What’s more, recent research seems to suggest that intermittent fasting results in a different kind of weight loss compared to traditional diets. According to studies carried out by Krista Varady, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago and one of the leading experts in the field, as much as 90% of the total pounds shed by people who are fasting comes from fat loss. By compar- ison, those on traditional diets tend to lose a mixture of 75% fat and 25% muscle. Research has also found that intermittent fasting tends to fine- tune and rev up the complex interplay of hormones in your body in ways that can boost long-term fat loss and help you get off the roller coaster of yo-yo dieting for good. A number of recent stud- ies (including some that were carried out on patients who abstain from eating periodically for religious reasons, rather than for weight loss) have found that intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity and levels of human growth hormone. Leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that play important roles in regulat- ing the body’s hunger signals and fat storage patterns, also appear to be positively impacted by intermittent fasting. Beyond-the-Scale Health Advantages If you’re interested in reaping wellness benefits that go beyond getting back into your favorite pair of jeans, intermittent fasting has also been linked to a number of important quality-of-life factors. The most prominent of these is longevity. In fact, research dating back to the early twentieth century has estab- lished a solid link between intermittent fasting and longer life spans. According to a research review published in Scientific American, fasting and the resulting decreased calorie intake can “extend life span by a third or more,” which makes sense, since unusually long-lived humans and animals tend to have very low insulin levels. Intermittent fasting also appears to have significant heart- health and cardiovascular benefits. In a 2013 study published in Nutrition Journal, participants saw their triglyceride levels plunge by an average of 20% over the course of a 12-week study. Heart disease risk dropped as well due to improvements in the texture and size of their “good” cholesterol particles. Believe it or not, your brain function can even get a boost from skipping a meal from time to time. In a series of studies carried out by researchers at the National Institute on Aging, periodic fasting was linked with a number of brain benefits, including protecting neurons from the harmful effects of stress, shielding cells from toxin-related damage, slowing cognitive decline, and decreasing risk of stroke and degenerative diseases.