How to Try Fasting for Your Health

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  • The idea of fasting can be really daunting.
  • With so many options to try, it can be difficult to identify the fasting regimen that is best for you.
  • Let’s delve into the world of fasting, so you can get on the right track for better results.

Weight loss is not a simple subject. Some people approach it for vanity, others are interested in increasing their stamina, decreasing their risk of disease, and optimizing their brain function. But it has to be approached in a healthy and productive way. Long gone are the days when fad diets are considered helpful. Now, people are turning to advanced scientific research and weight loss methods backed by years of solid evidence before engaging in a program. It is important to be  discerning with these matters, especially when it comes to your health.

Whether you’re approaching an altered nutrition plan, choosing to supplement your diet, engaging in a new exercise routine, or otherwise, you may be feeling the pull to a healthier lifestyle. If you’ve done any research – or spoken to a few workout buffs in recent months – you’ve most likely happened upon fasting as an alternative. Many people engage in intermittent fasting, or only allowing themselves to eat certain foods within a small window of time. A popular method of fasting is ingesting nothing but water (and sometimes black coffee) for 16 hours out of your day, and giving yourself an 8 hour window to receive your nutrients. Some diets involve eating 5 days a week, and the other two days limiting food consumption to as low as 500 calories. Some cut out food altogether for days at a time.

After about 2-3 days of fasting, your body begins to rely on pre-stored fats as its sole energy source. This helps to burn off what is already inside the body. The thought pattern is that, the longer you fast, the more your body uses what it already has. There are so many methods and ideologies when it comes to fasting. We explore several below.

The number one reason people turn to fasting is to lose weight, and quickly.

People approaching this method with weight loss in mind often have higher expectations for their weight loss goals. This is natural, as many people think cutting down drastically on their food intake will help them to shed pounds quickly. A systematic review of 40 studies revealed that people who participate in intermittent fasting lose an average of 7-11 pounds over the course of 10 weeks. However, if the food you are choosing to eat within that window of time is unhealthy or doesn’t satisfy your particular body chemistry’s needs, then they may not lose the weight, or may lose the wrong kind of weight (lean body mass and bone vs excess fat).

Many people engage in intermittent fasting to help regulate their body’s energy production.

Many people choose to kickstart a healthier lifestyle with fasting. In this way, they have conquered something that is otherwise very difficult for them. It almost makes any other small, long-term lifestyle tweaks feel easy. People who may feel bogged down or tired and listless during the day often turn to adjusting their eating schedule to optimize their body’s natural resources.

As many people turn to fasting for upleveling their energy throughout the day, the same can be said for basic performance. Whether they are embarking on a strenuous exercise routine, trying to stay engaged in their daily movement, or optimizing their productivity in any way – at home with the kids, at work, or through rigorous schooling – fasting has been reported to help engage mental awareness and clarity.

Fasting has shown promise as a supplementary treatment option for people who struggle with blood sugar issues, diabetes, or even symptoms of pre-diabetes.

The idea that you can manipulate your blood sugar intake and help regulate it long-term through the process is very exciting. This is especially true if every other measure has proven difficult or hasn’t shown the desired results.  However can be dangerous to some people with diabetes and should only be done under the care of their doctor.

Fasting can help you age better.

Many studies on fasting over time have shown vast improvement in autophagy, and even neuronal autophagy. Simply put, fasting can help rid your body of damaged cells at an optimized rate. It also helps to rejuvenate lesser damaged cells, and even produce new, healthy ones. Historically, fasting has upregulated autophagy in vital organs like the liver, but recent studies suggest it has quite a bit of influence over the brain and its function as well.

Those who are interested in more drastic results have often wandered away from intermittent fasting and into water fasting territory. Water fasting is a more intense form of fasting, completed in a shorter amount of time, during which 0 calories are consumed. Like its intermittent counterparts, it has been studied in conjunction with lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. Unfortunately, this is not the most safe route. Many water fasts ask that you indulge in nothing but water for 24 hours to multiple days, and if your body isn’t used to this type of behavior, it could trigger more of a fight or flight response than anything else.

In this case, choosing to try intermittent fasting definitely offers benefits, is safer than water-only fasting, and there are a host of ways to try it. The four most popular options include:

  1. Time Restricted Eating (TRE) is a common and simple place to start.  Here, you fast every single day, for a set number of hours. This option is one of the most popular, as each individual can set their own rules around the window of time they are allowed to eat. People who are just starting out with fasting may want to ease into it, perhaps trying it a couple of days a week before creating a daily habit out of it.
  2. The alternate-day fasting method outlines fasting every other day and gives you space to eat as usual with no rules on non-fasting days. On fasting days, participants restrict their caloric consumption by an average of 75%. This way, the body and its metabolism are consistently adjusting to make up for the calorie difference.
  3. Weekly fasting involves consuming a balanced diet 6 days a week, and consuming only sugar-free liquids (preferably water) for 24 full hours.
  4. The 5:2 Plan is just as it sounds. For 5 days out of the week, you follow your regular balanced diet plan. On 2 days of the week, you consume a limit of only 500-600 calories each day. If you’re trying this method, be sure to schedule the two fasting days separately from each other, as it is not suggested to do them consecutively.

 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.