Ever wonder if fasting benefits skin? Over the years fasting, particularly intermittent fasting (IF), has become a popular form of diet and getting into a positive healthier lifestyle. There are different methods to do it depending on which is best suited to each person but the practice is the same, switching from eating and fasting during a particular time period.
Why Do Intermittent Fasting?
Unlike traditional diets, intermittent fasting is relatively easier to do. Most diets follow strict guidelines about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. An intermittent fasting diet does not have these limitations which, combined with the results it could give, make it more appealing to some people. Here’s why:
Intermittent fasting mainly requires you to restrict food consumption and adjust to your eating time. There are no strict rules and regulations or even the need to compute for calories. During your eating period, you eat as you normally do without overeating and keep track of the time when you need to fast again. So it’s less effort, not time-consuming, and it’s easy to remember which makes it ideal for busy people who want to go on a diet.
While other diets come with meal plans and food lists, intermittent fasting actually lets you eat food. Other diets sometimes focus on certain food groups and this can be a downside for a lot of people. Intermittent fasting allows you a wide range of foods to be eaten and a person can still be able to eat the foods that they enjoy provided that they limit overdoing it.
One of the reasons most diets fail is that it’s sometimes tough to incorporate into one’s lifestyle. The convenience intermittent fasting provides is that you get to both decide what to eat and when to eat; giving you the control and option that would be suitable for you.
What makes intermittent fasting even greater for a lot of people is that not only is it not as complicated as other diets but it also reaps a lot of benefits other than the usual loss of weight.
Significant studies have shown that intermittent fasting can do more than just burn fat. It may also help modify certain risk factors for health conditions.
Advantages include body composition changes, lipid and glucose metabolism improvements, and enhanced cellular survival. Some of the other benefits could include a leaner body, longer life, and a sharper mind.
Thus far, though yet to be proven long-term, intermittent fasting has continued to show favorable outcomes. As more and more people continue to partake in intermittent fasting, it is more important to remember that it is not purely just about not eating and then eating whatever you want during the non-fasting periods. The benefits that intermittent fasting could offer would be lost if there is no healthy food relationship.
Any diet’s goal is usually weight reduction, and while IF is restricting food at a certain time, you shouldn’t not be eating enough calories each day to meet basic needs. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, a decrease in your immune system, or create more problems in your body.
Wondering If Fasting Benefits Skin?
Numerous results have shown benefits when fasting is done the right way. Maintaining proper nutrition and diet plan during intermittent fasting would result in successful weight loss and better immunity. One less commonly known physical result is that fasting benefits the skin. Although there is yet to have more study on this subject, we are aware that what we eat can affect our skin health too.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that intermittent fasting and skin may be connected. Skin conditions come from several causes such as genetics, hormones, lifestyle, and stress and there is no definitive treatment as some of these are totally out of our hands. While we may not know the exact cause of all of our skin problems, we know that what we consume affects our body and that we can control what and how we eat.
Weight Loss and Skin Benefits
The most common reason for getting into intermittent fasting is weight loss but there may be more to the benefit as it has a potential impact on many systems in the body. Some of these effects of fasting, and even from weight loss, may reduce skin concerns and improve overall skin health.
1. Lowers Insulin
As a result of abstinence, other than body weight changes, insulin production drops which makes the human body burn stored energy, and when all the stored energy runs out it begins burning stored fat. Making you not only lose some body weight but also lower your insulin levels.
High levels of insulin are not good for those people with acne as insulin makes certain hormones more active. This then contributes to the development of acne by making skin cells grow faster and boosting sebum production affecting your skin health.
2. Helps with Inflammation
More insulin could also trigger more inflammation. While inflammation is our body’s immune system response to protecting us, too much of it can be a bad thing for your skin health. Another great advantage of fasting is reduced inflammation.
Inflammation can be associated as one significant cause of acne and can sometimes make it worse. Those that do intermittent fasting can help in reducing it.
3. Skin Conditions & Skin Diseases
Calorie restriction has been known to improve inflammation and intermittent fasting usually involves mild calorie intake. One particular skin condition that may be triggered by inflammation, which can benefit from intermittent fasting is psoriasis.
Although research is limited, skin conditions such as psoriasis might be manageable as there have been observations where those who did intermittent fasting experienced less Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI), which is an instrument used to measure psoriasis severity.
4. Youthful Skin Benefits
Another skin health benefit of fasting for people who have aging skin is it is linked to anti-aging and boosting collagen. Intermittent fasting could also lower your blood sugar and when your blood sugar is high, it can cause collagen damage.
This is because excess sugar causes glycation and even though collagen needs sugar, glycation causes the tissues to stiffen and cause the skin to age faster. Intermittent fasting regulates your blood sugar levels and promotes the correct production of collagen helping aging skin or maintaining youthful skin.
One study even showed that fasting has an “important impact” on skin health1.
5. Reduces Stress
Stress can come from different factors and there are many ways to manage it. With intermittent fasting, it may also help you reduce it.
During fasting, your caloric intake is lessened, and because your body is not producing as much to keep pace with the constant digestion, the cells receive less oxidative stress. When you are able to manage your intake, hormones will also be more organized. When your body manages stress, there are fewer chances on experiencing stress-induced breakouts or rashes.
6. Better Sleep
Lack of sleep can also be detrimental to skin problems which may lead to low cortisol levels, a hormone that is associated with stress. When you are sleep deprived it can be linked to insulin resistance, inflammation, and issues in the digestive system. All these can factor in triggering acne. In a lot of ways, proper routine fasting helps the body stay well aligned for sleep.
When you eat during the evenings, the body engages in active digestion, which often creates problems for sleep. There have been studies2 showing that when you restrict eating to 8- or 12-hour windows, it may help maintain healthy body weight and avoid high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and even diabetes.
7. Healthier Gut
With the right food plan and right practice, gut health improves. We are all aware that when something is wrong in your gut it shows in your outer appearance and on your skin. As fasting improves metabolic function, a healthy gut can properly absorb the nutrients from the food you intake and appropriately circulate that throughout your body for your skin and other organs.
Other Benefits of Fasting
Even though intermittent fasting often results in reduced calorie consumption, weight loss is not only the main driver of the health benefits as observed in studies. Other benefits can also include:
- Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes – since it can help with weight loss, it can potentially influence other factors linked to an increased risk of diabetes and so may also have benefits for diabetes prevention.
- Brain Health – studies done on animals have found that intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of neurological disorders3, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. Further research is necessary to investigate whether these findings can be applied to humans.
- Improves Heart Health – there has been a review stating that intermittent fasting could lead to a reduction in blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol4.
- Reduces Risk of Cancer – a study has shown that intermittent fasting boosts the immune system to fight cancer5. Fasting activates stem cells of the immune system to renew and repair themselves. In this study, it shows that fasting not only reduces damage to cells, it also replenishes white blood cells and replaces damaged ones.
Tips to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
The beauty of intermittent fasting is that you can choose the time you want to fast thus making it flexible in fitting into your daily routine. While others can easily get right into it, some may need to take some time adjusting especially if you’re used to eating every time you go hungry.
Fasting works differently from person to person and there can be numerous ways to begin. A lot of people also share their experiences with fasting and it can be a great way to know how best to start doing so.
To help you in your journey, here are some tips to start:
Keep it simple
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with questions on what to do and what not to do when you start on a diet. Remember that intermittent fasting is already simple as there aren’t many restrictions to follow. You are in charge and it’s generally easy to start and do so by picking your eating window and then structuring it around to fit your schedule.
Two of the popular schedules consist of eating for eight hours a day and then fasting for 16 hours. This is otherwise known as 16:8.
The other is for people who enjoy longer fasting. An example is the one meal a day. From that sentence alone, you’ll know that this is where you eat only one meal a day and get all your calories and nutrition from that one meal.
Start slow and safe
You’re not expected to fully adopt intermittent fasting habits right away. If you’re new to fasting, gradually work your way through. Start with shorter fasts and then build up to the full fasting hours when your body has adjusted. It’s normal to feel hungry or even irritable, but you shouldn’t feel unwell when you fast. We want to practice a safe and healthy way to fast and forcing it can affect your health.
Choose what’s best for you
If your goal is to lose weight it is recommended to restrict the number of carbohydrates and sugars that you intake. You can make this as easy as possible for you by planning your meal and in that way, you’ll be able to resist being tempted by what’s around you.
If the goal is for health, consider avoiding processed or packaged foods. For intermittent fasting to work, it isn’t just about not eating but it’s all about having a balance of proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables.
In general, choose the best way to meet your fasting goal when it comes to the food you take. Try to eliminate being impulsive and overeating when you do break your fast. A good tip is to chew well and eat slowly as this allows your digestive system to fully process the food. This can also help you have a better idea of your fullness and avoid overeating.
During your fast, your body is already undergoing changes and it’s best to stay hydrated as much as possible. There have been studies that have proven being well hydrated can contribute to eating fewer calories throughout the day. This can also help with the possible fatigue, dry mouth, and headaches that you may experience when fasting. Drinking a lot of water is also one way to avoid cravings. Try to aim to drink at least 2 liters of water per day.
Have some tea or coffee
To make fasting less difficult and help you maintain it, you can drink coffee or tea. Make the coffee black and without any of the sweeteners on both of course!
Anything that is calorie-free is actually allowed during the fast. Just no solid foods or calorie-containing drinks are permitted.
Being consistent with intermittent fasting and even just trying to get the hang of it can be tough. Especially when there are a lot of distractions. A lot of us tend to snack when we get bored and it can be a difficult habit to get rid of. Sometimes temptation happens because there is nothing to keep your mind off of especially when you’re hungry.
When you find yourself tempted or wanting to give up, try to stay busy or do distractions that can be beneficial to you. Get a hobby or better yet, even start exercising. A walk is a good place to start. Moving is an added advantage to keeping yourself busy and with a workout, you’re even more staying focused on your goal.
The amount and rate of people who achieve their goals with intermittent fasting will depend on various factors, including their eating habits and current weight. There is no set week or month to know when you see these changes. It’s best to not overdo or rush the process. Be realistic with yourself and give yourself time.
Intermittent Fasting Considerations
While just about anyone can do intermittent fasting, it is not for everyone. People with the following conditions need to have themselves evaluated or checked before even deciding to fast:
- Blood sugar regulation problems
- Children and teens under age 18
- History of amenorrhea
- History of eating disorders
- Low blood pressure
- People on medication
- Women who are breastfeeding
- Women trying to conceive
The benefits of intermittent fasting may expand beyond losing weight and could potentially lead to more benefits for our skin. But while ongoing research on this topic is promising, there is more research needed to further understand what and how it can support our overall skin health. For now, we can be sure that intermittent fasting is one way to get started on a better lifestyle and will aid in weight management contributing to a healthy gut, which in turn makes a healthier you.
However, there are instances where it isn’t for everyone. If intermittent fasting is something you would consider doing, it is always best to consult a trusted medical professional. When you do start, do it slow and take time to adjust. Listen and observe your body and see if intermittent fasting is working for or against you. Don’t forget to try to have fun and experiment with different methods of intermittent fasting to see which one you like best.
1. Bragazzi NL, Sellami M, Salem I, Conic R, Kimak M, Pigatto PDM, Damiani G. Fasting and Its Impact on Skin Anatomy, Physiology, and Physiopathology: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature. Nutrients. 2019 Jan 23;11(2):249. doi: 10.3390/nu11020249. PMID: 30678053; PMCID: PMC6413166.
2. Sutton EF, Beyl R, Early KS, Cefalu WT, Ravussin E, Peterson CM. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes. Cell Metab. 2018 Jun 5;27(6):1212-1221.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.010. Epub 2018 May 10. PMID: 29754952; PMCID: PMC5990470.
4. Malinowski B, Zalewska K, Węsierska A, Sokołowska MM, Socha M, Liczner G, Pawlak-Osińska K, Wiciński M. Intermittent Fasting in Cardiovascular Disorders-An Overview. Nutrients. 2019 Mar 20;11(3):673. doi: 10.3390/nu11030673. PMID: 30897855; PMCID: PMC6471315.
5. Cheng CW, Adams GB, Perin L, Wei M, Zhou X, Lam BS, Da Sacco S, Mirisola M, Quinn DI, Dorff TB, Kopchick JJ, Longo VD. Prolonged fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic-stem-cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression. Cell Stem Cell. 2014 Jun 5;14(6):810-23. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.04.014. Erratum in: Cell Stem Cell. 2016 Feb 4;18(2):291-2. PMID: 24905167; PMCID: PMC4102383.