Intermittent Fasting Isn't Only For Losing Weight—It Could Slow Down Aging, Too

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You may have heard about intermittent fasting—eating for a limited number of hours per day and fasting for the rest—as a diet trend, but according to the latest research, it could actually slow the signs of aging, too, the author of Eat to Beat Disease, Dr. Will Li, tells us. 

Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself

Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself


"Fasting diets have become popular as a way to lose weight but it's not new," Dr. Li explains. "Fasting is an ancient practice used by many religions for thousands of years. The amazing thing is the benefits of fasting are based on real science." 

When it comes down to it, he explains, it's really all about the impact fasting has on the metabolism. "I've been doing research on fasting for about a decade and my research is about breaking new ground in metabolism, which is the next big frontier and what my new book, Eat to Beat Your Diet, is going to be about."   

What Is Intermittent Fasting?  

"Intermittent means every now and then. People who practice intermittent fasting for weight loss do 16 hours not eating and 8 hours eating, so you fit all of your eating within an 8-hour window each day," Dr. Li says.  

And, as Dr. Li said, it's really all about the metabolism. "Your metabolism doesn't allow you to lose weight while you're eating. So, you have to stop eating to allow it to work.  While you are fasting, your insulin levels drop. When insulin levels are down, your body can burn fat and your metabolism changes in a way that can help you lose weight." This explains why intermittent fasting can be such a successful technique for weight loss, but Dr. Li explains that weight loss isn't the only benefit to fasting.  

Intermittent Fasting Benefits Beyond Weight Loss 

It slows down aging. "Each of us has a fuse on our cells called a telomere. This fuse gets shorter as we get older—our skin wrinkles, our muscles get weak, and our memory starts to go. You actually see that aging in skin through wrinkles. Studies have shown in the lab that fasting slows down the aging of cells," explains Dr. Li.  

"New research has even found that fasting triggers a molecule that can delay the aging of our arteries, so it helps with blood vessel aging and the circulation system. The findings could help prevent age-related chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s," he says. 

And one of the most important things, Dr. Li explains, is that you can do it at your own pace.  

"People tend to think of intermittent fasting as all or nothing. Meaning you're sticking to the 16/8 method seven days a week, but you don't need to be so hardcore and you don’t need to do it every day. Just five to six days a week makes a huge impact," says Dr. Li.  

And there's new research to reflect that. "A new study from the University of Alabama Birmingham looked at weight loss and fasting. It tested two groups of women, one who did the traditional 16/8 method and the other who fasted for 12 hours/12 eating, and 12/12 is already what most people do, so that's not a huge reach for people. The study showed that by fasting for even 12 hours, participants would lose nine pounds, and those who fasted for 16 lost 15 pounds and dropped four points of blood pressure. Those people only had to do this 6 days a week.  So, even small changes can have big results when it comes to fasting," Dr. Li explains.  

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