Fasting is something that people do as a religious observance as well as to lose weight. Either way, it can be difficult to fast effectively in the modern age. After all, there are so many opportunities to eat with freshly prepared food being available 24/7 in many places. Of course, the stress of modern life also means that people are drawn into comfort eating, either over-consuming at mealtimes or snacking between them. If you want to fast successfully, then the ability to distract yourself from hunger pangs will be beneficial. Go for a walk, read a book or try your luck with some fun online pokies at your favourite internet-based casino. Online slot games are a good way to take your mind off eating and you may even enjoy a win or two! That said, abstaining from food can be tough. What do you need to know to make a go of it?
Why Do People Fast?
As mentioned, some people fast because it is a part of their religious beliefs. In many strands of Hinduism as well as Islam, fasting for a given period of time is expected. For example, fasting during the daylight hours of Ramadan is central to Muslim belief. Usually, religious leaders make special dispensation for pregnant women, children and the sick so they do not always need to take part. However, many religious people choose to. Christians rarely fast with complete abstinence from food but they often give certain foodstuffs up for the period of Lent before Easter.
In addition to religious fasting, more and more people are doing it because of health. Like most diets, intermittent fasting variants have sometimes been seen as something of a fad. Even so, many people swear by fasting for a period once in a while as a means of promoting weight loss. As a diet, fasting has certainly been around for a lot longer than celebrity-led fashion habits and this looks set to remain the case. According to some research, a calorie-controlled diet is likely to be just as effective as a fasting one. However, it depends on the individual concerned. Read on to find out if a fasting diet might be right for you.
What Benefits Do People Get From Fasting?
Long-term fasting means your body won’t get enough nutrients or energy. However, intermittent fasting can bring about some desirable effects. Firstly, the body’s reliance on insulin to regulate blood sugars will be usually improved by occasional fasts. Some studies have shown that people who fast are also better at dealing with bodily inflammations naturally. Furthermore, it can help some people with high blood pressure as well as reducing cholesterol levels. This is something that does not happen to everyone, however. Some long-term studies are also indicating that people who fast once in a while will have improved brain function as they age. Although the scientific evidence is still being gathered, it seems that fasting may lead to a lower risk of brain degeneration in old age.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, fasting can help with weight loss. It does this in two ways. To begin with, fasting reduces calorie intake so long – as you don’t increase your intake at other times, of course. Secondly, it has been shown to speed up metabolism by giving certain neurotransmitters in the body a boost. Let’s look at the role of fasting in weight loss a little more closely to understand what is going on.
Is Weight Loss Achievable Through Fasting?
Firstly, it should be said that not everyone sees dramatic weight loss as a result of fasting. It can and does work, but it depends on a whole range of other factors, such as the amount you sleep, exercise and consume when not fasting. In addition, your body may have a lower metabolic rate than the average and fasting may not always boost it. That said, fasting often works simply because it means eating fewer calories overall. One day spent fasting can reduce body weight by around nine per cent in some cases. The people who enjoy the best results in terms of weight loss are able to fast for about one day a week whilst still exercising, but they don’t overcompensate when they’re not fasting.
Are There Negative Outcomes From Fasting?
Care should always be taken when fasting. Dizziness is common when trying to do anything physical when you don’t have sufficient food in your system to sustain the activity. Some people face a laxative effect as a result of only drinking over the course of a day which can be unpleasant, too. Another issue that some people experience is that their metabolism slows down once they start eating again which means that some of their lost weight inevitably piles back on. In addition, some vital nutrients may be missing from your normal intake when a fast is underway. This can place certain organs under greater strain. Of course, the longer you fast for, the worse the side effects can potentially be.
How Can You Make Fasting Healthier?
If you want to fast in a healthy way, then pay attention to what your body is telling you. Don’t assume that you are capable of a 24-hour fast on day one because it might not suit you. Most people should seek professional medical advice before going on a fasting diet. If you choose to proceed, then ensure you are taking a vitamin supplement so that your body is not going without anything vital it might need to maintain good health. Equally, you should avoid abstaining from liquids as well as food since there are some serious health ramifications of your body dehydrating during a fast. If fasting is not for you, then simply reducing your total calorie intake by lowering your portion size at mealtimes will have much the same effect. Finally, ensure you enjoy a balanced diet at times outside of your chosen fasting period.
Which People Should Avoid Fasting?
There are plenty of groups who are advised not to fast. Pregnant women can harm their baby if they fast so they should not do it. The same goes for women who are breast-feeding an infant. Equally, children who are growing need to eat regularly. Their metabolism is different to adults so fasts are not so effective and can harm health and growth. People with certain medical conditions are also advised never to fast. Diabetes sufferers fall into this category, for instance. Some medical treatments can have unwanted side effects if they are taken when fasting. Lower blood glucose when taking a course of medication could be really problematic. In addition to these groups of people, anyone who has suffered from an eating disorder in the past should never go on a fasting diet. The health consequences of fasting – even when such a disorder has been overcome – can be disastrous.
What Is a Good Meal Before a Fast?
You need two main things before commencing a fast – carbohydrates and water. To get both in a single meal, eating freshly cooked vegetables is just about the best thing you can do. Fresh fruit is also a good idea for the same reason. Berries, peppers, carrots, apples, melons and celery are all ideal foodstuffs to eat before fasting. Remember to wash them down with even more water so your body is fully hydrated, too.
What Should You Eat to Break a Fast?
When you fast intermittently, choosing what to eat to bring your fast to an end is important. Your stomach needs to be treated gently so don’t eat something that takes a lot of energy to digest, such as steak. Instead, opt for something that you can consume slowly to get your body back to normal. Fruit juice or vegetables which have been boiled to make them easier to eat are good choices. Broths are another ideal thing to opt for. Any leafy salad, such as a spinach-based one, will also hit the mark. Once you have had an easy-to-digest meal and rested for a while, try some healthy foods which are a little more substantial, such as fish, poultry, eggs or raw vegetables.
Tips on Fasting – Dos and Dont’s
- Do eat healthily between fasts.
- Don’t fast for too long. There are no rules when it comes to intermittent fasting.
- Do be prepared to break your fast early if needed.
- Don’t fast if you are ill or stressed out.
- Do drink lots and lots of water.
- Don’t binge eat after breaking your fast.
- Do consult your doctor before opting for an intermittent fasting diet.
- Don’t fast if you are already underweight.