Get The Facts On Fasting
When people hear the word “Fasting”, images of calorie-deprived supermodels or emaciated spiritual leaders come to mind.
But while fasting does involve a drastic reduction in calories, there is genius in this seeming act of madness.
First of all, we need to clarify what fasting is.
Fasting means to abstain from eating solid food. However, fasting allows hydration through water and calorie free drinks such as tea.
The most popular method for fasting is Intermittent Fasting or IF.
According to advocates of IF, fasting has been ingrained in our DNA for the past 250,000 years.
Before technology introduced food processing, humans were left to hunt and gather food.
They would maintain muscle mass and fat tissue in times of abundance but lose most of it during lean periods.
These were periods of calorie-deprivation or fasting; humans were left to drink water and eat small portions of food from nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Studies have shown that the body enters a stage called autophagy during fasting where the body eliminates waste products left by dead or damaged cells.
Failure to remove these toxic substances would lead to diseases, forms of illnesses and ageing-related conditions.
IF as a diet protocol has also been studied by doctors, scientists and nutritionists.
Here are some of the reported benefits of IF:
- Regulates blood glucose and reduces the risk of type II diabetes
- Normalises leptin levels which is the body’s hormone for regulating body fat
- Improves energy production by creating more cell mitochondria
- Decreases the effects of ageing by enhancing natural production of Human Growth Hormone or HGH
- Lowers levels of bad cholesterol
- Reduces cellular damage from oxidation
- Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease
- Decreases risk of certain types of cancer
- Improves cognitive function
- Protects from certain effects of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
There have also been reported side effects but these conditions are largely due to prolonged fasting. These include:
- Slows down metabolism
- Decreases muscle mass
- Dizziness and nausea
IF has considered these disadvantages. This is why it provides different eating schedules for you to consider. Here are 3 of them:
1. 5:2 IF Plan
- Eat normally for 5 days then fast for 2 days
- Men should only consume 600 calories on fasting days
- Women should only consume 500 calories on fasting days
- Stay hydrated with water or tea
2. Alternate Day Fasting
- Alternate normal eating and fasting days
- Factoring sleep, fasting period should last 32-36 hours
3. Lean Gains Model
- Fast daily
- Fasting period will last 16 hours
- This will be followed by an 8-hour period of “feeding”
Your choice of IF method would depend on your health and fitness goals.
If you want to lose weight, the 5:2 and Alternate Day IF would be good choices.
If you are physically active and want to maintain lean muscle mass, the Lean Gains Model should be your preferred approach.
A misunderstood aspect of IF is what to eat after the fasting period.
If you are committed to a healthy lifestyle, always choose food from organic or natural sources.
Avoid foods that are processed with refined sugars, salt, high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients.
These heavily processed foods will defeat the purpose of Intermittent Fasting.