Fasting has been practiced for millennia, but only recently have scientists begun to understand its many benefits.
The practice of fasting has been around for thousands of years. Many religions incorporate periods of fasting into their practices and beliefs, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.
There are many different reasons why people choose to fast. Some may do so as part of a religious rite or ritual. Others may do it for spiritual growth or self-control. And still others might do it to lose weight or feel healthier overall.
In recent years, however, scientists have started paying attention to the possible health benefits of fasting — especially intermittent fasting (IF), which involves restricting food intake at certain times while eating normally at others.
There are a number of health benefits associated with fasting:
- Fasting can help you lose weight. If you’re overweight, fasting can help you shed excess pounds more rapidly than traditional diets that restrict calories. When you eat, your body converts any calories you consume into energy. Once it has used up its immediate energy stores, it taps into fat stores for fuel – a process called lipolysis. Fasting helps your body burn fat more quickly because it’s not receiving any new fuel. This process triggers the release of hormones that help break down fat cells so they can be used as fuel instead of storing them back up under your skin or around your organs.
- Fasting may help you lose weight because it lowers insulin levels, which reduces your body’s ability to absorb sugar and slows your metabolism. Lower insulin levels also cause an increase in glucagon, which is a hormone that helps release stored sugar into the bloodstream — a process we call glycogenolysis. This causes the liver to use more fat to create other chemicals that can be converted into energy and would otherwise be stored as fat in your body. Improved brain function .
- Fasting may improve cholesterol levels in some people who have high cholesterol but no diabetes. When you don’t eat for several hours, your body releases triglycerides (blood fats) into circulation so that they can be burned for energy.