The power of intermittent fasting

It is so easy and cheap to eat high-fat, high-sugar based foods. These foods are incredibly addictive. Well, in today’s society, many of our jobs are extremely stressful. A study done on rats showed that eating high-fat, high-sugar foods relaxes us when exposed to a stressful environment, in this case, the rats were confined to small cages. Those rats who were also exposed to the same stress environment but were fed a normal diet, had showed anxious behaviour; this was the opposite result to those fed on the high-fat/sugar diet.

“Are our futures doomed in becoming obese, unhealthy individuals?”

A rat feasting on some food. Image from Pixabay.

In evolutionary terms, it would be beneficial to seek foods high in fat and sugar for survival purposes. A stressful situation might have been famine, predators or disease. It would make logical sense to eat as much of this dense caloric food as possible to ensure your survival. However, these days we have such a range and abundance of foods at our fingertips that, yes eating high calorie foods will make you less stressful in the moment, but the long-term effects are extremely negative. This creates a vicious cycle, in that you get stressed, then you eat junk food, you gain weight therefore get stressed and continue to eat junk food. The cycle doesn’t end. So, eating foods rich in calories was once a good mechanism; now it appears it is a detrimental mechanism in some people’s cases. Are our futures doomed in becoming obese, unhealthy individuals? Or could intermittent fasting (IF) provide an alternative?

Image from Pixabay.

An article written by Monique Tello goes into explaining what happens when we eat. When we eat the food, let’s say carbohydrates, they get broken down into their simple sugars by enzymes. The glucose is then taken up by our cells with the help of the hormone called insulin, which is released from the pancreas. If our cells don’t use the glucose, then it gets stored in our fat cells. When you stop eating, the insulin levels will drop and the fat cells will release the energy. If our insulin levels go down and for long enough, our bodies will begin to burn fat. This is the principle behind IF. However, there has also been evidence to prove that early-time IF is most effective.

“Changing the time of day that you will eat can significantly improve your metabolism.”

Believe it or not, our circadian rhythm (day and night cycles) have helped our bodies follow a pattern of eating during the day and sleeping at night. A study conducted at the University of Alabama took a group of prediabetic men and divided them into two groups. One group had an eating window of 8 hours, where they ate between 7am-3pm. The other group had a 12 hour eating window, between 7am-7pm. What they found is that each group did not lose or gain weight but the cardiometabolic health of the 8 hour group improved. They had lower blood pressure, increase sensitivity to insulin, lower insulin levels and a decreased appetite. So by just changing the time of day that you will eat can significantly improve your metabolism.

In summary, eat earlier on, have a short eating window and cut out those toxic high-fat and high-sugar based foods. The smaller your eating window, the better this is for your health.

Citations

Monique Tello. 2018. Intermittent fasting: Surprising update. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156. [Accessed 5 March 2019].

Elizabeth F.Sutton, RobbieBeyl, Kate S.Early, William T.Cefalu, Eric Ravussin, Courtney M.Peterson. 2018. Cell Metabolism. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413118302535. [Accessed 5 March 2019].

Maniam J, Antoniadis CP, Le V, Morris MJ.. 2016. A diet high in fat and sugar reverses anxiety-like behaviour induced by limited nesting in male rats: Impacts on hippocampal markers.. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26999723. [Accessed 5 March 2019].

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