Fasting one day a week benefits you physically as well as mentally. It helps in weight loss, boosting your energy levels, and improving mental health just to name a few.
You may be thinking that this sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. The health benefits of fasting will make you feel better and lead to healthy changes in your life.
Depending on your capabilities and goals, you can choose from various intermittent fasting periods such as overnight fasting, 16/8, 5:2 diet, alternate day fasting, eat stop eat, whole day fasting, and fasting once a week.
There is some evidence1 to support the idea that fasting even once a week can provide some of the many health benefits seen with longer fasts.
How Fasting Works
Practicing a fast means forgoing food and timing your meals in a certain set schedule. The most common result by intermittent fasting is weight loss.
What intermittent fasting does is that it promotes fat burn in your body because it encourages the production of human growth hormone (HCG), which helps burn fat and also helps you burn lean muscle tissue.
Another outcome of intermittent fasting is a reduced insulin response which is additionally helpful in burning fat.
Having said that, there are added advantages aside from weight loss. Let’s get into more detail with the benefits of fasting once a week.
Fasting One Day A Week Benefits
1. Intermittent Fasting Can Lower Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can have major negative health effects, including heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis2, in contrast to acute inflammation, which is a natural immune response used to help fight off infections.
According to studies3, intermittent fasting, even with 24-hour fasts, can reduce chronic inflammation. Your risk of contracting multiple sclerosis and other chronic diseases is subsequently reduced as a result.
2. Intermittent Fasting Reduces Insulin Resistance to Promote Blood Sugar Control
Controlling your insulin levels is one of the keys to managing your weight. It has been frequently demonstrated that fasting benefits insulin sensitivity, which is your body’s capacity to handle carbohydrates more effectively.
The pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone that promotes fat storage. It permits your body to use blood glucose as fuel.
What happens is, after a meal, your blood sugar levels will spike. The pancreas will get a signal from this to release insulin. The insulin binds to your cells and enables the cells to take up sugar as fuel.
In one study, short-term intermittent fasting dramatically reduced blood sugar levels in 10 persons with type 2 diabetes4. Another review discovered that lowering insulin resistance with alternate-day fasting and intermittent fasting had similar effects to caloric restriction5.
Reducing insulin resistance could aid in lowering spikes and dips in your blood sugar levels and help keep them steady.
3. Intermittent Fasting Can Aid in Fat Loss
You put on weight by consuming more calories than you should each day. You can lose weight if you dramatically cut your calorie intake on one day of the week. This is known as generating a calorie deficit, leading to fat loss and increased weight loss over time.
According to some research, short-term fasting may increase metabolism by elevating norepinephrine levels, which may facilitate weight loss6.
Another review discovered that intermittent fasting for 3–12 weeks reduced body weight and fat mass by as much as 8% and 16%, respectively while being just as effective in causing weight loss as continuous calorie restriction7.
4. Intermittent Fasting Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
Numerous cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, have been related to hypertension or high blood pressure.
Increased insulin sensitivity and norepinephrine excretion in the kidneys, which causes your blood vessels to open and the pressure to release, are thought to be the causes of the drop in blood pressure.
Intermittent fasting can actually reduce blood pressure8.
According to some research, incorporating fasting into your routine may be very beneficial for heart health. One study found that eight weeks of alternate-day fasting decreased blood triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels by 25% and 32%9.
5. Intermittent Fasting Can Boost Brain Health
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is a protein whose production is increased by fasting.
A protein called BDNF promotes the growth of neurons that are good for the health of your brain. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that this potent protein can reduce Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease symptoms10,11.
More research is nonetheless required to assess the impact of fasting on human brain function.
6. Intermittent Fasting Can Get Your Hormones Under Control
It’s possible that your hunger hormones and energy balance are restored when you fast one day a week. The food you eat significantly impacts the hormones leptin, which alerts you when you are full, and ghrelin, which controls hunger.
On the other hand, ghrelin levels are frequently lower. Overconsumption and bad dietary decisions may result from this.
According to a study12, fasting for 24 hours favors the hormones ghrelin and leptin without affecting hunger levels. So, even when you are fasting, your hunger levels can be low, and you can still feel full.
As previously mentioned, another hormone that affects growth, weight loss, metabolism, and muscle strength is the human growth hormone (HGH)13,14. This hormone is essential to adults because a HGH deficiency may lead to higher levels of body fat, lower lean body mass, and decreased bone mass.
Since HGH levels decrease with age, you may be able to enhance your growth hormones when you adopt an intermittent fasting lifestyle.
7. Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Live Longer Period
The process of autophagy can be triggered by fasting for 12 hours or longer. You regularly go through the process of autophagy as you get older in order to replenish and repair15.
Your insulin levels drop when you fast, which significantly speeds up the autophagy process. Autophagy is a cell-cleaning process and the process is known to slow aging by cleaning up and recycling damaged components of the cell.
In one experiment, rats that fasted every other day aged more slowly and lived 83% longer than those that didn’t16,17.
Further studies have yet to test this long term with humans but current findings seem to be promising.
While there isn’t any restrictive rule to eating certain foods in an intermittent fasting lifestyle, you need to get enough protein and healthy fats to keep your body strong and prevent future hunger pangs.
Though there are multiple health benefits of fasting, this is still not for everyone. Intermittent fasting is not advised for expecting women or nursing persons with low blood pressure or those battling eating disorders.
Always seek medical advice from your doctor before you start any fasting periods.
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2 Hunter P. The inflammation theory of disease. The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment. EMBO Rep. 2012 Nov 6;13(11):968-70. doi: 10.1038/embor.2012.142. Epub 2012 Oct 9. PMID: 23044824; PMCID: PMC3492709.
3 Faris MA, Kacimi S, Al-Kurd RA, Fararjeh MA, Bustanji YK, Mohammad MK, Salem ML. Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects. Nutr Res. 2012 Dec;32(12):947-55. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.06.021. Epub 2012 Oct 4. PMID: 23244540.
4 Arnason TG, Bowen MW, Mansell KD. Effects of intermittent fasting on health markers in those with type 2 diabetes: A pilot study. World J Diabetes. 2017 Apr 15;8(4):154-164. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v8.i4.154. PMID: 28465792; PMCID: PMC5394735.
5 Barnosky AR, Hoddy KK, Unterman TG, Varady KA. Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Transl Res. 2014 Oct;164(4):302-11. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013. Epub 2014 Jun 12. PMID: 24993615.
6 Zauner C, Schneeweiss B, Kranz A, Madl C, Ratheiser K, Kramer L, Roth E, Schneider B, Lenz K. Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1511-5. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/71.6.1511. PMID: 10837292.
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