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If you haven’t been paying attention, the “F” word has made quite an impact as of late. You will hear it in the most shocking of places too, such as schools, news radio shows, public TV, dating sites and even churches! Yes, priests and other high-ranking religious figures say it all the time!
OK, it’s time to let you off the hook. It’s fasting, not a swear word. But you probably already knew that.
History at a Glance
Suffice it to say, fasting has been around longer than your great grandparent’s grandparents. In fact, you can trace it all the way back to the beginning of Christianity, when it was used to get into a deeper state of consciousness and prayer.
Nowadays, it’s used as a tool for the obtainment of better health.
If you are new to this eating strategy and want to know more, pull up a chair and pay attention. You’re about to learn some facts that can shed light on the situation.
And the whole point today is to give you solid information on how to get the most out of fasting. Just like anything else, you’ll get out of it what you put into it.
First things first, let’s address the various ways you can do fasts.
Intermittent Fasting (IT)
This is done by skipping a day of eating once a week or more. People following this plan usually sacrifice their intake of food for 24 hours and do it the same day or same couple days each week.
Often referred to as TRF, this fast protocol differs slightly from IT, although they are usually referred to as one in the same. Time-restricted feeding is probably the most popular protocol because it tends to be the easiest to maintain for the long-haul.
As the name implies, it is done by cutting back, or “restricting,” the hours in which you eat. The goal is to make your eating window shorter than your fasting window. Ideally, this window should be in the range of 8 to 9 hours to fully tap into the benefits.
An extended fast would be one that lasts in the neighborhood of two to three days. Or if you want to get technical, 48 to 60 hours. For some who have adapted to TRF and IF, they like to stretch their boundaries a bit more and opt for a longer cessation from food.
This would be considered the most arduous of fasts. At least, in the early stages it would. A prolonged fast is done for many days in a row. And by many, it can be anywhere from 10 to 40-plus days. Generally speaking, these fasts are done by people who are very overweight or have chronic conditions.
Be aware that fasts of this magnitude that involve abstinence of food altogether, should always be medically supervised. And often times, people doing these stay at an actual clinic where they are closely monitored.
The last type of fasting we will cover today is called fast mimicking, or “fasting mimicking”. The idea with this protocol is you do eat every day, but it’s a low amount of calories. Over a period of time, your body recognizes this caloric deprivation as a fast, so you end up getting the benefits associated with fasting.
The long-awaited moment has finally arrived. You are probably wondering why would someone want to put themselves through the rigors of not eating for even a mere 12 hours a day? Well, here are some big reasons why:
- Higher energy
- Higher growth hormone and testosterone levels
- Hunger stabilization
- Better brain function and clarity
- Inflammation reduction
- Improved sleep patterns
- Stable blood sugar and insulin levels
- Fat loss
- Higher immunity
- Better workout performance
As you can see, this list is quite extensive and substantial. If you are willing to go through a little bit of sacrifice in the beginning as your body gets used to it, fasting is definitely worth the effort.
Here’s a little reality check that you need to take into serious consideration. When you are doing any form of fasting, people often think they can eat whatever they want in their windows. Although it has been proven in animal tests that you can still get benefits from fasting if you eat unhealthily, that still doesn’t mean you should do it.
Honestly, if you really want to achieve optimal health through fasting, there are some general rules you should follow.
First of all, do NOT eat junk food. In fact, eat as clean as you can. Include foods that are high in nutrients and enzymes,
and especially get as many fermented foods in your diet as possible.
This will help put back the healthy bacteria in your gut that is so important for digestion and immunity. Kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh are all good fermented foods to integrate.
It always comes down to your hormones in the end. Different foods and beverages affect them differently. Eating a few slices of pizza and washing them down with a couple beers will cause a massive spike in blood sugar, which will cause an equally high rise in insulin.
Even if you are in an 8-hour eating window, you’ll still get this effect. You’d be much better off eating a large salad with a lot of raw vegetables, a hunk of broiled salmon and some kimchi on the side.
When it comes specifically to TRF, separate your meals by at least four hours. This is a mistake a lot of people make who are fasting. They end up grazing throughout their whole eating window.
By doing this, you keep turning on the hormones that boost and control hunger, and they never get a chance to regulate. By waiting four hours, your food will fully digest and your hormones stand more of a chance of coming back down to normal.
Regardless of what fasting protocol you follow, always stop eating by 7 pm. Late-night munching is THE worst thing you could ever do for your body. You are technically in a diabetic state after 7 pm and your pancreas goes to sleep, just like the rest of your body.
When you eat late, especially if it is simple carbs, you force your pancreas to release insulin, which is the last thing it wants to do. Continuing this pattern for years highly increases your risk for diabetes.
Lastly, if you REALLY want to maximize your health and get the most out of fasting, give up alcohol! That may come as a shock to you, but it’s true. Forget about the health benefits of one to two glasses of red wine a day.
There are so many other foods and beverages out there that are alcohol-free and do not contain sulfites or preservatives that alcohol does. Look to real food and liquids to get your health up to optimal levels.
Remember, always come back to the honor rules. Honor your neighbor, honor your fitness, honor your body, honor your diet and honor your fast. Follow these rules and the tips given to you above, and you will have nothing to lose, expect unwanted fat and the risk or an unwanted disease.