Fasting Health Benefits
How long can we go without food? Is there a benefit to not eating for a couple of days? How does it differ from intermittent fasting?
What does fasting mean?
Fasting abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink
Abstain from food, refrain from eating, deny oneself food, go without food, go hungry, eat nothing.
The main difference between fasting and intermittent fasting is the duration. Intermittent fasting happens at intervals, for example 4 days a week you will have dinner and then not eat again until the next day at lunchtime.
Fasting means that you go without food for a set period of time, but only once a week or month. For example, you can do a 24 hour fast once a week or a three day fast once a month.
The important thing to remember when fasting is that you still need to drink water. Depending on the type of fast you are doing, you might decide that tea is also allowed. Or you might do a fast where you can drink anything but just not eat any food. There are many ways of doing it, and it is up to the individual to decide what they prefer to do. Some might prefer a 24 hour fast every week, and other might prefer a 3 day fast once a month.
How do you feel when you fast? Will you get hungry? Yes, you will. When you are used to eating 3 meals a day, even a 24 hour fast will be difficult for you. Bets is to start off with intermittent fasting, and once you are comfortable with it, try a 24 hour fast. Three day fasts are much more difficult. But after a couple of days, the feeling of being hungry actually goes away and it becomes easier.
During a water fast, you are not allowed to eat or drink anything besides water. Most people drink two to three liters of water per day during a water fast. The water fast normally lasts anything from 24 to 72 hours. It is not recommended that you do a water fast for longer than this without medical supervision because of health risks.
When doing a a water fast, start the day by having 2 glasses of water. Then have some water whenever you feel hungry. Mostly, we think we are hungry, but in actual fact we are thirsty. So have a glass of water. Try to get your mind of the feeling of hunger by reading or going for a walk. Strenuous exercise is not recommended during a water-fast.
Current research is showing that you only reap the benefits of fasting after longer periods of fasting – around 20-24 hours. This is also influenced by your activity levels. If you’re fairly sedentary during a fast, you may need 20-24 hours without food before you get any benefits from it.
Another form of fasting is to have water and other liquids, but no food. This is obviously easier, but remember, you can only have liquids that is part of the keto eating plan, like Keto OS or keto switch.
Once you’ve been on keto for a while, fasting becomes easier. You are used to not eating sugar, and your body can regulate your blood sugar much better. When fasting, you don’t have a massive drop in blood sugar levels that you will have on a normal eating plan which includes carbs and sugars.
In the past when I fasted, I started getting dizzy and light-headed after a few hours. My hands normally started shaking slightly. This was caused by the drop in blood sugar levels. Now when I fast, I feel much better and although I have hunger pangs, I am actually not feeling dizzy or shaking. It does make it a bit easier.
So what are the benefits of fasting? Why should I do it?
There are a lot of benefits to fasting. The main benefit is probably that it helps you to lose weight. Below are some benefits.
Fasting Health Benefits
- Helps you to lose weight – due to the fact that you are taking in far less calories than on a normal eating day, it assist with weight loss. Intermittent fasting and fasting is more beneficial for weight loss than a calorie restricted diet.
- It improves brain function – it helps with the production of a protein that protects us against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
- It increases the body’s resistance to stress – stress can lead to all different kinds of diseases, like heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.
- It helps prevent cancer – cancer cells needs sugar to grow and when fasting you are effectively starving the cancer cells from its fuel source.
- Fasting helps the body remove waste – by speeding up the waste removal process (also called autophagy), you will notice improvements in your skin.
- It improves your immune system – it also reduces inflammation and helps that you don’t get sick as easily.
- Raises growth hormone levels – this helps to reduce recovery time, better lean muscle growth and increased fat burning.
- Helps the body maintain lean muscle mass when dieting – the more lean muscle you have the more fat you burn when you are NOT exercising.
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to fasting and intermittent fasting. And remember, it is not something that if you don’t make it for 24 hours, you fail. You might only be able to fast for 16 hours to start off with (intermittent fasting), and slowly increase the duration until you manage to fast for 24 hours. Then you try for 36 hours, then 48, etc. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Always remember to allow yourself enough “recovery” time between fasts. The benefits you reap from it, are worth the effort.
Basic fasting plan:
- Week 1 – aim to do 3 days intermittent fasting (Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
- This means you eat dinner on the previous night and then only have water/tea until lunch time the next day.
- Week 2 – aim to do a 24 hour fast once this week
- Choose a day to do a 24 hour fast. Have you last meal the night before, and do not eat again until the next night. If your last meal was at 6 pm, try not to have dinner again until 7pm the following night.
- Week 3 – Aim to do 2 intermittent fasts (Monday and Friday) and one 24 hour fast (Wednesday).
- Week 4 – Do an intermittent fast every weekday this week.
- Week 5 – Try and do a 48 hour fast in the middle of the week.
- Week 6 – Do an intermittent fast every weekday this week.
- Week 7 – Do an intermittent fast every weekday this week.
- Week 8 – Try and do a 72 hour fast (Tuesday to Thursday)
Have your last meal on Monday night at 6 pm, then try and fast for 72 hours, and have your next meal at 7 pm on Thursday night.
Once you start making fasting part of your routine, it comes fairly easy and you actually start looking forward to it.
I know, I know, that just sounds wrong. But it does get easier, especially once you start seeing the benefits.