Why Fasting Is Good for You: Types and Benefits of Fasting
Is counting calories and adhering to a specific diet difficult for you? If so consider fasting as it can save you from this trouble. It boosts your metabolism and reenergizes your system among other benefits.
What is Fasting?
There is a common misconception that fasting is about starving yourself. No. It is about not eating within selected intervals of time. You will come across many diet tips with some contradicting each other. It can become overwhelming and you may end up giving up on the tips. It is a different case with fasting. It is about not eating for a given period.
Instead of eating three meals a day or small meals spread out through the day, you will set aside a given timeframe for eating. It can be certain hours during each day or given weekdays. Within this time, you are allowed to eat healthy meals.
You cannot feast on processed sugars and junk foods and still expect fasting to work for you. You must still adhere to a healthy diet loaded with nutritious whole foods such as whole grains, raw dairy, vegetables, fruits, proteins, and good fat. You can still enjoy some cheese and dark chocolate if you like!
Fasting does not tie you down to one way of living or eating. This is where different types of fasting come in. Continue reading.
Types of Fasting
Remember, we said fasting is all about eating within set periods. It depends on how long you are to go without eating.
1. The Daniel Fast
Fasting has a religious connection. According to the Bible in the book of Daniel, he fasted. The Daniel Fast involves consuming only whole, plant-based foods for 21 days. Foods you can eat include vegetables (should be the basis of the diet), fruits (1-3 servings a day), whole grains (in moderation, ideally sprouted), beans and legumes (in moderation), and nuts and seeds (sprouted are best). During this time, you are not to consume any animal product including meat and dairy, processed foods, sugars/sweets, or oils. You should also only drink water, fresh pressed vegetable juice, almond milk, coconut milk, and coconut water (all unsweetened). This type of fasting does not allow you to drink coffee, juice, or alcohol.
2. Intermittent Fasting
This type of fasting ranges from 14-18 hours per day of not eating. For example, you may only eat from noon to 6 or 8pm at night. However, if you have the energy, you can go to a maximum of 32-36 hours without solid food.
3. Time-Restricted Fasting
Many people adhere to this type of fasting without knowing they are fasting. Usually, you refrain from food for 12-16 hours between dinner and breakfast. For example, most people take dinner at 7pm or 8pm then go to sleep until say 7am. Some people may forget to eat breakfast until around 10am. If you count the hours such a person goes without eating, they fall into the time range of time-restricted fasting.
However, when the time to eat comes, make sure you are eating healthy meals and as much as your body needs but without overeating. Eating more than you should causes unnecessary weight gain. This type of fasting is easy to adhere to and does not require you to make big changes in your eating routine.
4. Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate fasting is about having fasting and non-fasting days. They should alternate. Therefore, there are days you eat and others that you do not. It can be difficult following such a routine but it is possible if you are willing.
However, alternate fasting does not necessarily mean that you refrain from food altogether. You can reduce your calorie intake to quarter of your usual intake. If you consume 1600 calories on your non-fasting days then only eat 400 calories only on your fasting days. It is only reasonable that your body will need some food to carry out its normal functions during your fasting days.
Alternate day fasting should not last long as it can be hard to follow. Try it and see how far you can go in implementing it.
5. 5:2 fasting
This type of fasting is about eating your normal way for five days of the week and then limiting food intake during the remaining two days. During the two days, you only take in about 500-600 calories per day.
6. Warrior fasting
This entails you eating fruits and vegetables only during the day and the eating a large, healthy, balanced meal in the evening.
Helpful Tips for Fasting
Fasting does not have to be hard as some people make it sound. It is simpler when you have a guideline on how to do it.
First, identify the type of fasting you would like to engage in. Time-restricted fasting would be a good place to start considering it is more achievable than other fasting types. 12-16 hours of not eating will likely be easier than the other types, as you will be asleep the better half of the hours. The rest you can fill up during the day. If you have ever done time-restricted fasting, then you can advance to the other challenging types.
Second, come up with goals. What do you want to get out of fasting? Is it losing weight, having more energy, being healthier, or feeling better? Jot down your goals and place them somewhere you can easily see them as you fast. Doing so encourages you to achieve your fasting goals
Third, you need to plan your meals and buy the groceries that you will need. Planning has to do with what you will be eating each day and when you will be eating. A meal plan keeps you disciplined so you only eat what you should and when you should eat. With time, you will acclimate to it.
Fourth, your body is everything. It is the key to feeling well when fasting. Listen to what it is telling you. If you are a beginner in fasting, it will take a few days for your body to adjust to the new routine.
Therefore, even when the 12-16 hour fasting takes a toll on you and you feel that you need to have a snack, eat something small. If you are not hungry after your fasting hours are up, you do not have to eat just because it is non-fasting time. This shows that your body is adapting to the change in your lifestyle.
Monitor your fasting and write down your experiences. Identify any patterns and your general feeling each time you fast.
Frequent Questions Regarding Fasting
Fasting attracts common questions amongst newbies as well as those who have tried it before.
1. How long do I need to fast?
Fasting does not involve ridiculous rules. It is as simple as it gets. It is not about the hours you put in but about how comfortable you are with a given type of fasting. Intermittent fasting is manageable, even for beginners.
One of the tips to help you fast accordingly is eating when you feel hungry. Avoid starving your body. If you feel you need a snack then have one. It would be a bad idea to fast when preparing for a marathon. If you are changing your diet, do not put pressure on yourself to get it right overnight. Instead, make small changes gradually until you are used to your meals containing whole foods only. Then, you can consider fasting.
2. Which liquids should I drink when fasting?
The kinds of liquids you drink depend on the type of fasting you choose. During fasting hours, it is prudent to stick to drinks low in calories such as tea, coffee (without cream or sugar), and water. This is for time-restricted fasting.
Alternate day fasting and other types allow you to drink any liquid as long you watch the calories. For example, drink fresh pressed vegetable juice or bone broth during no-eating periods.
At all means, avoid drinking alcohol and sugary beverages. They will not do your fasting efforts any good.
3. Should I exercise as I fast?
Time-restricted fasting is excellent for exercise. When you wake up at 7am, you can exercise before eating anything. If you feel energized in the morning, this would be a great time to work out before heading to work.
However, for the other fasting types, exercising can be difficult considering they lower your energy levels due to your low-calorie intake. Therefore, running or lifting weights likely would not be doable but going for a walk or some light yoga would be possible.
What Benefits Do You Gain from Fasting?
We have so far covered a lot about fasting. The one question that remains uncovered is what are the benefits of fasting?
1. Fasting and weight loss
There are studies showing that fasting helps with losing weight. It does so by cutting weight and reducing excess body fat. Fasting also lowers inflammation, enabling your body to fight issues such as acne. It allows you shed belly fat while retaining your muscle mass.
2. Boosting production of human growth hormone (HGH)
The human body releases the growth hormone which curbs obesity, fosters muscle-building, and burns extra fat. HGH strengthens your muscles to better your workouts. If fasting boosts the production of the growth hormone, then your system will have more amounts to ensure it carries out its functions in a more effective manner.
3. Fasting and athletes
Fasting is good for athletes. For example, it helps them build muscles, lose fat, and strengthens them which improves their performance. However, it is important for athletes to eat quality protein 30 minutes after workouts which enhances muscle build-up and burns fat.
4. Enhancing insulin sensitivity
When you consume too many carbohydrates and sugars, you put yourself at risk for type-2 diabetes. Your body might become resistant to insulin, decreasing response to it. Fasting ensures that your body remains sensitive to insulin enabling your body to react as required when it releases insulin, which is to convert sugars (glucose) into glycogen for storage.
5. Controlling the hunger hormone
Restrictive diets increase the production of the hunger hormone. The hormone tells your mind that you are hungry. Increasing the amount of the hormone means you are likely to feel hungry more often than you should. Once you get used to fasting, it can assist you normalize the hormone. This way, you only want to eat when your body needs to, as the hunger hormone will be under control.
6. Lowering cholesterol levels
Bad cholesterol is never good for your body, it is linked to heart diseases. Fortunately, fasting allows your body to burn cholesterol, therefore reducing its levels in your system.
Fasting is not for everyone even with its helpful benefits. For starters, people with diabetes and hypoglycemia should never fast. It will adversely affect their glucose and insulin levels. They should wait until the two components are normalized.
If you are expectant or breastfeeding, avoid fasting. Pregnant and nursing mothers need calories to sufficiently meet nutritional needs of their unborn babies and infants respectively. Cutting on calories, which is what fasting does for some part of the day, would be detrimental. Your body needs the calories to ensure it provides enough food for you and your unborn child or nursing baby.
If you are suffering from a certain health condition or you are using other medications, speak with your doctor about fasting. Nevertheless, for many people, fasting is beneficial to their health and general wellbeing.
- Fasting requires you to not eat during certain periods.
- Intermittent fasting entails other types of fasting such as time-restricted and alternate day.
- To successfully fast, remember to choose a particular type of fasting, set goals, and purchase the foods you will need.
- Fasting comes with various bodily benefits such as reducing body weight, lowering bad cholesterol levels, ensuring sensitivity to insulin, and encouraging secretion of the human growth hormone.
- Fasting is not for pregnant women or nursing mothers. Those with diabetes and hypoglycemia should not fast. If you are using any drugs, consult your doctor about whether you should fast.
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