Fasting has become increasingly popular in the health and fitness world lately. There are several ways of fasting – intermittent, time-restricted, 16/8 method, complete fasts for 24-48 hours, etc.
In this blog, I am going to give you the general benefits of fasting.
Fat Loss – The most desired benefit of fasting, is the fat loss. Whether you choose to do intermittent fasting, or pick 1-2 days every week for a complete fast, numerous studies consistently show fat loss benefits.
Gives your digestive system a break – Our bodies use a lot of energy digesting food. With the consumption of processed foods, high stress, gut inflammation, poor bowel movements, the body takes energy away from other metabolic processes and puts it towards digestion. It is one of the reasons why lack of energy is a common challenge people face. Taking time to fast, whether it is for 16 hours or even up to 48 hours, gives your digestive system a break. It allows old undigested food to get processed as well. Regularly fasting, can as a result, improve overall digestive health.
Improves insulin sensitivity – Fasting also helps improve insulin sensitivity by lowering blood glucose levels. This improves overall metabolic health since insulin resistance can trigger inflammation, sleep issues and disrupt cortisol. Regulating insulin also helps slow down the aging process.
Helps rebuild the gut lining – Fasting is an effective tool to help repair leaky gut. Reducing traffic in the digestive system prevents food particles from leaking. Fasting also encourages cellular autophagy, a natural process where cells recycle dead, diseased or won-out cells to use for energy or create new cells. The combination of giving the body time to heal and the process of autophagy, helps repair leaky gut. This can also enhance the immune system, which is primarily in the gut.
Lowers triglycerides – Fasting has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol without impacting good cholesterol. This reduces triglycerides, thus reducing risk of heart disease.
Strengthens you mentally and spiritually – Long fasting periods, 24-48 hours (some even go longer but I don’t recommend it if your goal is to maintain lean muscle while dropping fat), can be mentally challenging. It can be a great practice in achieving resilience and self-discipline.
Eating food is one of the most common ways in which we armor ourselves from emotional/mental stress. Fasting allows us to become mindful of these triggers. This helps us catch ourselves and change our choices next time the triggers arise.
Whichever method of fasting you choose, there are somethings you want to keep in mind:
- Eat enough calories and nutrients.
- Don’t fast if you are pregnant, hypoglycemic.
- Fasting may not be a good idea for someone with history of eating disorders.
- Athletes and extremely lean individuals should stick to time-restricted fasting (fasting for 12-16 hours) rather than doing long fasts (24 – 38 hours) as it can disrupt reproductive hormones.
- Start gradually and listen to your body. If you are new to fasting, start with fasting for 12-16 hours. For example, eat your last meal by 6pm and go to bed by 9/10pm. Have breakfast at around 9am.
- I like to do long fasts on the weekends and find it easier to do them using exogenous ketones. They help me reduce cravings and maintain mental energy.
Clearly there are some compelling benefits of fasting. Pick the method that works best for your lifestyle and goals!