What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Fast. Feast. Repeat." by Gin Stephens. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How does fasting induce fat loss? What are the benefits of intermittent fasting apart from weight loss?

In the fasted state, your body converts your fat stores into ketones, a fat-based energy source. Put another way, you burn your fat as fuel (a state called ketosis). In addition to fat loss, intermittent fasting has other health benefits.

Keep reading to learn about the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

Health Benefits of Fasting

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting? In her book Fast. Feast. Repeat., Gin Stephens explains three main health benefits of intermittent fasting in addition to fat loss:

Benefit #1: Fasting promotes autophagy, which Stephens calls your body’s natural recycling process. Autophagy takes damaged or aging cellular materials and breaks them down into raw material that can become new cells and compounds. Autophagy is a key bodily process that helps prevent disease—everything from cancer to aging and neurodegenerative disorders.

Benefit #2: Fasting is great for your heart and brain. Research has linked fasting to improvements in various aspects of cardiovascular health, including reduced blood pressure, cardiovascular stress response, and your heart tissue’s ability to heal damages. 

Other studies found that intermittent fasting increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a compound that helps neurons resist degeneration. This improves cognition and reduces risks related to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. 

Benefit #3: Fasting may fight aging. According to Stephens, research found that fasting can increase metabolites—compounds produced by metabolic processes—that help maintain muscles and promote anti-aging antioxidant activity.

Autophagy Is the Key Benefit

At present, research shows that intermittent fasting is an effective way to induce autophagy, supporting Stephens’s argument. Further, autophagy may be the root benefit that promotes the rest:

– Many degenerative diseases—everything from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to arthritis and polio—occur due to cellular and tissue degeneration. 

– Since autophagy is how the body recycles and reuses degenerating cellular material, it stands to reason that autophagy would combat degenerative diseases.Researchers have linked autophagy to decreased risk of some cancers and obesity as well as neurodegenerative diseases. In other words, fasting indirectly promotes a variety of positive health outcomes through the restorative effects of autophagy.

What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Gin Stephens's "Fast. Feast. Repeat." at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Fast. Feast. Repeat. summary :

  • How intermittent fasting can help you lose weight, feel better, fight disease, and live longer
  • An explanation of the cutting-edge science that supports fasting
  • How to follow a four-week quickstart program to adapt to this new lifestyle

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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