Everything You Need to Know About Fasting
By: Juneile R. Maxi
Fasting is a great way to reset and cleanse the body. Now, I am not a licensed physician by any means, however through many hours of research and having completed a couple extended fasts of my own, it is not surprising why people gravitate towards the studied benefits. There are two main types of fasting; water fasting and intermittent fasting. When preparing for a water fast or intermittent fast remember to ease your body into it, by slowly cutting out processed foods, limiting your calorie intake, and drinking lots of water a couple days before you begin.
Essentially water fasting is exactly what the name states, you forgo everything but water. However, a word of precaution, it is important that your are drinking a little more than your recommended daily water intake, since the water you once were also getting from food has now been removed as a source.
Water fasting has many benefits beyond simply losing weight. It can promote blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance, fights inflammation, can enhance your overall heart health by improving your blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels, boost brain function, increase HGH levels which is essential to boosting metabolism and promoting muscle strength, and it can also delay aging. Water fasting can also help with overall mental clarity and focus.
A water fast can range anywhere from a day to 40+ days depending on your choice. Fasting between 1-3 days is great if you need a break from food and want to press the reset button in order to cleanse the body. Within the first three days of a water fast, you may notice a change in your weight. It should be noted that this is simply water weight as your body is still metabolizing carbs and other nutrients from your last meal. After about three days of fasting, the body then goes into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when the body begins to use fat for energy rather than carbs and glucose.
Your body will actually go through a couple phases when you begin water fasting. In the first couple days you may notice fluctuations in your energy levels as you body begins to adapt and transition into a state of ketosis. The best part of fasting in my opinion is the autophagy phase, which typically begins between the first and third day of fasting. Autophagy is when the body is able to do a “spring cleaning” of old cells in order to produce new ones, breaking down damaged cells, viruses, and bacteria. During this phase, you may notice clearer skin, a stronger immune system, and less brain fog.
A good recommendation for anyone wanting to start a water fast would be to start with shorter fasts. If you feel good, you can extend to however long you want. However, it’s always best to check in with your medical specialist before starting a prolonged fast, especially if you have preexisting medical conditions, are taking medication, or have/had any form of eating disorders.
A great alternative to water fasting is intermittent fasting. Your body will go through very similar phases as it would on a water fast. Intermittent fasting is fasting for a certain number of hours before eating. There are a few different ways to intermittent fast:
⏱16:8 (the most common): fasting for 16 hours and an eating window of 8 hours.
⏱18:6: slightly more restrictive where you fast for 18 hours and open a six hour eating window. At this point, your body will begin to use ketones for energy and the autophagy stage kicks in to rid the body of old and damaged cells.
⏱20:4: challenging, yet doable especially since sleeping hours count as fasting as well! So 20 hours of fasting with a 4 hour eating window, which sort of boils down to the one meal a day fast if you thing about it.
⏱36 hour fast aka the “Monk Fast”: 36 hours of fasting and healthy eating for the other days not fasting. This fast helps reset your metabolism and promote incredible amount of cell regeneration.
⏱Alternate Day Fasting (ADF): 24 hours of fasting alternatively for however long you like!
Fasting, whether it is water fasting or intermittent fasting, is an amazing way to kickstart your healthy lifestyle change. When you begin to reintroduce food to your body after a fast, always start with very simple and light foods. If you are coming off a longer fasting period try beginning with a bone broth (or vegetable broth if you are vegetarian/vegan), freshly made juices or smoothies to reintroduce nutrients into the body. Then you can move on to solids such as fruits and vegetables before then introducing more complete cards into your diet such as whole grains, brown rice, oats, etc. It is so important to try and limit processed foods after your fast to avoid the yo-yo effect. Remember fasting is not a fad diet, it is a lifestyle change.
During your fast you may have some metal blocks, but once you push through those first couple days your body will most definitely reward you. Always make sure you are drinking more than your required amount of water, eat as healthy as you can during your eating windows and after completing a fast, and most importantly listen to your body! Your body will love, and thank you! ☺️
If you want to learn more on the benefits of fasting you can use these relevant and recent links for more detailed information on what your body goes through!