Fasting has become popular as a way to lose weight and improve health, but there's some confusion about its effects on metabolism—the way our bodies convert food into energy. Does fasting help or harm our metabolism?
Before we dive in, let's understand what metabolism is. It's the process by which our bodies convert food into the energy needed to sustain life. Metabolism has two parts: anabolism, which builds molecules, and catabolism, which breaks them down. The rate at which these processes happen is called metabolic rate.
The Potential Benefits of Fasting on Metabolism:
Boosts Fat Burning: Fasting can put your body in a state called ketosis, where it mainly burns stored fat for energy. This can help with weight loss and fat burning.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity: Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is good for people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Better insulin sensitivity helps regulate glucose and promotes overall metabolic health.
Increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH): Fasting can raise the production of HGH, which helps maintain muscle mass, burn fat, and support metabolism.
The Potential Drawbacks of Fasting on Metabolism:
Slows Resting Metabolic Rate: Extended fasting or extreme calorie restriction can lower your resting metabolic rate (RMR)—the calories your body burns at rest. This can make long-term weight loss more difficult.
Muscle Loss: In severe fasting or prolonged calorie restriction, your body might start breaking down muscle tissue for energy. This leads to muscle loss and a decrease in overall metabolic rate.
Hormonal Imbalances: Some people may experience hormonal imbalances, such as reduced thyroid function, from long periods of fasting or severe calorie restriction. This can affect metabolism and overall well-being.
Finding a Balance:
Fasting affects metabolism differently depending on how long you fast and your approach. Short-term intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating, where you limit your eating to a specific window each day, may offer metabolic benefits without major drawbacks.
However, it's crucial to listen to your body, watch for negative effects, and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any fasting plan, especially if you have existing health conditions.
*This blog is credibly sourced*