By John Salak –
Intermittent fasting is all the rage, thanks to celebrities like Jennifer Anniston, Margot Robbie, and Jennifer Lopez, among others, telling the world that they skip eating for extended periods. The aim, not surprisingly, is to shed pounds and keep them off.
It works. Several studies report that various types of intermittent fasting will reduce weight and waist size over four weeks and longer, Healthreporter.com notes.
The University of Georgia now suggests that fasting benefits go beyond slimmer bodies. Its research revealed that a specific type of restricted eating may reduce the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes and improve overall health. The fasting study involves having regular but fewer meals, cutting out late-night snacks and not eating for 12 to 14 hours.
“What we’ve been taught for many decades is that we should eat three meals a day plus snacking in between,” said Professor Krzysztof Czaja. “Unfortunately, this appears to be one of the causes of obesity.”
The problem is that three meals daily and snacks prevent insulin levels from dropping. The problem is compounded because Americans, on average, consume excessive calories and sugars, which the research team notes can overload the body’s insulin receptors. The combination leads to insulin resistance and often Type 2 diabetes.
“That’s why it’s so hard to lose body fat,” Czaja said. “We are not giving our bodies a chance to use it. Having fewer meals a day will allow these fat deposits to be used as an energy source rather than the sugar we keep consuming.”
The researchers found that time-restricted eating allows the body to relax and lower insulin and glucose levels. It, in turn, can improve insulin resistance, brain health and glycemic control.
The possibility that intermittent fasting might offset the chances of getting this disease is welcome news to the estimated 40 million Americans who already have diabetes and the almost 100 million people labeled as prediabetic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Fasting benefits for diabetes may also enhance the gut microbiome, staving off inflammation and sleep problems. Beyond this, the university’s work suggests that time-restricted eating can help regulate hormones responsible for appetite regulation and energy levels.
The team also reported that while there are potential benefits from time-restricted eating, extended fasting for days did not do much good.
The weight loss tied to intermittent fasting is likely to offer benefits. The approach can help trim more than 500 calories a day without practitioners having to count calories. This reduction can help tackle the obesity epidemic sweeping the country. The CDC reports that four out of 10 Americans are obese, with almost 10 percent registering as severely obese.
Obesity doesn’t just increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes; it can also result in heart disease and even some cancers.
“Obesity is an epidemic right now, especially in the United States,” Czaja said. “It is a preventable disease. When we started looking at the research, we found that ancient humans didn’t eat every day. That means our body evolved, not needing food every day.”
The researchers stressed that caloric needs vary by person, which affects how people should fast. Smaller, less active people will need fewer calories than taller athletes, which means one meal of nutrient-rich food might work for some, while others may need more. Fewer meals of high-quality food are essential for individuals at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
“Also, definitely avoid late-night eating,” Czaja said. “Our midnight snacks spike insulin, so instead of us going into a resting state when we sleep, our GI is working on digestion. That’s why we wake up in the morning tired—because we don’t get enough resting sleep.”