Intermittent fasting is a term used for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting.

For most people, this usually involves skipping breakfast each day and eating from around 12 pm to 8 pm, then fasting for 16 hours until they start eating again the next day at 12 pm.

Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting can have incredible effects on your body and brain.

Here are 8 science-based benefits:

1) Changes functions of cells, genes and hormones

Your body changes when you don’t eat for a while. For instance, your body begins to implement cellular repair processes and alters hormones to latch onto stored body fat.

Here are what studies have found regarding these changes:

– Human growth hormone: Growth hormone may increase by 5 times its normal amount. This helps burn fat and increase muscle gain.

–  Insulin levels: Insulin level drop, which fastens fat burning.

– Cellular repair: Cellular repair processes begins. This involves getting rid of waste from cells.

Bottom line: Fasting causes human growth hormone to increase and insulin levels to decrease. Cells begin repairing cells and alter the genes they express.

2) Lose weight and shred belly fat

For most people who intermittent fast, they generally eat fewer meals. By itself, this will mean you’re taking in few calories.

However, higher growth hormone, lower insulin levels and larger amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all facilitate better breakdown of body fat.

Studies have found that short-term fasting boosts metabolic rate by 3.6-14%.

A 2014 review of scientific literature found that intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks.

It was also found that people lost 4-7% of waist circumference, which means belly fat.

Bottom line: Intermittent fasting probably means you’ll eat few calories and you’ll also boost metabolism. Put together, that’s a pretty effective tool to lose weight.

3) It can reduce insulin resistance

Intermittent fasting has major benefits for insulin resistance and reduces blood sugar levels.

Studies show blood sugar levels reduced by 3-6% after fasting. This suggests that intermittent fasting may be protective for developing type 2 diabetes.

Bottom line: Intermittent fasting reduces insulin resistance and lowers blood sugar levels, which may provide protection from type 2 diabetes.

4) Reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body

Studies show that fasting may increase the body’s resistance to oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress has been found to be one of the steps towards aging and many chronic diseases.

Studies also show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, which has been linked to many diseases.

Bottom line: Studies suggest that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. This would likely have benefits to aging and proection agaainst developing several diseases.

5) Improved heart health

Heart disease is one of the world’s biggest killers. There are several risk factors to heart disease, which intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce.

This includes lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, blood truglycerides, inflammation and blood sugar levels.

Bottom line: Intermittent fasting can improve many risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar levels.

6) May help prevent cancer

Cancer is a horrible disease that leads to uncontrolled growth of cells.

There is evidence from animal studies that suggest intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer.

Fasting has benefits to metabolism which may lead to reduce risk of cancer.

There is also evidence of human cancer patients showing reduced side effects of chemotherapy because of fasting.

Bottom line: Animal studies suggest intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer. Evidence also suggests that it may benefit side effects of chemotherapy. 

7) Good for your brain

In general, what works for your body also works for your brain. Intermittent fasting improves several metabolic factors that are thought important for brain health.

This includes reduce inflammation, reduced blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and reduce oxidative stress.

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting increases levels of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a deficiency which has been linked to depression and other brain problems.

Bottom line: Intermittent fasting improves several metabolic factors that are thought important for brain health and increases levels of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

8) May extend your lifespan

Studies on rats show that intermittent fasting may extend lifespan. Some of the studies showed that rats that fasted lived 83% longer than rats that didn’t.

However, this hasn’t been proven in human studies. But given intermittent fasting benefits to metabolism and other factors, it makes sense that it could help you live longer.

Bottom line: Studies on rats show that intermittent fasting may extend lifespan.