Fasting is the practice of abstaining from eating food or drinking liquids for a set period of time. As more research is done, things may change, and these articles will be updated frequently to reflect our current understanding of the science of fasting. By: David Stipp Source: Scientific American Apr 21, 2018 1 Comment, , , , Religions have long maintained that fasting is good for the soul, but its bodily benefits were not widely recognized until the early 1900s, when doctors began recommending it to treat various disorders. His research — in mice and people — appears to suggest that intermittent fasting could benefit human health in a variety of different ways, including losing weight. Panda and his colleagues are now conducting a study of time-restricted eating to 120 participants. Or, there’s alternate-day fasting, which means eating normally one day and then eating either nothing or just 500 calories the next. People have been fasting for centuries and the scientists of the 1800s and 1900s were interested in what happens to our bodies when we fast. The discovery that short bouts of intermittent fasting could prolong the life of mice and rats has reignited scientific interest. While both groups were given the exact same amount of food, one group had access to the food for 24 hours and the other group had access to it for only 8 hours. Before we dive into the science, let’s put one thing up front: There’s no one way to do intermittent fasting. But what makes intermittent fasting different from simply cutting calories is the possibility that it’s easier for people to restrict calories for limited stretches of time rather than for the days, weeks and months demanded by conventional diets. It is a powerful tool that today is still widely misunderstood as dangerous, extreme, or simply regarded as a diet fad to lose weight. Of course, if it’s important for you to be alert in the morning, he says it’s OK to have some black coffee — but stay away from any adding creamer, sugar, honey or other sweeteners. Fasting was used as a treatment for diabetes before the discovery of insulin in 1922 and was also used as a treatment for obesity until the mid-1960s, but the prolonged fasting used to cure obesity in those days proved dangerous and so it fell from favour – until quite recently. Also, unlike mice, the human body may have ways of slowing down metabolism so that as you consume fewer calories, you also burn fewer. Plus, the hormone melatonin, which prepares our body for sleep, only wears off about two hours after waking. After 16 weeks, the subjects showed a small amount of weight loss — an average of just over 8 pounds each. Additional procedures Complication during fasting: Complications arising at the withdrawal from fasting. Learn more about the science of fasting in these articles: Human metabolism: how we process the food we eat and use it for fuel and to repair our bodies, What happens when we fast: changes in our bodies when we fast, The health benefits of fasting: what scientific studies into intermittent fasting have revealed. The Science Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss. Then, Panda’s team also tried it another way: They took mice that had gained weight because of unrestricted feeding and switched them to time-restricted eating. Lose weight. This post is part of TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here. Plus, the specific type of intermittent fasting that Panda has studied may have additional positive effects. Time-restricted eating can be done by anyone who can count time and limit eating and drinking to specific periods. They took two genetically identical sets of mice and fed them the same diet — a lab-mice version of the standard American diet that’s high in fat and simple sugar and low in protein. For example, most of us know that getting sunlight early in the morning is beneficial to our mood and sleep and that being exposed to light at 9PM via our cell phones or laptops can disrupt our night’s sleep. Discover the science behind intermittent fasting and whether eating nothing really helps with weight loss, mental clarity, and energy. With time-restricted eating, you might switch to eating breakfast at 8AM, including coffee, and finishing your dinner by 6PM.

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