week.
- Cycle fast
Here, you fast for 16 hours, 3 times a week.
- Strong fast
In this type of fasting, you fast for 16 to 18 hours each day.
- Warrior fast
Here you increase the fasting hours. You do it 19 to 21 hours each day.
- One day fast
Here, you do a full 24 hour fast every week.
Of course, going without food is not going to be easy but all it needs is discipline, and you will be surprised at how you can do a 16 to 18 hour fasting each day.
Although fasting does not typically pose many health hazards the following populations should be exempted from such lifestyle/ intermittent fasts; geriatrics, expectant mothers, people with chronic illnesses, and children.
However, you need to note that fasting for exceptionally longer periods poses health risks.
Risks associated with fasting
Fasting has its share of health risks. Yes, when you fast, you will lose weight. However, it can also lead to muscle loss which could result in challenges in mobility.
There is also a risk that when you fast, your body will try to conserve energy and as such calories will be burnt more slowly meaning that weight loss will occur very slowly. This slower burning of calories will also most likely lead to weight gain when the person resumes eating. You will not only regain weight lost during the fasting period but also add more weight on top of it.
How lifestyle fasting leads to weight loss
Physiologically, the body stores energy in the form fats. When we eat, the body breaks down the food consumed to produce the energy necessary to run essential body functions. When we fast, the body will instead reach out to the stored fat for energy. Fats will be broken down to yield energy.
During fasting, levels of the blood sugar hormone insulin decrease drastically. A fall in the levels of Insulin leads to the burning of fat which consequently leads to weight loss. Moreover, fasting leads to an increase in the level of the Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This hormone facilitates fat loss.
In food deprivation, the nervous system recruits norepinephrine also called noradrenaline into the fat cells so that it can speed up the burning of fats into fatty acids which are consequently burnt to produce energy. The bottom line is, the burning of fat leads to weight loss.
It is also imperative that we discuss the appetite hormones; leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is an appetite suppressing hormone while ghrelin stimulates appetite. During fasting, the levels of ghrelin will fall naturally after the first few days of the exercise. This means that once your body gets used to fasting, your hunger will automatically diminish.
How lifestyle fasting improves brain function
Fasting offers protective and therapeutic benefits to the body’s central organ, the brain.
Fasting has been documented to boost neuronal autophagy. Autophagy or self-eating is the mode by which neuronal cells recycle waste products, reduce wastefulness and repair themselves. Proper brain health is a function of neuronal autophagy. A defect in neuronal autophagy leads to neurodegeneration.
Fasting has been associated with an increase in the levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This protein interacts with brain neurons that regulate memory, cognitive functions, and learning. In addition to boosting the functions of existing neurons, it promotes neurogenesis and synapse development. Low levels of BDNF have been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and age-related cognitive defects.
Moreover, fasting increases the production of ketones and ketone bodies for example hydroxybutyrate have a neuroprotective function.
Intermittent Fasting also increases recovery rates in patients with stroke, brain trauma, and cervical spinal injury.
From this article, you can say that intermittent fasting can boost brain function as well as lead to weight loss. All it requires is adherence to a strict regimen and appreciation of the associated risks.
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- How Fasting Boosts Weight Loss and Improves Brain Function - March 13, 2017