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7 Intermittent Fasting Benefits That Aren’t Weight Loss

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Most people try fasting with one goal in mind: losing weight.

But science has also discovered health benefits linked to whole-day, alternate-day, and time-restricted fasting, says Carolyn Williams, Ph.D., the registered dietitian that helped develop the new book The Men’s Health Guide to Intermittent Fasting.

Scientists speculate that the benefits of short-term fasts may come from the structured break they provide to around-the-clock eating.

“Even if you don’t change the content of your diet, by controlling the time period in which your calories are consumed, you give your body a pause from a constant onslaught food,” says Williams.

Maybe you’re skeptical. But Williams says that, at first, she was too.

The Men’s Health Guide to Intermittent Fasting

She studied the research. She looked at the data. She even tried a time-restricted fast herself. “I expected the fast to affect my blood sugar because I’m prone to low blood sugar and I know how I get without eating,” Williams says.

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But Williams says she was surprised to find that she had no trouble going 16 hours without eating. Her method: She stopped eating after dinner and fasted from 7 p.m. to 11 a.m., following the popular 16:8 intermittent fasting pattern, which leaves an 8-hour-long window for eating.

“I find I’m really not hungry; in fact, sometimes I have to remind myself to eat lunch,” Williams says.

While more research is needed to determine if fasting is effective for long-term dieting, there’s no debate that it works in the short-term.

By refraining from eating for at least 12 hours (ideally 16), your body starts burning through glucose and can begin tapping fat for fuel, explains Williams. Studies show that you can expect to lose between 3 and 8 percent of your bodyweight in as few as three weeks.

High Angle View Of Various Fruits With Exercise Equipment On Table

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Compared to calorie-restriction diets, intermittent fasting tends to trigger more belly fat loss, the research suggests. Anecdotally, Williams says she senses greater energy and improved clarity of thought.

Here are some other potential upsides of intermittent fasting, each supported by research.

Intermittent fasting may help maintain muscle.

Whenever you restrict calories and lose weight, some of that weight comes from a reduction in muscle mass. That goes for intermittent fasts as well as traditional calorie-restriction diets.

top view of fruit, milk and clock

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However, at least one study conducted by the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois suggests that intermittent fasting may be more effective for retaining muscle mass.

The study compared overweight and obese adults who followed a calorie restriction diet with similar-weight subjects who restricted calories through intermittent fasting. After 12 weeks, the researchers found both diets to be equally effective in trimming body weight and fat mass, but less muscle was lost by the group that fasted.

Intermittent fasting may target belly fat.

      Overweight people who could choose any 10-hour timeframe to eat as long as they refrained from eating the other 14 hours of the day saw a reduction in waist circumference and visceral abdominal fat after 12 weeks, according to a report in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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      Intermittent fasting may reduce diabetes risk.

      The study in Cell Metabolism referenced above also demonstrated the potential of intermittent fasting to reduce risk of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

      All the participants in the study were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health conditions—including high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol or triglycerides levels—that occurring together boost the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

      After 12 weeks, every participant experienced improvement in all of the common markers of metabolic syndrome.

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      A similar study in the journal Translational Research found that alternate-day fasting, in which participants restricted calories by 75 percent on a “fast day,” followed by a “feed day” without calorie restriction, resulted in clinically significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin resistance.

      Intermittent fasting may lower high blood pressure.

          A study published in Nutrition and Healthy Aging demonstrated that participants who practiced 16:8 intermittent fasting without calorie counting significantly reduced their systolic blood pressure compared to a control group after 12 weeks.

          Intermittent fasting could fight inflammation.

              Inflammation is your body’s natural way of fighting off infection, illness, and injury. But there’s another type of inflammation, a chronic inflammation that can silently trigger heart disease and diabetes.

              Smoking, mental stress, and a regular diet of fatty, fried, or sugary foods are common causes. Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting may induce an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces risk of those metabolic diseases—and even improve pulmonary function in people with asthma.

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              What’s more, a reduction in inflammation due to short-term fasting appears to protect the brain from memory disorders and depression, according to a study in Obesity.

              Intermittent fasting may reduce oxidative stress.

                  Even when you don’t lose weight while on an intermittent fasting routine, your cells may benefit from extra protection, according to a study in Cell Metabolism.

                  The study assigned men with prediabetes to either a 6-hour early eating period, where they could eat only from 8 a.m. until dinner before 2 p.m., fasting the rest of the day, or a 12-hour feeding period.

                  At the end of five weeks, the researchers found that the men on the early time- restricted fast improved blood pressure and insulin sensitivity (as expected), but also improved resistance to oxidative stress, where unstable molecules called free radicals can damage proteins and DNA.

                  Intermittent fasting may help you live longer.

                  Rodent studies suggest that intermittent fasting, which is much easier to maintain than extreme calorie cutting, may boost lifespan, too. In one study comparing rats who were given unrestricted access to food to rats who were fed every other day, the rats who fasted lived 83 percent longer than those who gorged themselves.

                  For a quick primer on how to start a health-boosting fast yourself, plus dozens of delicious recipes for brunch, dinner, and even Keto-diet-friendly meals, check out The Men’s Health Guide to Intermittent Fasting here.

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          Health

          How to Practice Yoga for Weight Loss

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          Yoga with a view.

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          Yoga may not be the most intense, calorie-torching workout, but the practice can help you shed pounds if weight loss is your goal.

          Yoga can increase heart rate, burn calories, improve sleep, and reduce stress—all of which helps with weight loss. However, the number on the scale shouldn’t be the only reason you begin a workout routine. Plus, it’s worth noting that your diet plays an important role in weight management.

          In fact, exercise may lead some people to consume more food, which can hinder weight loss. According to a study published last year, people who began exercising consumed roughly 90 more calories each day. It may seem like an insignificant amount of food, but researchers found this was enough to stall weight loss, according to the paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

          That said, yoga is a great full body workout that can help you burn calories and be more mindful of your diet, says instructor Olivia Young, founder of Box + Flow in New York. She tells Men’s Health what you should know before trying yoga to lose weight.

          What type of yoga is best for weight loss?

          If you’re not familiar with the practice, there are various types of yoga—and some are relaxing while others are pretty intense. Young recommends Vinyasa because it’s more athletic.

          “It’s strenuous. It’s cardio-based. It’s literally moving constantly,” she says.

          You may have also heard this referred to as “flow” because the movements run together, according to VeryWellFit. Within Vinyasa, there are various other subsets, like power yoga.

          In comparison, Hatha focuses on one pose at a time and includes breaks between movements.

          You should become acquainted with movements like the downward dog, high plank, and low push up, commonly found in a flow sequence, says Young.

          Men’s Health

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          Yoga improves other factors that help with weight loss

          Research shows that yoga can help your body respond to stress more effectively, by reducing heart rate and blood pressure in stressful situations. What’s more, one 2013 study found that people who practiced yoga reported having fewer sleeping disturbances compared to those who didn’t. And both sleep and stress can affect your weight. That’s because poor sleep increases ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite. And worrying all the time increases cortisol, the stress hormone, which may lead to sugar cravings, according to WebMD.

          How much weight can you lose doing yoga?

          Weight loss varies by person and is dependent on a variety of factors including beginning weight, overall activity level, and diet. However, practicing yoga for at least four years was associated to gaining about three pounds less in people with normal Body Mass Indexes, according to a study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.

          For optimal results, Young recommends practicing yoga four times a week and pairing it with extra cardio, like shadow boxing or running.

          It’s natural to want fast results, but the most successful dieters lose weight slowly. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends losing no more than one to two pounds per week.

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          Watch Dr. Pimple Popper Push a ‘Squirrel’ Out of This Neck Cyst

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          Squirrel

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          • In a new Instagram video, Dr. Pimple Popper pops a neck cyst that is squirrel-like in appearance, according to some creative fans.
          • The cyst, which is likely an epidermoid cyst, has a unique whiteish-gray coloring.
          • The growth is likely filled with dead skin cells and keratin, not a squirrel.

            To loosely quote Willy Wonka, this cyst is certainly one bad nut. In a new Instagram video, Dr. Pimple Popper—aka, dermatologist and TLC host Dr. Sandra Lee, MD—pops a neck cyst that is squirrel-like in appearance, according to some creative fans. And it’s creating quite a stir on social media.

            “That’s a doozy,” one fan commented on the video. And the whole situation certainly is.

            In the rodent-reminiscent clip, Dr. Lee squeezes a large neck cyst, causing its contents to come out slowly. The cyst, which is likely an epidermoid cyst, has a unique whiteish-gray coloring and is quite lumpy in appearance.

            “Looks like she’s giving birth to a squirrel,” one particularly imaginative fan commented on the clip. Sure, it would be birth through the neck, but we will go with that.

            Though not a squirrel, the patient did “birth” a collection of wet dead skin cells and keratin, which collect in cysts of this nature. Depending on the melanin content in a person’s skin, cyst contents can be grayish in appearance. Epidermoid cysts like this one often occur on the face, neck and body. So all in all, this “squirrel cyst” is actually quite a textbook specimen.

            Watch the squirrel cyst enter this cruel, cruel world below:

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          Amazon’s ‘Hunters’ Season 1 Ending

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          Spoiler warning: considering this is discussing the very end events of the first season of Amazon’s Hunters, this post contains extremely sensitive spoilers. Do not read further if you do not want to have the ending ruined. You’ve been warned!


          • The season one finale of Amazon Prime’s Hunters leans into its pulpy roots, with a pair of twists that will leave viewers with their jaws dropped.
          • Both twists were foreshadowed to a certain extent, but still were total game-changers in multiple ways.
          • We break down what that ending means below.

            So you’ve made it through all 10 bloody, violence-filled, action-packed episodes of Amazon’s new historical revenge fantasy series, Hunters. You’ve gotten your fill of both Logan Lerman, Al Pacino, and the rest of the gang, and well, no need to beat around the bush: you’ve just seen that ending.

            There’s, of course, a lot to talk about in the episode. A few major threads are setting up, putting characters in positions that will certainly continue into a second season: that includes the psychopathic young American neo-nazi Travis Leich seeming to start an Aryan army from prison, and FBI Agent Millie Morris getting the resources to start her own in-system Nazi-hunting task force. But that’s not what you want to hear about right now; no, we’re here to talk exclusively about those two enormous, outrageous twists that came at the back end of the episode.

            Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve opened my jaw yet following the last 40 or so minutes of the season. What did I just see? What is this? What is up? What is down? What is anything? OK—time to get it together. We’ve got a show to talk about, and one way or another, we’re gonna do it.

            The Truth About Meyer Offerman and The Wolf

            Throughout the season, we heard about a search for Meyer Offerman’s white whale, a Nazi doctor called “The Wolf.” Meyer (Al Pacino) is the leader of the Hunters, a rich man bankrolling and organizing the entire operation; along the way, he’s also revealed to be Jonah’s grandfather (the two met at his Safta’s funeral; Jonah was brought in on “The Hunt” not long after).

            In nearly every episode, we see flashbacks to The Wolf endlessly torturing Meyer at Auschwitz. As the story goes, Wilhelm “The Wolf” Zuchs was enamored with Ruth (Jonah’s grandmother), but she rejected him; he noticed that she instead was drawn to Meyer, and thus Meyer became the object of his jealousy and sadism. At one point, a scene depicts The Wolf pulling Meyer out of bed and forcing him to choose between Ruth being shot to death, and Meyer shooting a random innocent Auschwitz prisoner. Meyer chose to save Ruth, and wound up killing 11 innocent people that night—he chose the love of Jonah’s grandmother.

            By the end of the season, Meyer has changed Jonah—he’s convinced him that he was not only meant to be a part of the hunt, but eventually to lead it. Jonah looks through his grandmother’s notes, and eventually realizes that she had found The Wolf. Jonah goes to find him, confirms his identity, and kidnaps him, bringing him to Meyer. Jonah is troubled, though, when Meyer eventually kills this man he believes was The Wolf—his grandmother’s note says that Meyer has been waiting his whole life to say the Mourner’s Kaddish for The Wolf. Meyer stabs “The Wolf” in the back of the head, killing him, but recites no prayer, something Jonah immediately notes. He puts things together, and comes to teh terrible realization: “Meyer” is really The Wolf, and has been ever since the end of the war.

            We can talk another time about whether this twist works narratively speaking or not, but logistically it sort of had to happen. Al Pacino is Al Pacino; he probably wasn’t going to be a part of a TV series for multiple seasons, and any character he ended up playing probably would have something up.

            So, yes, Meyer Offerman really was Jonah’s grandfather—but this person he’s been spending so much time with…isn’t Meyer Offerman. Meyer tells Jonah that he’s right, and the whole truth trickles out from there. The Wolf killed the real Meyer, stealing his identity Dick Whitman/Don Draper style, and for the last 30 years has been living as a vengeful jewish man, despite his true identity as a sadistic Nazi. While he’s still The Wolf in actuality, he claims to have learned his lesson—he doesn’t ask for forgiveness, but truly does seem to believe in all of his acts. He really does believe in The Hunt, and says that it’s his purpose. But despite this, he’s not a Jew. He still did all the things he did, and as much as he’s been a literal Wolf in sheep’s clothing, he is who he is. A central theme of Hunters is whether you need to fight evil with evil, and much of Meyer’s philosophy is explained with this twist.

            Upon learning this, there’s basically no turning back for Jonah. He cannot possibly forgive this man for what he did to both of his grandparents, and, thus, finally completes his first Nazi kill. He shoots Meyer/Wolf before finishing him off with his Grandmother’s blade that he found in the very first episode. He did what he had to do, and while it made for a tough explanation to those remaining on the Hunters team, it needed to be done and helped him continue to grow into the person he was meant to be. While “Meyer”‘s words ring a bit hollow with the realization of his true identity, the coming-of-age factor remains; Jonah has grown into the person ready to lead this vigilante group.

            In retrospect, it was clear for a while that something was up with Meyer; that was more apparent than ever in Season 1, Episode 5, when Meyer shot the woman they believed to be the Nazi propoganda filmmaker Tilda Sauer point blank without properly verifying her. Roxy and Lonny left that moment horrified, but slowly moved past it in the next few episodes. It seemed like the show was just giving Meyer of a mean streak, but, clearly, it turned out to be something much more significant.

            So, while Season 2 of Hunters almost certainly seems like it’s coming, it’s a fair assumption that we won’t be seeing any more of Al Pacino (outside of, maybe, some flashback scenes). Still, Pacino was consistently the best part of the show and played the character perfectly. Take a bow Mr. Pacino! Now onto the (somehow) more insane twist.

            Meanwhile, in Argentina…

            In the aftermath of the Meyer/Wolf reveal (and his death), the team undergoes some major changes. Mindy moves away/retires to be with her family, and Joe quits the team. While walking the street, though, we see Joe get struck by a car and hauled away. Eventually, it’s revealed that Joe was brought down to Argentina, where he’s brought to dinner with The Colonel—revealed to have survived the Episode 9 car crash she was in with Meyer.

            But that’s not all, because as Joe sits, powerless, at the outdoor dinner table, things begin to come into perspective. Throughout the episode, we’ve seen shots of some blonde-haired children playing in a field with a kickball—these are revealed to be The Colonel’s children. And when the children are called for dinner, so, too, is The Colonels’ significant other—and when she calls her significant other, their identities are revealed. “Time to eat, Adolf,” she tells him. “I’m hungry, Eva, darling.”

            hunters hitler finale twists

            Amazon Prime

            Yup, they went there. “The Colonel,” or, “Eva,” is revealed to be Eva Braun. Meaning her Adolf, obviously, is Adolf Hitler. In the Hunters world, these two have survived and escaped to Argentina—obviously setting up a future storyline for season 2.

            It’s worth noting that this isn’t exactly uncharted ground; Hitler was depicted with an entirely fictional death in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds as well, being shot to death a hundred times with a machine gun in that one. Hunters would appear to be building toward a similar crescendo. But still—this twist is f*cking bananas.

            Granted that she was only ever referred to as “The Colonel,” Eva Braun’s identity and reveal makes total sense. It’s something we should’ve thought of more while watching, but there was simply too much else going on to give it any thought.

            It’s also not clear as of now why Joe was brought to their rendezvous in Argentina (where many real Nazi officers escaped to following WWII), but it could mean that the Colonel was particularly impressed with his fighting at the corn syrup plant that led to their foiled plot. It also goes to show that while the Nazis may have been stopped momentarily, they’re nowhere near finished.

            With the remaining Hunters team—led by Jonah but also including Lonny, Sister Harret, and Roxy—talking about a move to Central/South America, and this ending revelation, it would seem like a collision course is surely on the way in Season 2. Where this bonkers story goes from there, well, is anyone’s guess.

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