Fasting Benefits and the Best Types to Try for Better Health

Fasting Benefits


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Fasting has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including weight loss, better blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, and improved heart health. It may also provide protection against some diseases such as cancer and neurological illnesses.

Despite its recent popularity, fasting is a centuries-old practise that plays an important part in many cultures and religions.

Imagine being able to jump-start your metabolism, feel more invigorated, and reap a variety of health advantages without having to track calories or adhere to strict meal plans. Here are just a few of the advantages of fasting.

What makes fasting feel so surprising is that, with all of the diet advice available, the simplest solution may be to simply not eat. Of course, fasting is not the same as starving oneself, as many people believe when they hear the term “fasting.” Fasting, on the other hand, is not a diet.

Fasting literally means abstaining from food and drink for a set length of time. It’s been around for hundreds of years since spiritual fasting is a feature of many religions, and in this context, I like to think of it as just a change in eating habits.

You have a defined window of time when you eat, whether it’s a few hours a day or certain days of the week, instead of three square meals a day or a handful of smaller meals throughout the day. During that period, you are free to eat whatever you want – within reason, of course.

It’s unlikely that you’ll gain the benefits of fasting if you eat processed foods and potato chips. If this describes you, I recommend that you check your nutrition before attempting a fast.

However, if you fast and follow a mainly whole food diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and raw dairy, you will notice changes — and those rare splurges on chocolate or cheese won’t have as much of an impact as they would if you were on a calorie-restricted diet.

The beauty of fasting is that there is no single “correct” method to go about it. In truth, there are multiple prominent styles of fasting as well as numerous benefits to fasting.

Fasting Has Many Advantages

1. Maintains Ghrelin levels in check

What is ghrelin? It is also known as the hunger hormone since it tells your body when it is hungry.

Dieting and extremely restrictive diet might actually increase ghrelin production, making you feel hungrier. Fasting, albeit difficult in the beginning, helps to normalise ghrelin levels.

You will eventually stop feeling hungry just because it is mealtime. Instead, your body will become more adept at determining when it genuinely requires meals.

2. Promotes Weight Loss

Fasting has been shown in research to be an effective method for weight loss. According to one 2015 study, alternate day fasting lowered body weight by up to 7%, while entire day fasting reduced body weight by up to 9%.

Another study, this one from the University of Southern California, discovered that when 71 adults went on a five-day fast (eating between 750 and 1,100 calories per day) once every three months, they lost an average of six pounds, reduced inflammation levels and waistlines, and lost total body fat without losing muscle mass. Fasting, especially if it is irregular, may be the key to losing weight and abdominal fat.

3. Enhances HGH secretion

Human growth hormone (HGH) is created naturally by the body but only lasts a few minutes in the bloodstream. It has been shown to aid with obesity and muscle mass, which is vital for fat loss, and fasting increases HGH output.

HGH also increases muscle strength, which can help you perform better during workouts. When you combine these, you’ll have a powerful fat-burning machine on your hands.

4. Could Benefit Athletic Performance

In elite athletes, fasting has been shown to improve body mass as well as other health indices. This is owing to the fact that, as previously stated, it can successfully aid in the loss of excess fat while also optimising muscle growth through HGH synthesis.

Athletes have traditionally been encouraged to ingest high-quality protein half an hour after finishing their workouts (post-workout nutrition) in order to develop muscle and lose fat at the same time. On training days, fasting is advocated, whereas eating is encouraged on game days.

5. Aids in the Normalization of Insulin Sensitivity

When your body consumes an excessive amount of carbohydrates and sugar, it can develop insulin resistance. This frequently contributes to a slew of chronic ailments, including type 2 diabetes.

If you don’t want to pursue this road, you must keep your body insulin responsive. Fasting is an efficient technique to accomplish this.

Intermittent fasting improved key markers for persons with type 2 diabetes, including body weight and glucose levels, according to a study published in the World Journal of Diabetes. Another study discovered that intermittent fasting was just as efficient as calorie restriction in lowering visceral fat mass, fasting insulin, and insulin resistance as caloric restriction.

6.Can Triglycerides Be Reduced?

Triglyceride levels may rise if you ingest too much bad cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease. Intermittent fasting truly helps cut harmful cholesterol levels while also lowering triglycerides.

7. Aids in the slowing of the signs of ageing

While additional human study is needed, animal studies appear to link intermittent fasting with improved longevity. In one study, intermittent fasting was observed to reduce body weight and increase life span in rats.

Another study discovered that mice who fasted occasionally lived longer than the control group, despite being heavier than non-fasting mice. Of course, it’s unclear whether the same consequences would occur in humans, but the indicators are promising.

Indeed, there is a wealth of evidence suggesting it can indeed slow the signs of ageing and improve longevity.

Fasting Classifications:

Fasting on alternate days

Alternate day fasting is a sort of intermittent fasting in which you severely restrict the quantity of calories you eat on fasting days while eating to your heart’s content on non-fasting days. Food isn’t completely off-limits, but you limit yourself to roughly 25% of your typical caloric intake. For example, someone who consumes 2,000 calories might reduce their intake to 500.

Alternate day fasting isn’t essential a long-term strategy because it can be tough to maintain, but it can be useful for starting a good habit.

Intermittent fasting

This is also known as cyclic fasting. Intermittent fasting is a catch-all word for eating (and not eating) on an irregular basis. In fact, practically all of the strategies listed below are variations on intermittent fasting!

Typical intermittent fasting times range from 14 to 18 hours. Any of these strategies would require you to fast for 32-36 hours.

5:2 Diet

It is similar to alternate day fasting, except that you eat regularly five days a week. On the other two, calories are limited to 500-600 per day.

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Eating on a Tight Schedule

You abstain from food for 12-16 hours if you practise time-restricted eating. You can eat as much of your favourite nutritious foods as you like within your eating window. This is one of the most prevalent fasting methods.

It is rather straightforward to adopt time-restricted eating. If you complete dinner at 7 p.m., for example, you won’t eat anything else until at least 7 a.m. If you wish to go even further, you can keep the fast going until 11 a.m. or 12 p.m.

Because you’ll be sleeping for a substantial portion of the “no eating” time, this is a fantastic way to incorporate fasting into your routine and explore without making any major adjustments.

16/8 Fasting

You fast for 16 hours a day and then eat for the remaining eight.

The Warrior Diet

You’ll stick to fruits and vegetables during the day and then eat a well-rounded, larger meal in the evenings.

What may I consume while fasting intermittently?

Water and zero-calorie liquids such as black coffee and tea are permitted when you are not eating.

And “eating normally” during your eating intervals does not imply going insane. If you fill your meals with high-calorie junk food, super-sized fried foods, and desserts, you’re unlikely to lose weight or get healthy.

The Advantages of Intermittent Fasting:

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According to research, intermittent fasting does more than only burn fat.
Here are some of the benefits of intermittent fasting that have been discovered thus far:

  • Memory and thought: According to research, intermittent fasting improves working memory in animals and verbal memory in adults.
  • Cardiovascular health: Intermittent fasting increased blood pressure, resting heart rate, and other heart-related measures.
  • Physical ability: Fasting for 16 hours resulted in fat loss while retaining muscular mass in young males. Mice fed on alternate days have more endurance when running.
  • Obesity and type 2 diabetes: Intermittent fasting prevented obesity in animal trials. In six brief experiments, obese adult individuals lost weight by fasting intermittently.

Type 2 diabetics may benefit from: The majority of existing data indicates that intermittent fasting can help patients lose weight and lower their fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and leptin levels while also reducing insulin resistance, decreasing leptin levels, and raising adiponectin levels. According to certain research, some patients who practised intermittent fasting under the guidance of their doctors were able to eliminate the requirement for insulin therapy.

  • The state of tissue health: Intermittent fasting minimized tissue damage during surgery and enhanced results in mice.

How to Fast ?

This fasting strategy has been connected to a variety of potential health benefits, including short-term increases in human growth hormone (HGH) and alterations in gene expression.

These effects have been related to increased longevity and a lower risk of disease. As a result, those who fast on a regular basis frequently want to lose weight or live a healthier, longer life.

Fasting, on the other hand, might be hazardous if not done correctly.

Here are some ideas to help you fast safely.

1. Maintain proper hydration

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Mild dehydration can cause weariness, dry mouth, thirst, and headaches, thus staying hydrated is critical during fasting.

To stay hydrated, most health professionals advocate the 8-ounce rule: eight 8-ounce glasses (slightly under 2 litres total) of fluid each day.

The actual amount of fluid you require, while most likely within this range, is highly individual.

Because eating provides about 20-30% of the fluid your body need, it is very easy to become dehydrated while fasting.

Many people strive to consume 8.5-13 cups (2-3 litres) of water per day during fasting. Your thirst, on the other hand, should alert you when you need to drink more, so pay attention to your body.

2. Keep fasting periods to a minimum.

There is no one method to fast, therefore the length of your fast is entirely up to you.
Longer fasting intervals raise your risk of fasting-related diseases. Dehydration, irritability, mood swings, fainting, hunger, a lack of energy, and inability to focus are among symptoms.
The easiest method to avoid these negative effects is to fast for shorter durations of up to 24 hours, especially if you’re just starting off.

3. On fast days, eat only a small amount.

In general, fasting is abstaining from some or all food and drink for an extended period of time.

Although you can skip meals on fast days, some fasting patterns, such as the 5:2 diet, allow you to consume up to 25% of your daily calorie requirements.

If you wish to try fasting, limiting your calories so that you can still eat tiny quantities on your fast days may be a safer option than going cold turkey.

This method may assist to lessen some of the hazards associated with fasting, such as feeling dizzy, hungry, and disoriented.

It may also make fasting more sustainable because you will likely feel less hungry.

4. Avoid Breaking Fasts with a Feast

It can be tempting to rejoice after a period of restriction by eating a large meal.

Breaking your fast with a feast, on the other hand, may leave you feeling bloated and exhausted.

Furthermore, if you are trying to lose weight, feasting may affect your long-term goals by reducing or stopping your weight loss.

5. Consume Enough Protein

Many people begin fasting in order to lose weight.

A calorie deficit, on the other hand, can promote muscle loss in addition to fat loss.

One approach to reduce muscle loss when fasting is to eat adequate protein on the days you eat.

Safety and potential side effects

Despite the numerous potential health benefits of fasting, it may not be appropriate for everyone.

For example, if you have diabetes, fasting can cause severe rises and crashes in your blood sugar levels.

If you have any underlying health concerns or want to fast for more than 24 hours, it is important to consult a doctor first.

Fasting is also not generally recommended without medical supervision for elderly adults, adolescents, or persons who are underweight.

If you decide to try fasting, make sure to stay hydrated and fill your diet with nutrient-dense foods during your eating periods to maximise the potential health advantages.

Additionally, if fasting for an extended period of time, try to limit strenuous physical activity and obtain enough of relaxation.

In conclusion:

Image via Jane Racey Gleeson

Fasting has been linked to a variety of potential health benefits, including weight loss, improved blood sugar control, heart health, brain function, and cancer prevention.

There are numerous various styles of fasting that accommodate practically every lifestyle, ranging from water fasting to intermittent fasting and calorie restriction.

Fasting may be beneficial to your health when combined with a good food and a healthy lifestyle.