Fasting is the act of going without food for a period of time. People fast for a variety of reasons from trying to lose weight to religious rites. Almost everyone has experienced fasting at one time or another. Some medical exams require fasting as a way to cleanse the body before certain types of tests or scans are run. But are there any other reasons to fast? Well it may help you live longer and help you fight off disease if those are good enough reasons.
A report recently published in the journal Obesity, suggests that intermittent fasting may be more healthful than other dieting strategies, as ketones put less stress on cells than the byproducts of other dieting styles.
Stephen Anton, a researcher at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville believes that when fasting, the body begins a process he calls “flipping the metabolic switch.” “This switch,” explains Anton, “can happen after a certain period of time fasting. It’s a gradation in which your metabolism over time shifts to use higher and higher amounts of ketones for energy.”
Anton and his colleagues explain that the switch usually begins to take place after 8–12 hours of fasting, though in the case of individuals who practice intermittent fasting, the fasting strategies vary.
Anton and his team have studied the two most common types of intermittent fasting. One group were people who fast for a certain number of hours per day and the other group were those who fast on certain days.
Most of the studies reviewed by Anton and team revealed that, while participants did lose body fat, no significant amount of lean tissue — which includes organ tissue, muscular tissue, and bone tissue — was lost.
The conclusions reached by the team were that intermittent fasting could help to prolong the lifespan, improve the functioning of metabolic processes, protect cognitive function, enhance physical performance, reduce harmful instances of inflammation, and shield against cardiovascular diseases.