What is Fasting?

Simply stated, fasting is any period of time devoid of food intake. That is an all too uncommon occurrence in the U.S. where Big Gulps, Big Macs, and big plates of food exist everywhere but it can be one of the most rewarding habits you develop in this new year. Fasting actually FEELS GOOD!  That's right you heard me . . . now try it and tell me if I’m wrong!

 

How can fasting help me?

Fasting is very healthy and beneficial for the human body. Animal studies show that in all species tested, fasting extended life and health span.  When we deny our body fuel for a period of time it is forced to become MORE EFFICIENT. The cells have to stop being lazy and clean up their act. Here are just a few of the common systems affected by fasting:

  • Cardiovascular    There are multiple studies that show that individuals who participate intermittent fasting exhibit a decrease in their systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Individuals have also seen a decrease in total body weight since the body will begin to breakdown fat as a viable energy source instead of glucose. This decrease in body fat can decrease the risks of someone developing heart disease. Intermittent fasting improves your cholesterol level resulting in reduced LDL and triglycerides as your body become more efficient at burning fat.
     
  • Diabetes    Intermittent fasting is a great tool for reversing type 2 diabetes.That's right – REVERSING it. If you are a diabetic on medication or even insulin, I can show you how to use fasting in a reliable strategy to reverse your disease and come off medication. Fasting or reduced caloric intake normalizes fasting blood glucose, reduces glycated hemoglobin (HBa1c), and increases insulin sensitivity. Since insulin sensitivity is increased, glucose is taken up by muscles and fat cells more quickly. Intermittent fasting has also shown that it can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and hypertension.  If you are a diabetic take care to work with a qualified health care professional as you begin to engage fasting strategies. Don’t be reckless.
     
  • Mentally    Fasting and calorie restriction has shown benefits in reducing anxiety, increasing mood, and increasing overall energy. Sleep also tends to improve.
     
  • Autophagy     This is a self-cleansing process that is important for balancing sources of energy during times of nutrient stress (lack). This process is used to recycle the broken parts of a cell into energy thus cleaning out old damaged proteins that clutter up the internal cell. This process is thought of as a survival mechanism but serves modern man as a way of revitalization and restoration. This process removes damaged organelles and restores a more balanced immune function, stabilizes the DNA for protection, and drives the cell to act “younger”. This process plays a key role in preventing all forms of chronic degenerative disease such as cancer, Alzheimers, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, autoimmune diseases and infections.
  • Meaningful autophagy doesn't really begin until fasting has reached 24 hours and becomes most powerful beyond 36 hours.

 

How long should I fast?

There are multiple different formats of fasting which allows the person to individualize their regimen to find what works for them. If a person was to undergo a fast, they would expect that their liver’s glycogen supply wound be depleted by 16-24 hours. This time varies by the person’s diet and activity level. Someone could speed up the depletion by participating in moderate to vigorous exercise. After this depletion, the body will start the transition to move into ketosis which is when the body begins to breakdown fat and turn it into an energy source.

 

But what are the different types of fasting?

Twice-a-Week method (5:2)

  • This approach to intermittent fasting is based on capping your calories at 500 for 2 days a week. During the other five days of the week, you maintain a healthy and normal diet.
  • The two fasting days must not be consecutive
  • The meals on fasting days should be high in fiber and protein to help fullness and should be relatively the same size in portions divided into 2 small meals.

Alternate Day Fasting

  • This form is slightly more intense than the 5:2 as it involves modified fasting parameters every other day.
  • Reducing calories to 500 or even 0 for 24 hours, done 3 to 4 days per week.
  • On non-fasting days, resume the normal and healthy diet.

Time-Restricted Fasting (14:10, 16:8, 20:4)

  • This method entails that the person fasts for a certain amount of time, then they are able to eat in a certain time frame (Ex. Fast for 14 hours, eat in a 10 hour window).
  • A person can do this once or twice a week, or everyday if they’d like to.

24 Hour Fast

  • Like the name suggests, this is when a person fasts for 24 hours.
  • Only allowable intake is water, black coffee or plain tea.
  • Mineral intake as a supplement is recommended to avoid dizziness or weakness.
  • The first time this is done can feel challenging and be accompanied by mood change or fatigue. As your body accommodates and improves its fuel utilization over time these adverse feelings will abate only to be replaced with stable mood and greater energy.

See the 2 videos I created discussing WHY To Fast and also the key instructions in my video HOW To Fast.  Ready to take the plunge? Engage Chelsea in my office for guidance and support to ensure that this becomes your favorite new habit of 2021.